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Banks reopen in Cyprus: 'They have stolen our money!'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Banks in the island nation of Cyprus have reopened after almost two weeks of being closed. Cypriots have begun to line up to withdraw and conduct business as usual, but as is expected, they are very angry and bitter about the drastic measures their nation had to make in order to avoid bankruptcy.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As the lines have grown outside branches, there is no sense of panic. Many Cypriots here wear a face of grim resignation. Banks have limited the number of customers allowed in at any time.

The country's controversial bailout plan requires Cyprus to raise 5.8 billion euros.

"They have stolen our money," one disgruntled bank customer told reporters. "I have been working for 60 years. I am 80 years old. I cannot work again for my living - they have cut the lot.

"Our money, our social insurance - they have cut them. How are we going to live?"

Another bank customer left empty handed. "I tried to get my February wages and they gave me a piece of paper only," he said. "I have two children in the army and they asked for money - I don't have money to give them.

"The Government didn't pay anybody. My old parents didn't get their pension."

Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades, who has cut his own salary by 25 percent, tweeted his thanks to Cypriots for showing "maturity" as the banks reopened. "I would like to thank the Cypriot people for their maturity and collectedness shown in their interactions with the Cypriot Banks," Nicos Anastasiades said on his official Twitter account.

Cash withdrawals and other transactions are subject to tough restrictions, introduced by the country's Finance Ministry in an effort to avoid a run on the banks.

The country's crippled banking system was effectively closed down on March 16 while the terms of the 10 billion euro bailout were agreed and implemented.

Large depositors here, many of whom are outside of the country, now face losses of as much as 40 percent of their savings as part of the deal, leading to fears that customers would attempt to withdraw large amounts of money when the banks reopened.

Police and security staff were deployed to maintain order at branches. Private security guards were called in to work alongside police officers and other security firms across the country.

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