Angela Merkel Arrives in Lisbon….
Hundreds turned out to protest Angela Merkel’s arrival in Lisbon on Monday, following the German austerity measures imposed to save Portugal’s failing economy. Merkel met with President Aníbal Cavaco Silva and Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho to discuss Portugal’s progress.
Statues around the city were draped in black as a sign of mourning for a nation struggling to survive under its broken economy. Pictures of Angela Merkel adorned with the Nazi swastika, as well as portraits of the Chancellor in the role of puppet master, could be seen throughout the streets of Lisbon.
Posters, puppets and banners of protest throughout Portugal read, in the Portuguese language, ‘Morte Merkel’ meaning ‘Die Merkel’ and in the German language, ‘Merkel Raus’ meaning ‘Merkel, out!’ One banner even read, ‘Adolf Merkel,’ likening the German Chancellor to the infamous leader of the Nazi Party.
Many Portuguese people, tired of the austerity measures, are extremely dissatisfied at being under the control of Germany. They are experiencing cutbacks put in place to make Portugal eligible for bailout funds of 78 billion euros.
German austerity measures have caused increased levels of poverty, tax boosts on income, automobiles and electricity and a rise in unemployment to over 16%. The elderly and those on minimum wage have also experienced large cuts, the effects of which are due to worsen in the coming year. 2013 will mark Portugal’s third year of recession, where further tax hikes and public spending cuts are expected.
Mrs Merkel pledged to stick by Portugal throughout these ‘very hard’ times, and with brought businessmen with her to invest in the country. Merkel congratulated Portugal on its determined approach to the austerity measures and for the work of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho who, unlike the leaders of Greece, has upheld strict cutback deadlines required for continued financial help. Germany has now begun quarterly reviews of Portugal to ensure they are meeting the deadlines required for continued bailout.
Although Portugal are now being kept on an extremely short leash, Coelho said there was ‘no option’ but to follow Germany’s guidelines for economic recovery as he, like many government leaders, blame the over spending of previous governments for Portugal’s current turmoil.
“Today, we would be living through far, far greater difficulties if our European partners, including Germany, had not helped with the loans we have received.’
The Portuguese public do not demonstrate this same resolve and blame Portugal’s current government as well as the influence of Germany for their economic decline.