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Portuguese take to the streets against austerity

Portuguese take to the streets against austerity. 49535.jpeg

Up to one and a half million people took to the streets this Saturday afternoon in Portugal, in a massive demonstration of popular revolt against the intolerable conditions imposed on them by the social terrorist policies of the coalition government and its Troika masters.

So ably has the Government of Portugal been conducted in the four decades since the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974, that the Government of Portugal is now performed by proxy, by foreigners who have no notion whatsoever as to the reality for the average Portuguese, a characteristic shared by the vast majority of the governing class within the political parties in power since 1974. To name and shame, the PSD (Social Democrats), a temple of bad governance; the PS ("Socialist Party" in name only) and the CDS-PP (Conservatives/Christian Democrats).

The Troika (European Commission, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank) have the Portuguese people, and I apologise for what I am going to say, by the balls. In other words, and to make things clearer, they have the testicles of the Portuguese people held in a vice. And from time to time, they squeeze. And yes, it hurts.

Portugal is one of those European countries with singular and special characteristics, a country which is impossible to understand unless you live there for decades and which is totally impossible to comprehend unless you mix with its people and here, we are not speaking about a few lofty academics who spend their entire lives trying not to be Portuguese or who like to make snide remarks against the Portuguese behind their backs during well-irrigated dinners, the type of "person" who calls them "cry-babies" (Pedro Coelho, Prime Minister).

Not one of the members of the troika understands the reality of Portugal and the sheer frustration lived by the Portuguese, who spend their entire lives burdened, at times with thieves, operating in local and national government, who when assuming power through elections with ever-lower turnout rates, inform the people they will be expecting sacrifices.

The result of this abominable governance is what we see today - Portugal governed by foreigners who impose policies through Excel sheet management, concentrating on the bottom line without having a clue about the misery their ideas mean for the people they are visited upon in a top-down study in arrogance. And the fitting backdrop is a Portuguese government sitting in the side-wings, nodding obediently and catching scraps and morsels thrown to them by their masters, like the mongrel hounds they are. My apologies to mongrel hounds - any stray dog lying in the gutter has far more value.

The result of this abominable governance is a massive rise in taxation, a huge slice taken out of pensions and subsidies, 40%, I repeat, forty per cent of young people unemployed, a cynical and purposeful miscalculation of the real unemployment rate, a huge increase in rents, the backdrop being that banks are not lending under normal conditions for people to contract a mortgage.

Without jobs, unable to start a life and buy a house and car, the young people are leaving Portugal like sailors off a sinking ship. After all, why should they stay? Indebtedness is now 122.5 per cent of GDP, the government/troika's policies have taken so much money out of the economy that it is predictably in free-fall (as predicted in this column two years ago), fiscal revenues are less, social security contributions are less, social obligations such as unemployment benefit are sky-rocketing.

The answer by the social terrorist government/troika? An additional 800 million Euro in public funding, part of the 4 billion disinvestment programme over the next three years, which promises to lead Portugal over the precipice.

People may argue about how many people turned out on the streets this Saturday afternoon, whether it was one point five million (15 per cent of the population, equivalent to 45 million people in the USA) but what nobody will argue about is the genuine frustration and fury they wish to express.

Will it make a difference? No, because the government couldn't care less, neither does it understand because its members have never been anywhere near to the Portuguese reality in their miserable lives. All they can do is play games, move figures around on Excel sheets and pretend they have any idea as to what they are doing. Born with silver spoons in their mouths, the majority of them have lived cushioned lives, have gravitated around protected and cloistered environments, cocooned from the "plebs" they make cynical promises to, then break, to get elected.

Portugal is a country with a first-rate people run by third-rate politicians. Portugal is a study in social terrorism. This socially terrorist governance destroyed Portugal's agriculture, destroyed Portugal's industries, destroyed Portugal's fisheries, destroyed the jobs and future of the Portuguese youth, destroyed the education system, destroyed the healthcare system.

That is why the Portuguese are on the streets, and an increasing number of them in the streets. Portugal's government today is an insult to the aspirations of those who fuelled the Carnation Revolution in 1974. Portugal's youth deserves better. But here is the rub: it won't happen.


Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey




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