Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Anti-austerity Protestors in Portugal: "Screw the troika, we want our lives back"

Austerity is spreading across the globe like a bad virus, despite the vehement opposition of the general population. In Portugal, thousands of demonstrators have held marches across the country in protest. From Al Jazeera:
Tens of thousands of people filled a Lisbon boulevard during Saturday's protests and headed to the finance ministry carrying placards saying "Screw the troika, we want our lives back". 
The troika is a reference to the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the lenders behind the country's financial bailout. 
Many protesters were singing a 40-year-old song linked to a 1974 popular uprising known as the Carnation Revolution. 
Portugal is expected to suffer a third straight year of recession in 2013, with a two percent contraction. The overall jobless rate has grown to a record 17.6 percent. The marches were powered mostly by young people among whom unemployment is close to 40 percent.
 ...After several years of tax increases and welfare cuts, austerity is poised to deepen as the government looks for another $5.2bn to cut over the next two years. The national health service, education, pensioners and government workers are likely to be the hardest hit. The government is locked into debt-cutting measures in return for the $102bn financial rescue set up in 2011.  
More tax hikes and spending cuts are on the way for Portugal: when it comes to the IMF, you must pay your debts regardless of the consequences. That was always the IMF way of course, but when austerity plus regressive taxation was being imposed on impoverished countries with disastrous social and economic results, the global North didn't seem too bothered by it. One protestor in Lisbon is quoted as saying, "This government has left the people on bread and water, selling off state assets for peanuts to pay back debts that were contracted by corrupt politicians to benefit bankers." That scenario is lifted straight out of the IMF's playbook throughout Africa in the 1990s.

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