The government’s latest convoluted round of restrictions – ostensibly designed to help ‘control the pandemic’ – are not being well received, either by the general population or media commentators.
A study conducted by research agency multidados.com for Guess What found that 76.4% of Portuguese disagrees with the tiered system of restrictions – albeit being overwhelming in favour of some of the measures – while media commentators are nothing like as generous.
Commentator Henrique Raposo – a fierce critic of what he calls ‘the apocalyptic narrative’ of the pandemic, describes the new measures presented on Saturday evening as a “a sea of contradictions from a government that has lost its way”.
Common observations have stressed that “the prime minister seemed to be basing the government’s actions on newspaper stories. He didn’t show any scientific basis for them during the announcement”.
Stressed Raposo, we’re still in a situation where playgrounds are closed, schools are being closed, but shopping malls remain open.
In conversation with Rádio Renascença, writer Jacinto Lucas Pires has pointed out that Portugal has already suffered two periods of confinement. They haven’t ‘flattened the curve’ (“so why should they now?”) but they have severely impacted businesses (and will continue to do so).
Former minister of interior administration Rui Pereira, himself a regular ‘commentator’ for tabloid Correio da Manhã has also raised criticism, saying it is “important that political power listens to science and the doctors… if this is what is happening, it is not clear…”
All in all the draconian weekend lockdowns facing large swathes of the country from 1pm on both Saturdays and Sundays for the next two weeks – in areas that already suffer weekly nighttime curfews – are getting the thumbs down from all sides.
Over the weekend, venerated poet Manuel Alegre – a former Socialist politician who stood for the presidency against Marcelo in 2015 – told Diário de Notícias, “we are witnessing the deconstruction of democracy within democracy itself”.
84-year-old Alegre was talking in the context of a 30-page poem he has just published, entitled: “When one makes a first examination of the oppression experienced due to the pandemic”…
Meantime the movement “for Liberty” that held a demonstration outside Belém Palace yesterday (Sunday) in protest to the latest restrictions has been assured by President Marcelo of an audience to air their grievances.
The movement held two ‘honking protests’ in a stream of vehicles in Lisbon and Porto yesterday. Banners emblazoned with “End Unconstitutional Laws”, “PCR tests give 90% false positive” and “Masks don’t Protect” were waved in Porto as restaurant workers gave interviews to Lusa.
Vítor Pinto, a chef who has lost his job due to the pandemic, said: “What is happening because of this second wave is just not justifiable. We now have a virus that is much worse (than Covid-19). It’s a virus of hunger, misery, poverty and it’s happening all over Portugal”.
He said the main point of Sunday’s protest was that the current situation did not merit a State of Emergency that sends businesses into bankruptcy.
Fellow demonstrator Helena Quental railed:“individual liberty is being annihilated every day… I did not give the government the right to decide when I should die, or how I should die…”
The sense that this is a country where people are ‘pulling together’ and ‘in the same boat’ is fast disappearing – even from the pages of a media that up till now has been willingly disseminating what Henrique Raposo calls ‘the apocalyptic narrative’.