Thousands of people have staged a march in the Portuguese capital to protest against the austerity measures imposed by the government.
On Saturday, the rally, which had been organized by the General Confederation of the Portuguese Workers (CGTP), was held in the streets of Lisbon to protest rising poverty in the country. "Unemployment in Portugal is a national disgrace," and "a minimum wage increase is a necessity," the demonstrators shouted. The protesters also called on the resignation of the government. The European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund granted Portugal an emergency loan worth 78 billion euros (102 billion US dollars) after the country‘s borrowing costs soared to unsustainable levels in 2011. In return, the Portuguese government imposed a series of deeply unpopular austerity measures to meet the conditions of the international bailout of its economy. Portugal’s main opposition party -- the Socialists -- has accused Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho’s government of applying austerity at any cost and plunging millions of Portuguese into poverty, while failing to meet growth and deficit targets. Portugal is grappling with its worst recession since the 1970s. The country is bracing for a record 18.2 percent jobless rate this year, up from last year’s 16.9 percent.