Thirty thousand marched in Lisbon Saturday to protest against the bail out plan, or ‘pact of aggression’ one year since it was agreed between the Portuguese government and the IMF-EU-ECB Troika.
Attacks on public services, welfare, rising unemployment and inequalities were among the main themes of the protest, which was led by the Portuguese Communist Party but involved many non-communists.
Communist leader Jerónimo de Sousa told the crowds that ‘we must put an end to this Pact of Agression before it puts an end to the country and destroys the lives of millions of Portuguese’ and called for the unity of ‘all democrats and patriots who reject the liquidation of the sovereignty of their country.’
At the end of the demonstration de Sousa, whose party has 16 seats in parliament after garnering 7.9% of the vote in elections last year, said: ‘We leave here convinced and confident that you can win, bringing more and more Portuguese into the patriotic struggle to reject the aggression pact’ and for ‘a new political alternative. The fight will continue.’
The protest came a day after Portugal’s Parliament endorsed a four-year budget plan that places legal limits on state spending, despite the disastrous impact cuts are having in the country.
Last week the OECD downgraded Portugal’s growth forecasts, citing weak domestic demand and government austerity measures. It had previously expected the country to next year come out of this year’s deep recession but now expects recession in 2013 too.
Unemployment has been rising sharply over the past 12 months and now stands at 15%.