Feature: Anger pervades Portugal’s Carnation Revolution anniversary

LIZBON (CIHAN)- Anger instead of euphoria pervaded Friday’s 40th anniversary of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution that ended Europe’s longest dictatorship, as Portuguese found they are scourged by a financial dictatorship — the worst economic recession since the 1970s.
The parade that involved thousands of people in downtown Lisbon to mark the Carnation Revolution, named after the flowers protesters placed in the military’s guns during the peaceful uprising on April 25, 1974 that put an end to 48 years of dictatorship and 13 years of colonial war, largely turned into a protest against the government’s austerity measures.
“Government step down!” chanted the marchers, including children, holding up banners and carnation flowers and playing drums. Some sang “Grandola Vila Morena,” a revolutionary song from the 1970s, which has reverberated in recent protests.
Three consecutive years of austerity measures implemented after the financial crisis have angered Portuguese who believe that their rights, hard won during the revolution, have again been stripped amid government’s spending cuts and tax hikes.
“I’m here to celebrate a historic event which had many positive consequences for us, but I’m also here to revindicate our rights,” said Silvio Mendes, 30, a communications professional.
“Many of the rights we conquered after the revolution are being threatened because of our government,” he said.
The celebrations also were boycotted by key figures of the revolution, who said they felt betrayed by the three-year government austerity.
Portugal signed a 78-billion-euro bailout program in May 2011 with the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, under which Portugal was obliged to make tough spending cuts and other austerity measures in exchange for emergency financial assistance.
Emigration has reached levels similar to those in the 1960s, with thousands of skilled workers fleeing the country to find opportunities abroad.
Portugal is still one of the poorest countries in southern Europe and the unemployment rate is at a troubling 15.3 percent.
The Portuguese are losing hope, said sociologist Elisio Estanque.
“The Portuguese are pessimistic by nature and the rise in poverty and unemployment has intensified this attitude,” he said, adding that young people have taken a center stage at protests across the country with dozens of protests and commemorations organized via social networking sites.
“Young people taking on a main role in protests shows that the spirit of the April 25 hasn’t died and that they still dream with a more democratic and just society,” Estanque added. Enditem (CihanXinhua)