15 Mar 2012
Ever since April 6 of 2011, Portugal has been living under the ominous trifecta of IMF, ECB and European Commission. We have a government, yes, but since the money that keeps the country moving is being "generously" loaned by this entities, they gave themselves the right to tell how the state does its thing. And their remedy for our unbalanced budget and growing debt is austerity. It is the latest trend in economic and financial policies in this continent. Applicable where and when there is a slight case of economic woe, or financial market distrust. Look how well it's going in Greece.
The thing is, those measures destined to reduce government spending are mostly hurting low income people, who need them to, let's say, have a roof over their heads, or eat, or survive. Most of the country, considering there is now a 13.5% unemployed rate, about one third of young people can't find a job and those who can are greeted with a minimum wage of 485€. The ones who live through that are treated to a pension that can be inferior to 400€ (as low as 254€). Need medicine, old men? Too bad, you can't afford it. Oh, never mind, you probably don't even have a doctor to prescribe them. There is one 30 km away. What, you don't have a car? Use the bus... oh wait, those are gone to... or too expensive.
For people that have been promised paradises by government after government, this is a harsh reality. And they show it. Strike after strike, protest after protest, tired of being stripped of rights and seeing the cost of bad management of public funds go unpunished (even the seemingly criminal behavior), crowds gather in the streets, wave flags, beg for mercy and threaten to escalate if the states takes even more from them. There has been already some violence and small riots, but fortunately still far away from the extreme situations from Greece. However, the more is taken in the name of austerity, the less there is too loose. And when is nothing less to loose, all bets are off.