International Herald Tribune
February 15, 2013
LISBON — “We’re sick of hearing about the crisis, but we do like talking politics,” said Vincent, a 25-year-old Portuguese marketing student, as he, his friends Vincent and Diogo, and I gathered in a café in the upscale Lisbon neighborhood of Restelo to play cards.
The name of the game was “Vem Aí A Troika,” or “Here Comes the Troika.” It’s a card game with a darkly comic message about the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, and their hand in Portugal’s economic crisis.
When it came out in November, its creators, one of whom is a former university math professor, promised: “Now you, too, can bring the country to ruin.” Taking those words to heart, on Wednesday afternoon we decided to sidle up to the crisis with satire.
Poverty has spiked in Portugal, occasioned by a rise in the cost of living and steady drops in wages as well as dwindling employment. Vigorous protests last fall forced the conservative government to beat an uncharacteristic retreat from further increasing taxes on the middle class.