"This has destroyed us"

The Greeks whose livelihoods lie downtown don’t know who to blame: the government, which says there is no option but to cut spending and raise taxes to secure international loans, or the protesters, who can’t stand their leaders.

Stores and coffee shops hastily roll down steel shutters — installed over the last few years after repeated riots saw storefronts smashed again and again — for every large demonstration.

“You lose euro1,000 ($1,300) a day on a strike or demonstration day. We soldier on without hope,” said Constantinos, opening the doors of his coffee shop just off Syntagma Square after the main demonstration. He asked that his surname not be used out of concern that his cafe could be targeted.

And it’s not just motorists who are avoiding the center. In the popular shopping district behind Syntagma, more and more shops now stand vacant, “to let” signs plastered across their windows.