Portugal revolts against blindness

Millions of people across Portugal and Spain took to the streets today, joining the rest of Europe in a protest against austerity measures which have seen the middle classes reduced to poverty, which have swept away workers' rights as Governments try to cover the failure of the EU model with Excel sheet governance.

Austerity, stubbornness and blind politicians

I have a theory about the EU and its politicians: it has become a supra-national club for failed politicians at home, their wives, husbands, sons, daughters, nieces, sister-in-laws, third cousins twice removed, the milkman's daughter, godparents, godchildren, neighbours, friends, friends of friends and friends of friends of friends to make a pretty penny at the expense of the taxpayer. Oh sorry, and nephews. One has only to research the myriad of EU institutions, committees and organisms to see this clearly.

What has happened, which is also crystal clear, is that the way has been paved for Germany and France to cohabit in peace while feathering their nests. This has been done at the expense of the peripherical nations which over time have been financed to destroy their economies, then when they had nothing left, were financed to pay their bills, but with a massive tail attached which leaves them regally, forbid the term, screwed.

Let me tell you a story

Once upon a time there was a strip of land sitting alongside the west coast of Spain, a land that had to fight for its independence several times against its larger neighbour, and against the might of Napoleon's France. This land was called Portugal. Over its five hundred years of history, stuck as far away from the heart of Europe as was geographically possible, and hundreds of miles away from the nearest "European" city, Madrid, Portugal soon learnt that its space was not turned towards Europe, but rather, towards the Atlantic.

This Atlantic nation, despite despicable management by generations of traitors working more for themselves than for a national plan, which since the fifteenth century has ceased to exist (with a few notable exceptions), managed to implant its culture across vast swathes of the world. From Ceuta to the East Coast of China, there are no less than three thousand Portuguese fortresses, as settlements and trading posts were set up from a developmental point of view, a policy using integration and collaboration rather than high-handedness and massacres. As the saying goes, "God created Brazil, the Portuguese created the mulatto" (no racism or sexism intended).

That strip of land is host to the fifth most spoken language in the world, behind Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, English and Spanish, a language spoken in many communities far beyond the eight countries which have Portuguese as their official language - the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries, or CPLP (Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe Isles and East Timor).

Quite apart from this, the Portuguese culture, mixed with local cultures, lore, traditions and customs, is spread out along thousands upon thousands of miles of coastline from Latin America to Europe, from the West to East coasts of Africa, parts of India and the Far East, on the East coast of the United States, and in the cities of Switzerland, France, Germany, Luxemburg, the UK, South Africa, Australia, to name but a few.

Portugal spent five centuries with its back turned to Europe, relying on the space it had created to survive, as a pluri-national state with its metropolis in Lisbon. As usual, political blindness from António Salazar, the President of the Council of Ministers for decades, saw this space beset by acrimony and fighting in a proxy war among peoples who formerly, and later, got along like brothers.

Without anyone bothering to research whether that strip of land in Europe, alone, would be a viable proposition, in the 1980s, Portugal suddenly turned its back on its space, turned to the East, climbed into bed with Europe and, pardon the expression, rolled over and got it way up there where the sun doesn't shine.

As five hundred years of history were forgotten, Europe welcomed Portugal by saying "Hey! Tell ya what! We'll finance you to destroy your industries! If you play along, we'll pat you on the head, call you a good student and say nice things about you!"

For the sort of sycophantic, narcissistic idiots running Portugal since then (albeit with few exceptions), the orgasm was massive as they preened themselves, basking in the torrents of praise from "Europe" as rivers of money poured in and destroyed Portugal's industry.

Shortly afterwards, back came Europe. "Hey! We have another idea! We'll finance your farmers to sit on their backsides scratching themselves and to not produce anything. Not even a Euro-apple which measures six point seven three eight centimetres and which has three point four seeds! Oi!! Bring us another beer!"

"Wonderful," thought the enlightened Portuguese politicians, "What a wonderful idea! I always wanted to bury my roots from the countryside anyway and change the name of my birthplace from 'well' to 'fountain'!" and there went the Portuguese agricultural sector down the river, along with the fisheries, shortly afterwards.

There ensued Delors packages of financing as a sea of Euro funds poured into Portugal in Regional Development Funds, called FEDER (or was that letter an O?) and after that, with less enthusiasm, as the new babes from the East joined the club, the Santer packages...and then the tap was shut off, abruptly.

"OK" said Europe "You have had your financing, and that, boys and girls, is it. The party is over!" "But..." replied Portugal, "But....but....but...wait a minute here, you financed us to destroy our industries, our agriculture and our fisheries, you called us a good student, so now what?"

"Do you really believe in free lunches? Get real, this is the European Union. It isn't a peep show. You're big, you kick ass. You're not big? Tough, you get your ass kicked. Get used to it!"

"But...we're....we're bankrupt!"

"No you aren't. Shhhh! Don't say that, you'll have the markets going wild and you'll see your bonds reduced to junk level. Tell ya what, we'll get the IMF together, and the ECB and see if we can put a package together so that you can pay pensions and salaries for a few months till you get yourselves sorted. Now how much do you need? Eighty billion? OK here you go...one...two...three...seventy-nine, eighty! Of course, you have to pay it back..... Plus interest (a sinister laugh follows, front-stage Angela Merkel appears, reaches behind her, pulls the Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Coelho from the back of her pants, high-kicks him into the audience and shrieks "We haf done it!").

Portugal now has little industry, no agriculture to speak of, few fisheries, a massive debt, no way of making enough money to pay the interest, its public assets being sucked into the EU convergence black hole year by year, soon will have no money to pay Social Security, pensions down the line will probably be reduced to a minimum salary for all, at best, no possibility of increasing its GDP so as to pay off what it owes. Oh, and its bonds remain at junk status, there are few jobs because the economy has been destroyed by the EU and by the austerity measures which took money out rather than pumping it in.

In 2013, around 100,000 young people in a population of ten million will leave and no, this time the government and its advisors have got it totally wrong. They won't come back, probably not even for a holiday. Nice one, EU, nice one Portuguese politicians since 1986. Thank you. Porreiro, pá!

And there the story ends, ladies and gentlemen. If you are elderly in Portugal, you probably have a miserable pension which sees you negotiate in pharmacies which medicines you can buy, or else you are forced to rear chickens and rabbits to eat until your bones freeze up. If you are middle aged, you are looking over your shoulder wondering when your job is going to go, or else are forced to work 18 hours a day by some control freak who says if you don't, your work-post is on the line...if you are young, you might get a job without a receipt, meaning you don't have social security contributions, no contract or any other right to benefit, or if you do get a contract it will be for a paltry 700 Euro at most which doesn't even start to pay a rent.

Rents will remain high, so you have to live with your parents until you are middle aged and Aunty Maria finally dies and leaves you the fortune she made by not producing wine; the banks will not lend you money to buy a house and will demand around fifty per cent as a down payment.

Your politicians will continue to claim that Portugal's strategic benefit is its low salaries (it's like saying you can reduce weight for free by contracting botulism), your bosses will tell you if you work 18 hours a day you can receive more hours of pay, or keep your job, the austerity measures adopted by your government will continue to bite deep for years to come.

Your finance minister will continue to use Excel sheet government policies, he will continue to forget that economics is a social and human behavioural science as much as an exercise of cognitive intelligence and sums, your Prime Minister will continue to call you "cry-babies" and other pieces of excrement floating at the top of your society will continue to accuse you of being lazy and wanting to eat meat every day, or words to that effect.

Don't worry. It can only get worse, it's a question of mathematics.

And that is why Portugal has a general strike today.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey



Author`s name Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey