Today is a day of gathering of former combatants in Porto. They demand to be received by Minister Nuno Melo

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A gathering of former combatants is taking place in Porto today, called by the Movement for the Dignity of the Combatants’ Statute, which wants to be heard by the new Minister of Defense, Nuno Melo. A series of sit-ins are planned for the coming days, challenging the statute which they classify as “a handful of nothing”.

Among the demands is the free use of transport, already provided for in the statute for metropolitan areas and intermunicipal communities, extended to the whole country, as well as a monthly supplement of 100 euros to help pay for medicines.

Today’s rally is scheduled to take place near the Statue of the Unknown Soldier in Carlos Alberto Square.

“For 50 years, various benefits have practically been promised and what happens is that when the Former Combatant’s Statute was approved in 2020, only a handful of nothing was approved,” António Araújo da Silva, leader of the Pro-Dignity Movement for the Combatant’s Statute, told Lusa.

The movement wants to be received “as urgently as possible” by the Minister of National Defense, Nuno Melo, and wants to raise awareness of the “revolt” of these former combatants.

“At over 70, as you must understand, we are burdened with serious health problems. If we hadn’t gone to war, we wouldn’t have a reason. Many of my comrades came from there with serious health problems and they’re here and who’s going to pay for their medication?” asked António Araújo da Silva.

The movement argues that former combatants don’t have access to the psychological support they need through the Armed Forces Hospital and calls for better assistance for the widows of these ex-servicemen, who have also suffered from “the traumas” that their husbands brought back from the colonial war (1961-1974). They also complain that many citizens have not yet received the Former Combatant’s Card, which guarantees access to their benefits.

The leader also lamented the situation of former combatants recruited in the former colonies, citizens of countries such as Angola, Mozambique or Guinea-Bissau, who fought in the Portuguese Armed Forces but are not covered by some compensations because they don’t have records of their contributory career in Portugal.

After today’s sit-in, another is scheduled for Monday 15th in front of the Ministry of National Defense in Lisbon, and on the 16th on the steps of the Assembly of the Republic.

Another sit-in is scheduled for the 17th, as well as the start of a hunger strike, which the leader predicts will be attended by “more than a hundred former combatants”.

The movement also guarantees that it will organize demonstrations across the country on April 25, the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution.

The Statute of the Former Combatant, a long-standing demand of associations in the defense sector and the disabled of the Armed Forces, was approved in 2020 by a large majority of PS, PSD, BE, CDS-PP, PAN, Chega and Iniciativa Liberal and the abstention of PCP and PEV.

The diploma includes benefits such as exemption from user fees, free intermodal passes on public transport in metropolitan areas and intermunicipal communities, preferential access to social housing, free entry to museums and funeral honors, among other benefits.

When he promulgated the Statute, the President of the Republic, Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, said he hoped it would be seen “as the start of a journey and not the end of it”.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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