Portuguese nationwide protests opposing Troika last till Saturday night

2013-03-03 13:00:28 GMT2013-03-03 21:00:28(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

LISBON, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Massive rallies organised by the "screw the troika" movement in over 40 cities across Portugal and abroad to seek an end to austerity policies lasted till Saturday night.

In the demonstration that started from Lisbon's Marques de Pombal square, the movement saw some 50,000 demonstrators chanting anti government slogans such as "Resign, Resign".

In another held in Porto organizers claimed that 40,000 had marched through the city in a bid to end austerity measures.

"We lift our heads and reject the government's call for silence and emigration. This is a public affirmation of a growing willingness for people to take matters into their hands and bring down a corrupt power that has crept up over several governments," said one protestor, a pensioner called Maria Lopes.

Criticism of President Anibal Cavaco Silva was also seen with posters that read, "The head of state may approve austerity, but he subverts the Constitution."

Several union leaders and left leaning parliamentarians were among the protestors as well as presidents of the three main associations representing soldiers and the police force.

In Lisbon, a feminist rainbow movement joined the rally in support of education, health and pensions, with many singing the 1974 revolutionary song "Vila Morena" which was also sung in the afternoon in other cities around the world hosting demonstrations including Barcelona, Boston, Budapest, Stockholm, London, Madrid and Paris.

The leader of Leftist Bloc Joao Semedo joined the protest of Lisbon and called the rally "One of the biggest in our democracy", stating "It is a clear signal to the government that we need to change policy, we must condemn this austerity policy and change the government."

Another protestor Catarina Martins added, "The mass of people who joined the demonstration today in Lisbon will not shut up since the government no longer has legitimacy and must resign."

The demonstrations, which have the support of the main workers' union CGTP, coincided with a visit to Lisbon from the Troika delegation who represent the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund conducting the seventh evaluation of Portugal's bailout and 4-billion-euro (5.2 billion U.S. dollars) spending cuts scheduled for 2014 and 2015.

Late on Saturday, there were still groups of protestors demonstrating in front of the parliarment building where police beefed up deployment.

Portugal's Minister of Finance Vitor Gaspar admitted last week in a televised press conference that the government would now be seeking until 2015 to reduce its deficit below 3 percent of GDP in order to ease spending cuts and tax hikes, however, the deficit target of 4.5 percent would have to be hit by the end of 2013.

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