Porto Santo Hotels, Ferry, Property etc. etc. ; São Gonçalo Spotlighted ; Communists Everywhere

(12th August). Today’s main front page story : ‘Searches Of Suitcases Destroy Luggage – Passengers coming from Venezuela complain that at the Airport of Maiquetia the suitcases searched were punctured with ‘ice picks’ that damaged the luggage. Travel Agents were yesterday in the Venezuelan consulate in Funchal to condemn the situation. The consul Félix Mendez Correa confirms the complaints and has already asked the ambassador in Lisbon to intercede’. The passengers from Venezuela, whether travelling with TAP or SB Airlines, are finding a nasty surprise when leaving Madeira Airport, with their property damaged with an ice pick. There is some half-cocked theory that this is done to detect drugs, though nobody is quite sure why it is happening. As the origin of the problem is in Venezuela I am not clear why the good people at the Diário thought this should be today’s top story, but to be fair there isn’t much else of excitement. Anyway having selected it, I think they lost an opportunity to sell more newspapers today with that limp headline. I think I would have gone with ‘Madmen run amuck in airport with ice picks’.

‘Crisis Affects The Property Sector On Porto Santo – The purchases and sales of homes and lands on Porto Santo fall to levels that many have never seen on the island’. Somehow I doubt that latter part of the headline is true for anyone out of infancy, but the only public notary on Porto Santo does reckon that everything was 20 to 30% overpriced anyway. The Jornal da Madeira covered exactly the same story on Sunday, so I decided to turn to that one instead (believe it or not!).

From the Jornal da Madeira (9th August) : ‘Property Market Is Stagnant – Pedro Leandro says that the Madeirans and continentals are still buying, but …’. Porto Santo is still feeling the effects of not just the economic crisis, but also the lack of international flights. Last year flights from London and Italy gave estate agents some hope, but since those were cancelled everything stagnated. Pedro Leandro, vice president of ACIPS and president of the board of the real estate sector, confirmed that the slowdown is general and Porto Santo is no exception to the rule. "Especially as much of the building investment that has been done in recent years – we are talking about houses – was done mainly by continental and Madeirans (builders’)". Residents are also feeling the pinch, with increased difficultly in accessing bank funds to buy, despite of interest rates falling to record low levels. They used to lend 100%, but now there are few who lend over 80% of the purchase price, and they want guarantees to protect themselves against what happened in the past. English buyers have disappeared now, thanks to the drop in the value of the Pound against the Euro, and some are now trying to disinvest. Construction of course has also slowed, with so little demand, and with the price of materials so expensive (with increased transport costs) "it really is expensive to build here" he adds. Talk about a turn around of fortunes, up to around two years ago it was the ‘in’ place to buy for foreigners, exotic and exclusive, but it’s a sad situation now with such a glut of unsold properties and nothing foreseeable that might remedy the situation, short term at least.

Porto Santo Hotels, Ferry, Property etc. etc. ; São Gonçalo Spotlighted ; Communists Everywhere 1 ‘São Gonçalo Doesn’t Seem A Community Of The Capital – Not even in the Diário series (Through Madeira) did one find a parish without a health centre, supermarket, and public conveniences. S. Gonçalo has a pharmacy, some grocery stores … and little more‘. Santa Maria Maior it turns out was not the weekly featured location in the Diário, it is in fact São Gonçalo in Funchal. In a parish that lacks almost everything, the list of aspirations of the people is very extensive and begins with the promised health centre. "This is of course the parish of Funchal where more things are lacking", the observation of Paulina Silva who works in the pharmacy. "It is easier for people to go to Funchal to live their lives" she adds, recalling that there is no supermarket, the biggest one nearby being in Cancela. When the only multibanco (ATM), situated in a restaurant, breaks down (as it often does) then one needs to travel, and there is not even a public garden for people to pass some time. It does have a crèche, and a day centre for old people, but still lacks the health centre promised for so long, that even has a site allocated. In the meantime if one is sick, they have to travel to the health centre in Bom Jesus. As for the public toilets, they used to exist but they "Closed the wc’s in the area and made into the headquarters of the scouts" says 64 year old housewife Margarida do Rosário. There is no police presence in São Gonçalo she says, though they do make patrols which does help, though the assaults are rising along with drug problems.

Today’s football headline : ‘Criticisms At Real Before Liechtenstein – Portugal plays tonight (7.30 pm) without Cristiano Ronaldo’. The Madeiran superstar was not released by his club, Real Madrid, because he has flu. The criticisms are about the way Real handled the matter. I don’t wish to be disrespectful to Liechtenstein, or upset it’s fine platoon of bin men, but I don’t think the absence of CR737 is really going to change the result, although the Portugal manager seems to think they are similar to Denmark … let’s hope they got on the right plane then.

During July the Portuguese Navy carried out 9 search and rescue missions around Madeira, and three support missions in the Parque Natural da Madeira.

‘Jardim Inaugurated The New Terminal Of The Port Of Porto Santo – The structure provides shelter before embarking’. The president of Madeira opened yesterday the ferry terminal which has a covered waiting and boarding area, and a ticket sales and administrative area, for passengers of the Porto Santo Line Ferry, the ‘Lobo Marinho’. BTW : The Porto Santo ferry is running behind schedule today due to an earlier fuel problem. Why has the news been taken over by Porto Santo so much in the last week? Is it ‘cos Uncle Bertie is off there very very soon for his freebie holidays?

Onto politics and the economy :

(12th August). The day’s top political story ‘PS Has The PSD Ex-President Of The Parish Council Of São Vicente As A Candidate’. Humberto Freitas was elected  president of the Junta de Freguesia in São Vicente in 1997 as a social democrat, but he has now changed his colours from orange to ?????, to stand for the socialists instead.

(11th August). ‘CDU Manages To Be In All The Parishes’. For the first time the coalition PCP/Verdes (Communists / Greens) are going to have candidates in all the local authorities on Madeira (câmara and parish levels). The CDU (also communists) will also have candidates in the 11 councils and 54 parishes. The effort requires an army of 800 candidates, more than half independents and people standing for the first time. The lists were delivered Monday in the various authorities around Madeira. A PCP spokesman stressed the importance of having "complete coverage of the coalition presence in the region", as in the rest of the country. The objective being to "end the promiscuity of the regional power in local government" to help end the "Jardim power". No doubt seeing the increase in the popularity of communism from the results of the European elections has encouraged the extra effort and the appearance of new candidates. 

(11th August). The final front page article from yesterday : ‘To Close Hotels On Porto Santo Costs €1 Million – When the prospects of closing hotels during the Winter is hanging in the air, the sums force one to think’. To close the hotels of Porto Santo during the Winter would cost a million Euros, in ‘lay off’ costs. The idea is not new, but unprecedented. It was first discussed in 2000, with the closures used to give staff holidays, training staff, and to undertake maintenance work. In the Azores it is done, with a state subsidy system that helps with 30% of the costs, and social security paying 70% of staff salaries. In the Greek, Italian and even Spanish Islands, there are schemes to ensure hotel workers are paid in low season. On Porto Santo, if the hotels were closed for 4 months from December to March, social security would have to pay out €1 million to workers, whilst businesses (or the government in the case of the Azores), would pay the remaining €433,000.

(8th August). ‘Banif Group Made €15.7 Million Profit In The First half Of 2008 – The result was positive but represents a fall of 64.6% compared to the same period in 2008’.

Porto Santo Hotels, Ferry, Property etc. etc. ; São Gonçalo Spotlighted ; Communists Everywhere 3 Tonight is the second of two nights for the ‘rain of meteors’, that happens this time every year. Last night was due to be cloudy so I didn’t mention it, but tonight should be better. The fireballs are actually dust particles (pea to tennis ball in size) from the comet Swift-Tutle burning up in the atmosphere. The event starts well before dark, and the moonlight may also interfere, but they should appear at an average of around one per minute. The article doesn’t mention where to look, so I asked the blog astronomy research team (thanks Alberto) to look into it and the answer is to look north, with the naked eye.

‘32% Of Children Born Are To Singles – The number of children born outside of marriage increases year after year’. That includes unmarried couples and single parents. Figures released by the National Statistics Institute (INE) show an increasing trend in recent years and throughout the country. On Madeira in 2000, the total number of live births outside marriage, were no more than 20%, when the birth rate was quite high. In eight years, the total number of children born has decreased, but grown 12% to single and unmarried parents. Also in Portugal and the Azores there has been an increase of children born outside marriage. In 2000 there were only 22.5% in Portugal and 13.1% on the Azores, in that same situation, but by last year that had increased to 36.6% and 26.4% respectively. This is one of those stories that does the rounds every few months, usually accompanied by a statement from a church spokesman saying that family values are disintegrating, but not this time.

I was just talking last week about the ex-president of the Câmara of Ponta do Sol, António Lobo, wondering where he was, and today there is an article saying he is being transferred to a prison in Sintra in Portugal. The reason is unknown. The former president was sentenced on 7 March 2007, in Ponta do Sol, to serve six years in prison for corruption and related crimes. He has another case still outstanding, again for corruption and fraud. Did I mention that he was/is a PSD-M politician?

Yet another Madeiran has been kidnapped in Venezuela. The 55 year old man from Serra d’Água was taken on Sunday.

Balloon Registers Record Of 3.88′. A 41 year old driver arrested in Santa Cruz on Sunday, registered a 3.88 blood-alcohol count when stopped by police, beating the previous record this year. I repeated this because I was chatting about this in town last night, and we reckoned the guy was dead and the police haven’t yet noticed. I have tried several blood alcohol simulators on the internet, including the one at www.rupissed.com, and have been unable to create the same level of alcohol in the blood.

In a national politics story : ‘PSD gives citizenship to grandchildren of emigrants – The leader of the ‘orange’ accused the government of having mistreated the PS Portuguese emigrants’. (If the PSD gets into power) It wants to widen the net of nationality to the grandchildren of emigrants, i.e. to the second generation. Manuela Ferreira Leite, PSD leader, says her party "has always given great importance throughout it’s history to emigrants, with a fundamental concern of keeping together all those who are Portuguese". Smacks of something strange, but not sure what … world domination perhaps?

The minister for health in the republic was talking to journalists about cases of people deliberately trying to spread the swine flu, Gripe A. She specifically referred to adults who, at the emergency services, refused to wear a protective mask, and mothers who said they would take their children to hospitals in the emergency departments to infect other people, since their children were already infected. She refused to name those responsible, saying it was not her role to do so, and the police could not arrest such people. Even without an official complaint, the Attorney General is considering the possibility of investigating the cases mentioned by the Health Minister, of persons who refuse to comply with the control measures for Gripe A, or express the intention to spread the disease. Spreading a disease is a crime in Portugal, and can be punished with a prison term from 1 to 8 years if it is deliberate, and by up to five years in the case of negligence.

2 thoughts on “Porto Santo Hotels, Ferry, Property etc. etc. ; São Gonçalo Spotlighted ; Communists Everywhere”

  1. Der, good morning..you wrote:

    “The passengers from Venezuela, whether travelling with TAP or SB Airlines, are finding a nasty surprise when leaving Madeira Airport, with their property damaged with an ice pick.”




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