The measures proposed by the Troïka (EU, ECB, IMF) in Greece, in Ireland and in Portugal have plunged these countries into chaos and poverty. Across Europe we must sink or swim together. From Portugal to Greece democracy has lost its meaning; the civil services and governments of these countries are at the service of the bankers.
Portugal is the last of these countries to be put under the supervision of the Troïka, a year after Greece and six months after Ireland. The minimum wage is 485€ before tax, the lowest in Europe; unemployment affects 15% of the population and 35% of the young people; 23.2% of paid workers (54.6% of 15-24 year olds) are linked to their employers by a fixed-term or temporary contract. Prices, on the other hand, are all rising fast. Petrol, for example, is more expensive than in France. At the moment 25% of the Portuguese people live below the poverty threshold.
The austerity measures imposed by the Troïka and the Portuguese government are as harsh as in Greece and Ireland. Benefits and pensions, already pathetically low, have been drastically reduced. Budget cuts have been imposed in health and education. Some people suffering from cancer can no longer continue their treatments, dozens of hospitals are short of medical supplies, and in some cases operations have been cancelled due to lack of dressings. The Ministry of Culture has been abolished and public transport and the media have been privatised. Many civil servants have been dismissed without notice.
By demonstrating our solidarity we are actively supporting the people of Europe who are struggling against austerity measures. In the same way that the media have silenced the struggles of the Greek people, they are now concealing the social and political situation in Portugal. For months now, Portuguese society as a whole has been openly expressing its indignation. Its temporary workers’ movement is one of the strongest in Europe. Even the armed forces have protested several times against the budget cuts.
The Portuguese people have been pushed into forced emigration by their own government. The current Prime Minister of Portugal Passos Coelho has openly encouraged the unemployed to emigrate and various government members have been urging young people to do so for months now. In 2011, more than 120,000 Portuguese people emigrated. These figures that are similar to those of the 60s when the Portuguese were escaping from the colonial war in Angola and the conditions of poverty imposed by the Salazar dictatorship.
The policy of the Troïka (EU, ECB, IMF) and of the Sarkozy-Merkel partnership condemns all the European peoples to deplorable living conditions. They do not represent us.
On 22 March, the same day as the general strike against the austerity measures, we will show our solidarity with the Portuguese people.
We are all Portuguese!
For a European general strike!
Called by Portuguese people and citizens in solidarity
Translation: Ann Oltra