‘Screw the Troika’: Tens of thousands protest austerity measures across Portugal

Protests, coordinated through social media by nonpartisangroups, have swept across the country with the biggest massdemonstration taking place in the capital Lisbon.Over 200,000 protesters filled a Lisbon boulevard leading to theFinance Ministry. Many of them were carrying placards and chanting”It’s time for the government to go!” and “Screw the Troika, wewant our lives back,” referring to the lenders from the EuropeanCommission, European Central Bank and International MonetaryFund.People in the crowd were singing “Grandola”, a protest song fromthe 1974 “Carnation revolution” which ousted the fascist dictatorAntonio Salazar and brought the end of the military rule in thecountry. During the past few week activists have sung the song toheckle government ministers making public speeches. What the protesters are demanding is a complete change of thegovernment’s policies aimed at reviving Portugal’s economy as thecounty faces its worst recession since the 1970s.The main reasons of mass protests are an increase in taxes andcuts in public wages imposed by the “Troika” of lenders in exchangefor the 78 billion euro bailout, agreed in mid-2011. The measurepushed unemployment to record levels of 17 per cent.”People are desperate, seeing their incomes fall sharply,their families and friends without jobs,” the WSJ quoted a49-year-old journalist and one of the protest organizers, NunoAlmeida.On Thursday Portugal’s Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelhopromised more spending cuts as a part of a deep reform of thestate, which, he said, is necessary to make lower taxes possible inthe future.”This government has left the people on bread and water,selling off state assets for peanuts to pay back debts that werecontracted by corrupt politicians to benefit bankers,” Reutersquotes one of the protesters said a movie-maker, Fabio Carvalho.”If not today, things have to change tomorrow and we need toremain in the streets for the government to fall.”The rallies were organized in Lisbon, Porto and several dozenother cities via the Internet by a group of activists known as QueSe Lixe a Troika, or Screw the Troika, Reuters reports. These demonstrations coincide with a quarterly review by theEU/IMF bailout inspectors.

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‘Screw the Troika’: Tens of thousands protest austerity measures across Portugal

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