Portugal is living a time of austerity. Portuguese people are leaving the country, mostly the young and qualified adults, due to the difficulties and sense of no hope for a future felt since the arrival of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) in the country.
Portuguese people are known for their ‘mild manners’ (‘brandos costumes’), for the acceptance of the difficulties without a public active positioning. It was this way during the dictatorship (1933-1974), which ended with a peaceful military coup d’etat on 25 April 1974 in Lisbon, known as the Carnation Revolution, since this flower became the symbol of change and freedom when soldiers placed carnations, distributed by a local florist, on the barrels of their rifles.
Another symbol of the revolution is the song “Grândola, Vila Morena” by José Afonso, the ultimate green signal to put the revolution in march (Once it was broadcasted military forces would know they could move forward. It was played on the radio at the early dawn of April 25, 1974). These symbols of a desire for a change, and a call for action, are now being resurrected in public and civic demonstrations.
From younger to elder generations, many portuguese people assume they are outraged. Many have lived under an authoritarian regime with fear and without hope, others remember their parents’ and grandparents’ testimonies about such reality. No one wants history to be repeated. And if forty years ago the anxieties were caused by a providential political regime, nowadays, they are motivated by an external (and also an internal) asphyxiant economical and financial model.
The results are a constantly rising unemployment rate, the sense of failure of the social state, and the certainty of a severe crisis of a country in debt, without a glimpse of improvement or realistic solution. Surely, people wanted to go out in the streets singing “The Times They Are A-Changin’”, instead they are forced to shout “Troika Out”, “F*** Troika! We want our lives!” and to hopefully sing: “Within thee, O city/Within thee, O city/ Who orders the is the people /Land of brotherhood.
The last of these demonstrations ocurred on the 2nd March 2013. After many others during the last year, all of them organized apart from any political parties or affiliations, it is expect that people continue to take the streets to make their voices of despair heard. But, until when?
All photos by Miguel Von Driburg
About the authorSandraB