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Massive protests in Portugal against austerity measures


Lisbon, Mar 2 (EFE).- For Lisbon and more than 30 cities in Portugal, Friday was a day of massive demonstrations expressing citizens' resentment and discontent after more than two months of austerity measures.

The biggest protest, the one in the Portuguese capital, ended with the hymn to the 1974 revolution sung by hundreds of thousands in the Plaza de Comercio in defiance of the government, whose resignation was repeatedly called for.

Among the more than 500,000 people who, according to the organizers, joined in the protest was Maria Chaves, a cashier who has been unemployed for more than two years.

"We can't take it anymore. We have to destroy this government before it destroys us completely. It's burying us," she told Efe.

Many students also took part in the protest, like 19-year-old Bruno Oliveira, in his first year of college.

"I just realized that these policies affect me as well. We're not going hungry, but we suffer from these sacrifices and I now see the only solution will be to emigrate," he said.

Organizers around the country estimate that more than 1 million people took to the streets, while Portuguese television channels consider these to be the most massive demonstrations the country has ever known.

The protests, under the slogan "The people rule," was called largely over social networks, but also with posters and publicity in the streets of the principal cities of Portugal.

This week Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho repeated his determination to press on with the austerity policies imposed by the "troika" - the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, the lenders behind the nation's financial bailout.