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Society

Cretans Block Demolition Crews from Razing Unlawful Beach Businesses

February 22, 2024

Demolition teams with a police escort who went to a beach on Crete to take down unlawful businesses were stymied by hundreds of people who prevented them from carrying out the actions.

The New Democracy government, reacting to 2023 protests by citizens on some islands angry that beaches were being taken over by businesses charging people to use umbrellas and lounge chairs.

The Greek Constitution declares that all beaches are public and must have access but governments have ignored that, without legal challenges, and allow leasing of 50 percent of the space to business and luxury resorts.

But many beaches have been completely taken over by businesses – many without leases – who are raking in big profits by charging for use of their equipment and trying to bar people who don’t pay.

The demotions on Crete were scheduled for the each on Ierapetra and now been delayed because authorities didn’t evacuate the area before they arrived to find crowds blocking them.

The owners of 52 businesses operating there without leases want more time an said they would eventually take them down but Manolis Michelarakis, the President of the Ierapetra Cafe-Restaurant Association, said wooden structures have been there for years.

“We are not asking that they not be demolished. If the funds are found for the redevelopment, we will demolish them ourselves. Let them give us at least until October,” he said, which would give them the summer to profit again.

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