Hundreds of protesters marched through one of Lisbon’s main avenues yesterday shouting “Portugal is not racist”, in a demonstration organised by the far-right leader of the Chega (Enough) party Andre Ventura, a former soccer commentator, but also known for his derogatory remarks.
In October 2019, Ventura won the far right’s first seat in parliament since Portugal’s dictatorship ended in 1974.
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“Today will be history because after 40 years the right decided to go out on the streets,” Ventura, who has been involved in several controversies since the election, told a crowd of supporters.
Luckily, there were no reports of violence nor arrests.
Recently in January, Ventura called for a Black fellow MP with dual Portuguese-Guinean citizenship to be “returned to her own country” after she proposed items in Portuguese museums to be sent back to their countries of origin.
Only a month later, Ventura questioned whether Porto striker Moussa Marega, who quit a soccer match in protest after being subjected to monkey chants and other insults, was a victim of racism.
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Certainly, yesterday’s protests took place at a time when Portuguese authorities are doing their best to prevent a new wave of coronavirus cases across Lisbon’s suburbs, and due to a pandemic possible new wave, authorities have been forced to reintroduce certain lockdown measures.
“We are outdoors, we know the virus dies under a certain temperature, we are social distancing, we have masks and I believe we are complying with all rules,” said Chega supporter Joao Rodrigues.
The march came around three weeks after thousands of people gathered in Lisbon and other Portuguese cities in protest against racism and alleged police brutality.
Among the crowd of right-wingers, a 27-year-old man stood alone and waved a rainbow LGBT+ pride flag in protest.
“Someone has to show that this ideology in 2020 is wrong,” Joao Pedro said.
Portugal's far-right party Chega leader Andre Ventura gives a speech during Portugal's far-right Chega party protest against those who say racism exists in the country, in downtown Lisbon, Portugal. Image credit Reuters, Rafael Marchante