BERLIN -- Angry workers walked off the job in Greece on Wednesday over major spending cuts aimed at saving the country from bankruptcy.
The protests come on the heels of the recent decision of the European Union and International Monetary Fund to pledge $145 billion to bail out the debt-ridden nation.
However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel is pressing for the bailout, saying the future of Germany and Europe depends on it.
Strike Paralyzes Greece
Wednesday's strike has paralyzed much of the nation, with all of the flights, trains and ferry services into and out of Greece suspended.
The strike has also shut down schools, public offices and major tourists sites. Even television and radio news broadcasts have stopped.
"It's not our fault," shouted one protestor. "We didn't do this to our economy, the government did."
But economists say there's plenty of blame to go around for most of the nation.
Experts also say that although the new loans and austerity measures will stave off bankruptcy for now, they won't fix the Greek economy long term.
Political Leaders Stay Optimistic
Still, the optimism of politicians springs eternal.
"I think in three years the Greek economy will be growing," IMF negotiator Poul Thomsen said. "It will have had a couple of very difficult years behind it."
"I think people will again have growing incomes and I think that people definitely have a sense of that the worse is well behind us and that there's light at the end of the tunnel," he concluded.
"We will follow this road because this is the only road to be able to save the country," Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said.
The euro fell again Wednesday, because traders believe the bailout is not enough. The Greek government must cut spending, hike sales taxes, and stop income tax evasion, which is a national past time here.
And that's not going to make the angry protestors go away anytime soon.