On March 22nd the second general strike in four months took place in Portugal, ending in confrontations with the police in Lisbon, and once again illustrating the shifting landscape of resistance to the IMF-imposed austerity measures, and capitalism in general. The strike was called by the largest union, CGTP, closely connected to PCP, the communist party, one of the few in Europe who reclaim the ideological heritage of the USSR. Although still a powerful union, the CGTP has lost a lot of influence in the past decades, both because of the historical changes going on in the workplace, but also due to its almost anachronistic methodology and discourse, which alienates a lot of the work force, as well as a lot of the energy dedicated to anti-capitalist struggle. More interesting is the way in which a rising current of new social movements have found in this and previous general strikes opportunities for mass mobilizations, taking the stoppage and interruption of the economy to new spheres, outside of the factories and public services in which the unions still have some power.
More than 95% of metro and port workers follow the call for general strike in Lisbon. Public transportation came to a standstill and CGTP trade union federation said an average of 70% of workers followed the strike. Lisbon and Oporto were partially paralyzed.
But this was a journey of police brutality. There were seven people injured, including two photojournalists, who were violently beaten in a demonstration of two thousand people in the heart of Lisbon to protest against austerity.
One of them, photojournalist José Sena Goulمo talked to PRESS TV by phone while recovering at a Lisbon hospital. He needed 7 stitches in his head. But José was not the only one being beaten for no reason during that moment:
“Clashes between police and demonstrators marked another general strike in Portugal, where two journalists were attacked and beaten by the police and several demonstrators were detained. Key sectors followed the strike, such as public transportation, partially paralyzing the country.”
Back in the demonstration, which ended in front of the parliament, concerns of demonstrators were very clear.
Party leaders where also present. Unemployment and austerity measures, such as cuts in salaries and benefits, where also in their minds. This was a particularly tense day, not only for reporters, but also for demonstrators. At the end of the demonstration, CGTP trade union called for another strike!
Strike after strike, trade union tries to pressure the government…Many say that these measures wont bring nothing but poverty to the Portuguese. But according to the government austerity is here to stay.