My father, who still lives back in Prince George, British Columbia, listens to a lot of Portuguese radio while he works. When we talk on the phone he always starts talking about the economic crisis Portugal is going through. He tells me about phone-in shows on Radio Renascença and how everybody that phones in speaks of how the country is going from bad to worse and how the lives of the Portuguese is following suit.
From the perspective of someone like my dad, Portugal is in deap dire straits - we're all in deap suffering and there's no way out of it any time soon. Of course in our day-to-day lives here we don't really see this - the cafés are still full, the cars on the streets are newer and newer and, lets face it, everything still looks the same. From the passivism of the people here, even if unemployment is at 10%, it looks like we're still a long way from turning into Greece.
I am, however, fascinated with how the foreign press sees what is going on in Portugal, economically speaking. On the 23rd of January a story in the (Canadian) Globe and Mail stated: "the (Portuguese) government has enacted deeply unpopular austerity measures amid fears that the financial crisis spells economic crisis for Portugal". Well surely any austerity measure is bound to be unpopular, theoretically speaking, but how did the Global and Mail reach the conclusion that it was "deeply unpopular"? Is it the daily protest marches? The sit-ins? The vandalising of storefront windows? Besides a day-long strike and the half-day ones in certain labour sectors, I don't see any deep displeasure with what's going on.
Much has been written about the IMF bail out and how, even though Portugal claims that it won't be necessary, the country (and above all P.M. José Sócrates) sits in denial. A January 12th Reuters news piece entitled 'Bailout Would Hurt Portuguese Pride, Again' pointed out that: "Wounded pride (caused by the coming of the IMF) could give away to another Portuguese trait, a tradition of resignation to a sad fate summed up in its fado music". Yes, so true - denial, leading to reality sinking in, turned to 'we're used to it; it's in our blood'.
So is it so bad, this crisis? Maybe, but we're trying not to look it in the eyes. We're all just sitting back waiting on 'the super powers', and only when they come will the mighty evil crisis be overthrown. It might get messy but the capes await us.