With unemployment reaching 26% in some countries, thus surpassing that of the U.S. during the Great Depression of 25%, Europe has experienced one of its biggest social and economic crisis.
In Portugal, rising taxes and plummeting wages, staggering unemployment and a spiraling economic depression, has put access to food by growing sections of the population at jeopardy.
In 2011 Portugal became the third european country to seek an international bailout fund. The years to follow brought the implementation of foreign creditors' demands for severe austerity policies spearheaded, within the European Union, by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Populations in Portugal and Europe now face increasingly aggressive policies under foreign creditors' demand for an economy reframe that prescribes a downgrading of most social and labor rights conquered in the last century, to make room for private enterprise in detriment public property and resources.
The result was been staggering unemployment, salary, jobs and pension cuts, rising taxes, plummeting wages, economic depression, loss of sovereignty, unprecedented poverty.
The spiraling economic depression that followed made access to work and food by growing sections of the population is at jeopardy and emigration levels became only comparable to those during Oliveira Salazar's fascist dictatorship years that ended in the 70’.
Less than 50 years later, this is the Portugal of Angela Merkel and her ideological deputies in charge of Portugal.
Laws, packages and austerity measures were passed despite overwhelming popular and parliament rejection, labor was devalued and basic public services were privatized to meet the demands of foreign creditors, among which, Germany became its most inflexible proponent.
Access to once public basic services, supposedly insured by taxpayers, was significantly decreased.
The growing number of food banks and charities in Europe became a barometer of how crippled the economy was and how governments and public services failed taxpayers and society as a whole. Being this an emergency situation and charities a necessary way to cope with it in the short term, this raises deeper questions in the long run. Should private enterprise, interest lobbies and charities substitute people's democratic right to access fair job opportunities, dignified wages and basic public services in principle, already paid for by taxpayers.
The following series of images and stories collected between 2012 and 2013 is an attempt to compose a more detailed picture of one the most difficult periods for the Portuguese population since the country emerged from its dictatorship in 1974.