Iraq: Day X – Portugal

The first day of the US led imperialist assault on Iraq has hugely increased the disgust and opposition from workers and youth against this war, against US imperialism and against the right wing Portuguese government that supports the war.


Day X. Portugal.

Protesters picket the US embassy

At 6pm, on Day X, a 1,000 strong picket assembled at the US Embassy gates in Lisbon. A very impressive, noisy and combative block of young people was the most determined part of this action. The media reports protests in Faro e Silves, Quarteira, Lagos, Portimão and Olhão, the cities of the Algarve, in the South of Portugal.

Alternativa Socialista, the CWI in Portugal, issued a statement against the war on Day X. We helped initiate an Anti-War Committee at the Social and Human Sciences Faculty, at Lisbon University.

Early in the morning of Day X one could hear everywhere people speaking out against this war and the role of Durão Barroso, the liberal prime-minister that received Bush, Blair and Aznar in Terceira island, Azores, in the infamous "warlords’ summit".

"This is all about oil," was the most frequent comment that one could hear. The powerful pro-imperialist lobby that joins the editorial writers of major newspapers, TV commentators and establishment politicians was unable to turn around this opinion, which has spread among workers, youth and some layers of the middle class.

The Partido Socialista, the Social Democrat Party, the Communist Party and the Left Block presented to the Assembleia da Republica (AR – the Parliament) censure motions against the government but, as the Right have a solid majority in AR, it was not a very effective action. Everyone, especially the PS, was expecting that the President, Jorge Sampaio, who is a Social Democrat, would strongly oppose war and block the USA using the Lages USA facilities during this war.

’The people’s will"

At end of the day, Sampaio did criticise the Bush and Blair attack on Iraq, on the grounds that the UN Security Council should have had the final decision on war. But "in the name of state unity", he did allow the use of "facilities" to "our allies" (namely the USA and the UK). As a worker commented, "Durão is Herod, but Sampaio is Pilate". Miguel Portas, a leader of the Left Bloc said, "This war must to be stopped on the streets, by mobilising the people to express the people’s will".

Alternativa Socialista has also worked to get a turnout for the protest on Friday 21 March, on the European Day of action against social regression that has been called by the European Trade Union Confederation and the Portuguese CGTP. Alternativa Socialista is also campaigning for the demonstration called by the World Social Forum in Lisbon.

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March 2003