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Portuguese protest against government austerity measures


11:05, April 14, 2013

LISBON, April 13 (Xinhua) -- Some 1,000 Portuguese took to the streets in capital Lisbon on Saturday in protest against the government's tough austerity measures that were widely blamed for deepening economic recession in the heavily debted country.

Two groups of protesters who started off from Garden of Principe Real and Cais de Sodre in downtown Lisbon marched towards the country's parliament building after they converged in Luis de Camoes Square.

Raising high placards, the angry protesters chanted anti-government slogans, demanding that government increase investment, reduce unemployment rate and raise minimum wages.

Secretary-General of Portugal's main workers' union CGTP Armenio Carlos called for more people to participate in the street protests, safeguard their own rights and benefits and oppose the government's austerity policy.

"We are protesting against government's austerity, high unemployment rate, everything," a man in his early 30s who identified himself as one of the organizers told Xinhua. "The unemployment is as high as 20 percent, more than the government's official figure," he added.

Another man also in his 30s who works at a post office said the demonstration was mainly pointing to the government's austerity measures.

"The austerity has made the poor live a more difficult life. The government only cares about the benefits of their friends and monopolies instead of those of the ordinary people and the state," he said.

Under a 78-billion-euro bailout agreement with the troika in May 2011, Portugal has been implementing a harsh austerity policy which has sparked widespread protests across the country in recent months.

The protest came just two days before the troika, comprising the European Union, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank, is scheduled to arrive in Lisbon on Monday after Portuguese Constitutional Court ruled earlier this month that four articles of the 2013 budget were unlawful.

The court ruling has made it more difficult for the Portuguese government to meet its newly readjusted public deficit target of 5.5 percent of its GDP this year by the troika, as the government has to further reduce public spending to compensate for the 1.3-billion-euro loss.

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