Archive | August 2012

Screw the Troika, We Want Our Lives Back!

This is a call to protest made in the last few days by Portuguese activists for a new day of protest against what is known as the Troika (the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, and the European Central Bank). You can find the protest and the original call in Portuguese here:

Que se Lixe a Troika! Queremos as nossas Vidas – Screw the Troika,  We Want Our Lives!

It is necessary to do something extraordinary. It is necessary to take to the streets and squares in both our cities and our countryside. To join voices and hands. This silence is killing us. The noise of the mainstream media fills the silence, reproduces the silence, spreads the network of lies that puts us to sleep and annihilates our desire. It is necessary to do something to reverse the submission and resignation, to do something against the filtering of ideas and against the death of the collective will. It is necessary to once again call upon our voices, arms and legs, of everyone who knows it is in the streets that the present and the future is decided. It is necessary to overcome the fear that is constantly spread and, once and for all, see that we no longer have much to lose, and that the day will come when everything has been lost because of our silence and our surrender.

The robbery (loan, help, bailout, names given to it according to the lie they wish to tell) came and with it the application of devastating policy measures that involve the exponential rise in unemployment, insecurity, poverty and social inequality; the sale of most state services, compulsive cuts in social security, education, healthcare, culture, and in all public services, cuts so that all the money can be transferred to pay and enrich those who speculated on the national debt. After more than a year of austerity under outside intervention, our outlook, and the outlook of the majority of people who live in Portugal, are increasingly worse.

The austerity imposed on us, and that destroys our dignity and lives, has failed and ruined our democracy. Those who resigned themselves to rule under the memorandum of the Troika give up the key instruments governing the country to the hands of speculators and technocrats applying a economic model that is based on the law of the jungle, law of the strongest, and neglects our society’s interests, our standard of living, and our dignity.

Greece, Spain, Italy, Ireland, and Portugal, countries held captive by the Troika and financial speculation, are impoverished and without sovereignty, as happens to all countries subject to this austerity regime.

Against the inevitability of this imposed death, it is necessary to do something extraordinary.

It is necessary to form alternatives, step by step, which starts with the mobilization of the public in these countries, and that Greek, Spanish, Italian, Irish and Portuguese citizens all come together in joint action, fighting for their lives and uniting their voices.

If they want to force us to accept unemployment, insecurity, and inequality as the new way of life, we will respond with the strength of democracy, freedom, mobilization, and struggle. We want to have in our hands the relevant decisions to construct a future.

This is a call to groups of citizens, and citizens from various areas of policy and political preference. We address ourselves to all people, collectives, movements, associations, non-government organizations, unions, political organizations and parties who agree with the basis of this appeal to come together on the street on September 15th.

They divide us to oppress us. Let’s join together to free ourselves!

With Eyes on Greece, Portugal is Slipping Further into the Abyss

Greece is approaching yet another episode of high social & political tension. The country’s foreign creditors are demanding full compliance with the austerity program after two elections in which anti-austerity forces shattered the ruling political consensus. Greece’s membership in the Euro Zone is again at stake with fears over the consequences an exit would have on Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Ireland.

But news within Portugal increasingly suggest the next domino in the Euro Zone is already falling. The latest official numbers show a program off track, with extensive austerity measures failing to offset falling tax revenue from a Portuguese economy deep in recession. The scenario is not that different from Greece. Portugal is set to miss the deficit target set out in the ‘bailout’  from the IMF and European Union. When Greece faced this scenario, it provoked accusations of Greece breaking commitments and furious demands for Greece to pass through additional austerity.

Now, Portugal, with all attention on Greece’s escalating crisis, faces its own judgment from foreign creditors. How those creditors address Portugal will indicate if there’s been any change of course in European leadership. According to the Diário Económico, the Troika (IMF, EU, ECB) will be updated on the worsening budget numbers and can mandate further austerity this year. Since the right-wing Social Democrats came to power last year, Portugal has been portrayed as an example to Greece. The question is now whether Portugal will receive preferential treatment for the sake of clinging to this myth. My guess, given the hardline taken with far larger Spain, Portugal should expect little lenience from its European creditors.