The tragic hunger strike mounted outside parliament three days ago by restaurateurs and others with livelihoods ‘on hold’ due to coronavirus restrictions is taking its toll on participants who highlight the fact that in all the time of their poignant vigil not one person from the government (not even a public sector employee) has come forwards to offer so much as a bottle of water.
Talking to SIC television news today, battling chef Ljubomir Stanisic of the ‘Pão e Água’ (Bread and Water) movement reaffirmed that the purpose of the peaceful protest is to raise awareness among the rest of the population of the situation endured by thousands within the hospitality and events sector.
As he spoke, one of his colleagues taking part in the vigil was seen clearly overcome by emotion.
The whole purpose of the Pão e Água movement has been to fight for those who have been ‘forgotten’ in the various government measures designed to make-up for prohibitions on work.
The truth is that thousands have found promised financial support elusive.
A special portal set up for businesses to register for help is reported to have been so inundated with requests that they become ‘blocked’. Frustrations are running high.
Thus the idea of the ‘hunger strike’ to force a meeting with the government – preferably the prime minister or minister of the economy – to ‘move matters along’ before businesses that used to be perfectly healthy sink altogether.
“We’re not going anywhere”, affirmed Stanisic whose recipes are being promoted currently by Expresso.
The 20 or so people taking part in the hunger strike are living in tents that have been constructed outside parliament. They have been surviving since Friday on tea and water.
Says Stanisic, spirits have been heartened by members of the public coming forwards with freshly-brewed tea, but the fact that no-one working in the parliamentary building has even acknowledged the protest speaks volumes.
The hunger strike followed a meeting with President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in which the movement explained how much they needed to speak with a member of government, and then waited in vain.
Hopes mid-November were that Marcelo could facilitate dialogue. Bearing in mind the government has not responded to emails sent in this regard, hopes still rest on Marcelo whose support of the government through this crisis has started to receive criticism from various quarters.