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General Strike in Portugal Escalates into Violence


Last Thursday, 22 March, Portugal's two major citiesLisbon and Porto, were paralysed by a general strike that left public transportation, shipyards, schools and hospitals at a standstill. Thousands hit the streets in protest against austerity measures implemented to please the mighty ‘gods’, the EU and the IMF. Police were present in large numbers, including undercover, amongst the demonstrators. Several verbal and physical confrontations occurred, and in Lisbon seven were injured including two photojournalists. Tensions were at their peak due to the disproportionate police brutality. In one case, regardless of one of the victims screaming “I am a journalist! I am a journalist!”, the violent beating did not stop. Other footage show bleeding heads and in particular, one middle aged woman being violently thrown to the ground.

Since the IMF entered Portugal several austerity measures and liberalisations have been taking place in order to gain eligibility to a rescue package. This package amounts to 78 billion euros, which in turn will cost 34,4 billion in interest rates. Most of this loan will go straight to the banking industry where the State will be excluded from management decisions. For the public this will mean having to work more for less and most public services, including health care, education and social services will suffer severe cuts. In addition, supposedly to increase competitiveness, dismissals will be thoroughly facilitated. Companies will have more means to dismiss workers at their disposal, and redundancy pay will be reduced. Alongside these measures, the government will attempt to rescue 5,.5 billion euros with the privatisation of major public companies suppliers of electricity, gas and transports. EDP, the main energy company has already gone through the privatisation process and now its biggest stakeholder is China Three Gorges (aka CTG).


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