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Portugal and Greece – Same problems, same struggle, same solution

CADPP, 23/05/2012

If lowering taxes on the profits of large investors and banks, and raising taxes on workers' wages were beneficial for the economic well-being of a nation,

if maximizing labour flexibility and facilitating lay-offs were beneficial for job creation,

if multiplying the burdens of public debt year after year were the solution for economic and financial troubles,

then we would have reached full employment, social welfare and high wages a long time ago. It is necessary to refresh our memories and take into account that these have been the policies undertaken by the Portuguese government even before the fiscal consolidation programmes and the Troika Memorandum – these policies have merely been deepened as of late.

The austerity measures amount to nothing other than theft. What we are witnessing is the imposition of austerity measures on the workers while the banks and large investors revel in ease.


Austerity is hell for the workers. And hell cannot be renegotiated

The numbers don't lie: the beneficiaries of this blatantly unfair treatment show rising profits year after year, while the victims of austerity are sinking into ever deepening misery.

It is a fact that some banks suffered mishaps due to speculative adventures and fraudulent undertakings. But this cannot impair our discernment: since the end of World War II, never has the gap between rich and poor been so wide; never has the accumulation of vast fortunes reached such levels; never has hunger, misery and insecurity plagued the people of Europe to such an extent.

If the health of the banking sector, as we are led to believe, is essential for the economy and the welfare of society as a whole, then it should follow that this sector of the economy cannot remain under the control of private interests – it must be controlled by society as a whole.

In Greece, as in Portugal, the more vulnerable sectors of the population are left to fend for themselves under the pretext that “there is no money” – but if this is so, how can one explain the availability of the astronomical amounts used to purchase military equipment from France and Germany?

In regards to austerity and debt-inducing measures, there are no essential differences between Portugal and Greece

The two countries may well find themselves in different stages of the descent into misery and social havoc – but one must take into account that the implementation of austerity measures were not initiated, nor were they applied in the same manner nor rhythm across European countries. However it is clear that the cause and nature of such measures are the same across the board.


The solution is necessarily the same for the whole of Europe:

  • The withdrawal of austerity measures for workers;
  • The withdrawal of measures that strip workers of their rights;
  • The suspension of the payment of public debt, alongside an independent audit of the public debt;
  • The nationalization or socialization of the banking sector and of all strategic resource sectors (energy, water, etc);
  • A more just and equitable fiscal policy;
  • The reestablishment of the social State in all its functions.

There is, however, some differences amongst peripherial European nations. One of these differences is the fact that in Greece, for example, a large part of the population has already become aware of the nature and consequences of the austerity and debt-inducing policies, and has decided to confront these policies by any means necessary.

When the mainstream media and the leaders of Europe vilify parties and coalitions like Syriza, in reality what they are doing is detracting the public's attention from one main issue: those who are demanding the end of austerity measures, the end of debt-slavery and the end of the dictatorship of the lords of finance are the people, on the street. The above mentioned political organizations are merely the institutional expressions of these aspirations and the vehicle for the fulfilment of these demands. And even if these political organizations were to backtrack, it is clear for all those following the recent events in Greece that this would in no way undermine the determination of the population.

What fills the European governors with fear is the awakening of the oppressed peoples; it is civic intervention; it is democracy in action; it is self-organization aimed at resolving the problems that governors cannot.

The existence of fear in the face of dynamic civic action is the only reason that allows one to understand the reason behind the crazed decision by the head of a municipality, who sent his troops in a brutal attack against the unarmed populace at the Fontinha school, destroying class rooms, libraries, computers, kitchen utensils and even toilets in what was clearly a scorched earth policy.

The fear in the face of the growing strength of social movements is the only reason that allows one to understand the reason behind the crazed decision on the part of the Greek government to build concentration camps for refugees, and the sealing of the entrance of the hospitals in which pregnant women could not afford medically assisted childbirth due to its 900 Euro fee.

One cannot comply nor negotiate with such barbaric acts. Not here, not in Greece, nor in any part of the world. It is for these reasons we subscribe Mr. Alexis Tsipras' statement: "Austerity is hell. And hell cannot be renegotiated."

In the next few days, with the elections in Greece fast approaching, and after the result of these elections, the continuation of barbaric acts on the part of the Greek and European governments as well as on the part of the extreme right-wing factions are to be expected. For this reason we call for solidarity with the Greek people – solidarity which all can demonstrate without much effort, be it on an individual basis, or through social movements, or by using the media and communication tools at one's disposal.


Lisbon, 23-05-2012

CADPP - Committee for the Annulation of the Portuguese Public Debt [Comité para a Anulação da Dívida Pública Portuguesa]


Index of this dossier

themes: Grécia, Portugal, austeridade

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