In Portugal, thousands of farmers have been protesting against government economic and agricultural policies. A?
In Portugal, thousands of farmers have been protesting against government economic and agricultural policies. A big rally on Sunday (9 July) followed a number of recent demonstrations in major cities against rising living costs. Food prices have soared by more than 30 per cent in the last year alone.
SYNOPSIS: In this latest demonstration, nearly 3,000 farmers with tractors blocked the main north-south highway between Lisbon and Oporto. No incidents were reported and police did not interfere.
The Confederation of Portuguese Farmers (C.A.P) was demanding the resignation of socialist Agricultural Minister Dr. Luis Saias. The right-wing movement of mainly northern and central farmers has criticised him for the slowness of agricultural reforms. The reforms are partly aimed at returning to landowners some of the property seized after the April 1974 revolution. The farmers were joined in their call for Dr. Saias' replacement by the conservative Centre Democrats who are partners in Portugal's government. They have said they will press Prime Minister Mario Soares for him to be removed.
Farmers' chairman Jose Manuel Casqueiro told the demonstrators they could not remain indifferent to falling standards of living.
Mr. Casqueiro said Portugal was not on the way to joining the European Common Market, but to becoming a member of the third world. Mr. Soares said last month, during a visit to West Germany, that his country will begin formal negotiations before the end of the year on admission to the Common Market. The Common Market has maintained that Portugal must solve many of its economic problems before it can be considered for membership or aid.