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The Greek Coup

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

AT FIRST GLANCE, General Phaidon Gizikis's replacing Colonel George Papadopoulos as military dictator of Greece doesn't seem to have much significance. Gizikis denounced Papadopoulos for betraying the principles of the Greek coup of 1967, which brought fascism to Greece. But while Papadopoulos made some attempts in recent months to lend his regime legitimacy through tightly controlled elections and the establishment of an ostensibly civilian government, the attempts never developed into anything more than windowdressing for the repression and torture that kept him in power.

But the circumstances that led to Gizikis's coup give it extraordinary significance. What finally convinced right-wing officers dismayed by even Papadopoulos's sham democracy that Greece needed a change of government was the old government's inability to prevent or even effectively suppress last week's uprising, in which thousands of students and workers fought Greek police and American tanks, demanding a restoration of democracy and freedom. The demonstrators' heroism brought down one dictatorship; because of this week's instability, and the uncertainty about the new government's policy, there's at least some possibility that Greece will become more free. Gizikis may stick to both his new office and his fascist principles, but if he does he will be making a mistake. Last week's demonstrations remain an astonishing example of what an oppressed people can do.

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