Anti-austerity protesters in Lisbon planned demonstrations and draped statues in black mourning sashes on Monday, as the Portuguese capital was visited by Angela Merkel.
The German Chancellor was on a six-hour visit and was expected to renew her support for the country’s current austerity measures.
Her first direct government meeting to Portugal since she took office seven years ago is also expected to help her domestically, as she tries to demonstrate the money Germany has put into eurozone rescue funds has been well spent.
Portugal is currently suffering its worst economic slump since the 1970s, something which is testing the much commented-on ‘stoic patience’ of the Portuguese people.
But Portuguese Prime Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho, blames the country’s debt situation – for which they had to seek a 78-billion-euro bailout – on the previous government and says there is no other way out of the crisis than following the austerity plan.
São José Lapa is a well-known Portuguese actress who was among 100 people who signed an open letter to Chancellor Merkel to tell her she is unwelcome in the country. The letter reads:
“I want to say to Mrs. Merkel: ‘You have to stop putting your paws in all the countries of Europe that have great problems like ours. It’s an indecency to our nationality. You seem like you are the owner, that this is your territory’.”
Marco Marques is a protest leader in the “Que se lixe a troika” (Damn the troika) movement. He says:
“She’s not coming to re-evaluate her policies, she’s coming to sell Portugal. She is coming to Portugal with a group of businessmen to diagnose the misery.”
Police numbers were increased for the visit, which had been front page news for days.
But Angela Merkel is not expected to be greeted by the same level of violence seen in Greece during her visit a month ago, when protesters chanted Nazi insults and threw teargas.