aka The Pingo Doce riots. Pingo Doce is a chain of stores in Portugal with some 300 to 350 locations.
It was May 1st and while May Day is not a big holiday in the US, for many around the world – especially socialists – it is an extremely important day. In Portugal – it was also a banking and work holiday. This is the day that Pingo Doce had a big sale – spend 100€ and get half off your food bill.
I knew none of this, when I ducked out of the very prestigious East West Security Conference to get some items for my hotel room — a bit of fruit and some soda for a start (5€ for a soda at the hotel is just too much for me). I walked around the corner from the hotel and ran smack into a mêlée. Trollies ramming pregnant women pushing prams, people being shoved and smacked and elbowed – total mayhem – I had to go inside and see what was causing all of this fun.
I learned there was a special promotion for that day and that day only. Spend more than 100€ and get 50% of the food bill. It appeared the locals came out in force willing to spend a few € and get a deal – they were going after food items especially canned goods – and when the shelf was down to just a few cans left – that’ s when the smacking and shoving erupted. It reminded me of the scenes in the US at Wal-Mart or Toys-R-Us at Christmas time – with parents full of the holiday spirit fighting over computer games or Barbie dolls. It seems things are bad – very bad in Portugal. The food sale was a chance for many to stretch their € for food and stock up. The thin veneer of civility had come off the populace at the Pingo Doce sale.
It was big news on the tele and big news in the papers, as what I saw at one store was being repeated at almost every store in the country.
The reactions of the government was typical nonsense – they (the government) were going to look to see if the Pingo Doce violated any anti dumping laws, and a in-depth investigation into health and safety was not doubt going to be conducted. It was an asinine reaction to what appears to be a harbinger of the future.
What I saw was people fighting – not over computer games or dolls, but food. The Portuguese were buying fresh staples and canned food to survive. This may have been nothing more than a poorly disguised food riot in a European Nation .
Remember Pingo Doce as an “indicator”. I think we will see more of this in Europe over the coming weeks and months – I also pray that I am wrong.
This may be an odd topic for this section other than social conditions are so important when considering OPSEC matters.