TODAY’S PHOTO : Thanks to Eiryl … flower displays in central Funchal.
Front Page News : source : Diário de Notícias 30/8/2008
The Spanish Anticorruption ‘Bureau’ has asked its counterpart in Portugal for collaboration in investigating the presence and actions of the Russian Mafia operating here on Madeira, and suspected of stripping profits and / or laundering money in the ‘Zona Franca’, the tax protected business community. The Tambovskaya branch of the Mafia makes it’s money from a network of criminals in Russia, and last June in Spain 20 members of the gang were arrested in Spain and charged with numerous offences including money-laundering, murder, extortion, drug dealing, illicit association, falsification of documents and tax fraud.
Animal cruelty, or even murder, makes the headlines for the second time in a week. This time it happened in Câmara de Lobos where a dog barking in the street was found to have been soaked with sulphuric acid. The police and SPAD were called to try and help the poor animal, but the vet had to put him down. In a second horror story in Ribeiro Serrão, in Camacha, the story is about a woman who is said to have poisoned animals including roosters and pigs, and beheaded a dog. The woman has been charged with several offences, but is still on the loose awaiting sentence. Utterly disgraceful! I had a look at the Diário’s on-line debate on the matter of animal cruelty yesterday, and there were 6 pages of letters published, and I think some of the authors must have been on the verge of tears. Thanks to the Diário for publishing my letter on the subject, and especially for the grammatical corrections that I am sure my letter desperately needed.
For a small island of just over 40 square kilometres you would think that planning permission would be as rare as hens teeth when it comes to major developments, but it appears not. The Câmara (Council) of Porto Santo has granted planning permission for a 221 apartment 5 star tourist village to the Pestana Group (coincidentally the same group recently accused by the man known as ‘Rabbit’ of passing large sums of money in brown envelopes). Costing €35 million, the village is the second phase of the 5 star hotel project by the same group. All in all the development will consume 63,000 square meters.
Other news :
The president of the council of Porto Santo Island wants to increase the resident population from the current 5,000 up to 9,000 in order to support the islands touristic ambitions. Confidently he says “we will have these three to four thousand people in the next 10 years”. There are certainly plenty of empty unsold properties there to help house them, but somehow I expect they will be beyond the budget of a person employed in tourism. I am looking forward to Monday when Porto Santo’s tourist season ends … they are hogging far to much space in the news there last few months.
Whinge of the week :
Anyone watching the national news on TV over the last few weeks won’t have missed the wave of violent crime that has hit mainland Portugal. It seems that the first two or three stories every day are about armed bank robberies, post office and jewellery shop raids, caches of arms found, drug problems, and more recently carjacking. It is hard to get it in context though, as it seems that everything nationwide gets reported and makes headline news.
The government seems to have been badly prepared, but are looking to be taking prompt measures to deal with the problem. It seems that penalties for those prosecuted will not change, but other steps being considered are ‘preventative prisons’, changes to the gun laws, and setting up a new division within the the PSP (Public Security Police) to specialise in violent crimes of this nature. Probably the proposed micro-chipping of vehicles also falls in here somewhere, but I don’t think that the government would admit to that.
I left a country that experiences such problems every day on a far greater scale to come to Madeira, and in fact the stories we are hearing so much about recently wouldn’t even make most newspapers, let alone the front page, so I shouldn’t be so concerned I suppose. I knew that one day Portugal would suffer the same fate as it’s more criminally advanced neighbours, hoping that it wouldn’t be in my lifetime, but it is certainly advancing at a pace I didn’t expect … lets just hope that this most unpleasant aspect of life takes a long long time to manifest itself to the same levels on Madeira, and let’s hope that the government here are proactive and prepared for such crimes and don’t wait until it is too late.
The drug problem is usually the route to a crime wave, and combined with a struggling economy, the signs are not good. The government here needs to tackle poverty and drugs as an absolute priority and with a 100% commitment, but I don’t hold out much hope of the PSD changing their policy of spin and headline grabbing. As far as drugs go, this is a small island, so surely to control the situation cannot be so tough and costly to combat in these days of high technology. We don’t even need a prison here for violent criminals and drug dealers … we have Cabo Girão, and we have sharks … nature’s perfect executioners.
Cracking game of footie last night as Porto went to Benfica for a 1-1 draw. I can’t imagine anyone but Porto winning the Portuguese league again this year.
Anyone know if you can buy a wireless TV transmitter here, and if it will work with the power box from CaboTV? It’s one of those gadgets that plugs into the CaboTV signal, and boosts broadcasts the signal throughout the house so you can have other TVs in other rooms without a load of cable involved. Thanks.
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