Portugal has finally succumbed to the internal and external pressure to ask for a bailout, basically meaning the country is incapable of looking after its own affairs. The question is, why did Portugal not outsource its political and economic management years ago to competent, honest and serious people who know what it is to work for the community?
I believe in this article I express the sheer frustration and mirror the anger and revulsion felt by the vast majority of the Portuguese population at the country having reached the end of line, scraping the bottom of the barrel despite our hard efforts, despite the fact that collectively we have done everything that was asked of us. I am speaking about the common citizen, not that filth that has squandered our money and compromised the futures of our children.
For precisely thirty years I have worked from dawn till dusk, starting at eight o'clock every morning, finishing my day job at eight o'clock in the evening, and moonlighting until midnight or one o'clock the following morning, including weekends, bank holidays and holidays so as to have money to buy a house and to give my three children a decent upbringing.
Now precisely when for the first time in my life, my youngest son having completed his degree, for the first time in three decades I have a pay packet to myself, what happens? Not only do I wake up to the news that the country is to accept a bail-out, with the ensuing austerity measures which will make the PEC packages look like fairy godmothers, but also the news that the interest rates are set to leap, meaning that my mortgage is going to increase exponentially. The second factor is not the fault of the Portuguese government; the first most certainly is, not the government of José Sócrates but the entire governing class, for decades.
Of my three Portuguese children, two are already living abroad and say they will not come back and the third is set to go. After thirty years and after personally having contributed, I estimate, at least one million Euro to the Portuguese economy, and doing several jobs, both in a professional and in a voluntary capacity, I have a thank-you letter to write.
To all those unspeakable and disgusting leeches and traitors who earned millions yet wriggled out of paying their taxes all these years, thank you. To all those involved in government from the highest level to the local council level, who squandered the futures and opportunities of my children in Portugal, their country, thank you. Thank you, because despite doing my best, performing a role in society (education) and in my newspaper (journalism) in which my personal skills and knowledge were required - so nobody else could have done the job - I have no option but to stay here, stuck with the bill you left me (even more sacrifices, after having paid all the taxes I was supposed to pay and opting not to discount a series of items I am sure I could have), deprived of the company of my children and forced probably to live on a miserable pension, if indeed I have one.
Now tell me if I was right or wrong to willingly become one of the first students of Portuguese in the country of my birth, a student of a language and culture to which I willingly and happily dedicated myself, to the extent I gained two scholarships to Lisbon University back in the 1970s and opted to come to Portugal and become part of the nation-building process for this wonderful country and people throughout all these years. I was asked to make sacrifices, and I did, selflessly.
That smile has been wiped from my face, has it not? In three decades I have taken beating after beating after beating after beating, yet worked hard, paid all my dues and did everything the system asked of me, to bring up my three Portuguese children and try to give them a future. If I did my part, then why couldn't you do yours? And why should I, and those like me, be forced to pick up the bill, once more? Unlike my children, at my age I do not have a choice or the luxury of choosing where I live. Why don't those (excuse me) bastards, I repeat, those bastards who received EU funds and used them for their own benefit - and went unpunished - why don't they pay for the crisis? I would venture inside this system, they will not pay a cent.
After thirty years of living in Portugal, I have seen a lot of things change - mostly for the better - and a lot of things remain the same. Over these three decades, the public services have improved exponentially - public attendance is far more professional, the systems are better organised and these days those giving advice tend to know what is involved in starting and completing a process. Infrastructures have improved, the streets are clean, the cities are modern, open, pretty. Public transportation, although people complain, is excellent, especially so the trains and Metro.
The cities and towns continue to be relatively safe, the hotels, café´s and restaurants provide a good service at relatively low prices, meaning the average Portuguese does not have to think twice about taking a coffee or eating a simple meal out on a regular basis. The weather helps, the gastronomy too and in general terms, Portuguese people are pleasant and polite. It is difficult to imagine a better place to spend a holiday. Alongside the beaches, there are golf facilities and (hidden) cultural and architectural treasures in each and every town and city. The word "marketing" does not exist in Portuguese.
What has not changed, as I have said many times in similar articles, is the abominable governance by a clique of incompetent, at best, and corrupt, at worst, traitors who I personally hold responsible for destroying the chances of my (Portuguese) children and the country's youth and have taken away their freedom to enjoy a future in their own country, meaning that if I want to see my grandchildren, I will have to buy a plane ticket to do so, despite having fulfilled all my obligations as a taxpayer, worker and citizen to the full.
Permit me to voice the opinion of the vast majority of Portuguese - with this clique still in power, together with their fleets of top-of-the-range BMWs, their teams of advisors with expense accounts and special perks, the contracts signed with "market research companies" owned by brothers and sisters and fathers-in-law and cousins and Christ alone knows who, who deliver study after study after study which sit in a drawer gathering dust, or go into the shredder, after thousands of our Euros have been wasted, this clique which has so skilfully managed the economy for the last 37 years that now they have to go cap-in-hand to Europe and the IMF admitting they are abject, snivelling failures, this clique which starts with the President (has anyone seen the car he has and how much it costs? Who was Prime Minister during the decade after Portugal's adhesion to the EC?) and running right through the political parties, into municipal government (how many advisors do councillors have?) down to the grass-roots level at local administration (juntas de freguesia)...with this troupe of misfits, scoundrels and spivs in many cases, who appear to live endemically above the law - does anyone really have any hope of change in the near future?
If this band of, generally speaking, useless pig-faced arrogant pot-bellied smug self-opinionated criminals has squandered the futures of our children - betraying their future and ours - does it make any sense to believe that they will change?
Or is it time people started networking and forming a civic platform to make sure those involved are held responsible for their actions? Isn't it time people started saying Change! and demanding Change! and believing in Change!?
Nobody is asking or calling for a Revolution. However, the Portuguese people have shown time and time again that they are able to rise to the challenge when they want, able to think big and overcome major obstacles, often despite their "leaders" and not because of them. And since the "leaders" are so obviously unable, too inept or too interested in feathering their own nests and those of their friends to think strategically, then why don't the Portuguese people (driven by the youth) make sure that someone does?
This is a process which can take shape in the coming months, inside Pravda.Ru or around it or outside it, forming a civic platform which may (or not) eventually develop into a political party of competent, hard-working patriots whose objective is to turn Portugal into a medium European economy in the top half of the table, where it belongs and should be, people who realise that Portugal is a medium-sized country, with an enormous Exclusive Economic Zone, and that the economy should reflect this and not the spirit of the poor little one (coitadinho) with an endemic culture of receiving hand-outs from the richer European countries, like some filthy beggar clutching at people's coat tails...and where has all this money gone?
This civic platform does not need to lean to the left or right, what it needs to do it get itself into a position where it can influence Portuguese public life by providing information, to start with and by monitoring those who are using our money. What is the real situation of the country? How much money comes from taxes? When you buy a cake and 25% goes to the State in VAT, what happens to that money? Exactly how much does the Ministry of Education need? How much do we pay to NATO? For what? Who decides? How much did that Institute spend on a party? Who made the decision? With whose money?
Who are the members of the teams in the Institutes? What do they do? Are they competent? What are their CVs? Why does this councillor have a team of 12 advisors? Why are some of them family members? How much of our money do they spend? On what?
Accountability, transparency and responsibility. Are the people in the jobs competent to be there, are they able to perform their roles? Why do Portuguese people hang around at work until 19.30 if their contract says they go home at 17.00? How come those who apply pressure on them to stay, making them feel uncomfortable if they do not, have not been demoted or punished? Why do Portuguese firms have such vague job descriptions, if indeed they have them at all? How then can people be held responsible for what they do or don't do?
Why doesn't the justice system work quickly and with the same set of weights and measures for all?
These are some of the questions that should be addressed, and explained and remedied. A new platform of patriots and experts can come together, pool knowledge and make Portugal a better place - and if we try hard we can do so in a short period of time.
Count Pravda.Ru in on this process as a willing media partner, and count the author in as a collaborator who will work for free to help form the network/platform to at least make this country a place his grandchildren can grow up in, if indeed they ever come here.
I demand one thing only - that anyone who starts with that xenophobic nonsense about foreigners not having the right to their opinion, then let these people give me back the million Euro I have invested into the Portuguese economy with my hard work over the last 30 years.
Director and Chief Editor
Editor's note: You can use this email to contact me and I will form a network of those interested to continue this discussion in person. You can also discuss this article at the link below, in our forum. This weekend this article will appear in the section History/Traditions.