Portugal is going through one of the most trying times in its history, which it needs to overcome quickly or risk, if it does not do so, triggering serious tensions and the resulting social upheavals.
The causes lie mainly in the misapplication of funds loaned by the EU for the effort involved in adhering and adapting to the demands of the Union, which stemmed from the ongoing incompetence, since it cannot be called anything else, of those who govern us.
It was the country where the EU invested most “per capita” and the one which garnered the least benefit from these investments. It failed to modernise, it failed to improve the lot of the working classes, the quality of education degenerated, it sold off or privatised even core activities and property that could today be a pillar of support for our economy.
The funds were channelled into motorways, football stadiums, the creation of hundreds of public-private partnerships, foundations and institutes of dubious usefulness, financial aid for companies which used it for their own exclusive benefit, payments to farmers to leave their fields and to fishermen to sell their boats, aid that was strategically aimed at members of the main political parties or those close to these individuals, high earnings in the upper classes of the public administration, the tacit disinterest of justice in the face of rampant corruption and an almost total disinterest on the part of the tax authorities with regard to the effectiveness of the tax machine.
Increasingly discredited parties function essentially as employment agencies that hire the most corrupt and incapable, allowing them to remain throughout changes in governments, being transformed into an enormous parasitic weight. Thus, the civil service behemoth, advised by powerful trade unions, and expensive and outdated armed forces, have become not a solution but a great weight in the problems of the country.
At the heart of this apparent dead-end is the lack of preparation, or rather, the ignorance of a population left to fend for itself in this fulcral and determining aspect. Ill-prepared on the school benches, in secondary schools and universities, it has little or no capacity for decision, except that which is served up to it by the media. And therein lies the big problem of this small country: TVs, radios and newspapers belong, in their entirety, to private parties with links to high finance, industry, commerce and banking and have shareholders coming in from several countries.
It is of course obvious that these ingredients do not make for a healthy meal, just the meals recommended by the “chef”. Hence the stagnation that has been conducive to the increasing divide between rich and poor.
There is not even a single path available to the more enlightened among us, who are therefore considered “non grata” by the establishment, whereby they can shed light on new ideas and on the reality of the country, which is wrapped in a convenient thick black fog that allows us to see only the sellers of pre-fabricated ideas and scenarios that are recommended for maintaining the feeling of freedom and the operation of a proclaimed democracy.
In order to turn this situation around, we need to have a population which lives “close to the ground”, which limits itself to the essential when it thinks, which is fair and generous in conflicts, which, by governing, does not attempt to control, which works at that which it likes and which, fundamentally, keeps in mind that the family must be always present.
We shall see….