Portugal's relationship with the pandemic has been a perfect illustration of the country we are.
In March, in the face of surprise and unpreparedness, we were fantastic at improvising. There was still no governmental position, but the Portuguese decided for themselves what to do. They removed the children from school, canceled meetings and parties, went to telework and prepared confinement. Companies reorganized processes and the country continued to function, within limitations.
The confinement was strict and the Portuguese “miracle” happened, because we all feel the same and in the same boat. At that time, a measure was taken that made me proud as a Portuguese: health support was guaranteed to any immigrant, even if illegal, and facilitated the stay in the country.
Overall, we were better than average, which created fertile ground for populism in Parliament, São Bento and Belém.
But the so-called “miracle” only happened because we were on the ground where we are strong - the short term. After almost a year, the country's structural weakness came to the fore. The precariousness of employment created more inequalities and exclusion, the most disadvantaged were not defended, not enough resources were created in health to respond to a crisis that was foreseeable this time and communication has been mediocre.
As usual, politics overrides pragmatism and citizen interest. The Portuguese no longer all feel the same and are suspicious of their leaders.
The long term, which requires strategy, planning, method, rationality, equity and clear language, has already put us in the place of custom - much worse than average. The country showed its poverty, as well as its social, political and institutional limitations.