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article imageVideo: Anti-austerity demonstration in Portugal

By Anne Sewell     Sep 16, 2012 in World
Lisbon - The streets of Portugal were filled with around 150,000 people on Saturday, rallying and protesting against a planned tax hike in the country.
Portugal's center-right government has recently announced a planned tax hike. Protesters made their opinions known in the streets of Lisbon and other cities of Portugal, chanting, "Out of here! IMF is hunger and misery!", and calling for the Portuguese government to resign.
Spending cuts and tax hikes imposed in the country by last year's bailout have added to record unemployment (above 15%) and have pushed the economy into its worst recession since the 1970's.
In Lisbon, approximately 50,000 protesters, consisting of students and CGTP (Portugal's largest union) members, rallied to tell their country's leaders to "Stop social terrorism."
Around the same number was seen in Porto, and several thousands of other demonstrators turned up in 30 other cities across Portugal.
A bank worker, Joao Pascual, told Reuters, "People are fed up with being robbed by this government's policy, which now threatens to strangle us. If there's enough of us today in the streets we'll show that there is a complete divorce between this government and the will of the people."
Andre Pestana, an unemployed teacher, Andre Pestana, said, "It's time to say enough to robbery and lies. The government has failed on all its promises … I hope this rally is the first step in the process of changing things."
While protests were mostly peaceful and incident-free, one young protester was taken to hospital with burns in the northern town of Aveiro, after an attempted self-immolation.
In Lisbon, protesters clashed with police in front of Parliament, as demonstrators threw tomatoes and fireworks at the Portuguese headquarters of the International Monetary Fund. Two protesters were arrested, but other than this the rally was peaceful.
The demonstration march ended at the Square of Spain, near the Spanish Embassy, where protesters gathered to voice solidarity with the protesters in neighboring Spain, who also rallied, as reported on Digital Journal, on Saturday against spending cuts and tax hikes.
Last week, Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho announced an increase in workers' social security contributions from 11 up to 18 percent of their monthly salary. The country's Finance Minister, Vitor Gaspar announced that income taxes will go up next year and public employees will lose either their Christmas or vacation bonus, roughly equivalent to a month's income.
Magda Alves, one of the protesters, told AP that austerity measures being introduced to overcome the eurozone financial crisis are not working. She said, "What is being done in Portugal now was done in Greece, it is being done in Spain, and was also applied in other countries on other continents."
"The result was always the same: disaster," she added.
More about Portugal, Lisbon, Porto, Protest, Austerity
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