The only thing necessary for the persistence of evil is for enough good people to do nothing

Immigrant Shepherds

Via Athens Plus
[Athens Plus is only available for download. Link at the end of the article]

Immigrants fill gap as Greeks opt out of grazing lifestyle
As family shepherd units dwindle, bureaucracy hinders short-staffed livestock breeders

BY STAVROS TZIMAS

About 130,000 families still graze their herds on Greece’s rugged mountains but in very few of them is the younger generation willing to take over the family business. The hard lot of a sheep or goat breeder exposed to the elements on rocky mountain- sides holds few attractions for Greek youths who quake at the thought of spending their best years isolated from any social life and the possibilities of starting a family. It is rare for a young girl these days to be willing to settle down to life in an isolated village in the Pindos or Agrafa mountains.

Kostel is a Romanian from the Carpathian Mountains. He hasn’t learned much Greek but not much is required to herd goats. In one hand is his staff, in the other his mobile phone. For the past two years, he has been guarding herds on Mt Grammos and is happy to be there. He is just one of the thousands of immigrants – Albanians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Pakistanis and even Iranians guarding herds of goats, cattle or sheep in Greece, who have come to fill the gap left by Greek youths beating a fast retreat to the cities.

“There are few flocks left that don’t have one or two foreigners guarding them,” said Dimitris Kambouris, head of the Panhellenic Union of Livestock Breeders. “The old traditional style of business, where the entire family chipped in to help with the animals, is over. Young people don’t want to know; they prefer to become waiters rather than work with animals, even though they could earn more.” The life is not only hard but nomadic, moving the herds and flocks from winter to summer pastures twice a year. Immigrant workers – legal or otherwise – are recruited from neighboring countries or even from Bangladesh or Pakistan, the latter more often employed in stables.

“We mainly bring them over on a six-month or one-year work permit, usually from neighboring countries, but the bureaucratic procedures are always delayed, so many of them sneak over the border and work illegally,” said Kambouris.

Livestock breeders who staged a protest by blocking the north-south National Road at the Vale of Tempe earlier this month were demanding, among other things, legal status for all foreign shepherds. “We are asking the authorities to show some understanding, some tolerance, instead of staging raids on stables and rounding them all up for deportation. These people are working around the clock; it’s as if they were in some agricultural prison. Let them do their jobs,” said Kambouris.

“If they are deported, we are left without anyone to guard the animals from the wolves. Our own people don’t care. We can’t find any Greek shepherds, not even in an emergency.” A shepherd’s monthly wage ranges from 700-800 euros, in addition to food and board.Immigrants fill gap as Greeks opt out of grazing lifestyle
As family shepherd units dwindle, bureaucracy hinders short-staffed livestock breeders

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3 Comments

  1. Xenos
    September 21, 2009    

    The Greek anti-immigrant hysteria has always extended to stopping Greek society from legally employing the much-needed immigrant workers, in certain economic sectors. The same has happened in Spain and Portugal with strawberry farming (where crops were left unharvested, and farmers left to go bankrupt); and with care-workers for the elderly in Italy. In all these cases, the affected employers have to go out on the streets and violently confront the state — just to get proper work permits for their employees.

    Europe has an uncontrolled xenophobia, and it’s not getting better. Neo-Nazi parties are springing up everywhere, while governments shift to the right in their anti-immigration hysteria to try to stem the flow of racist voters.

  2. Xenos
    September 22, 2009    

    Well, obviously racists are opposed to immigration — legal or illegal. The problem is when racist political movements are given credibility by people like Cyd, and gullible people follow.

  3. Xenos
    September 22, 2009    

    Cyd, if you had a grasp of elementary logic you would understand the difference between “All racists are opposed to immigration” and your misrepresentation of that, namely “All opponents of immigration are racists”.

    Quod erat demonstrandum.

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