Christmas traditions : Presepios ; 3 hospitalised with Malaria ; Storm aftermath extensive

Today’s photo – Many thanks to Eiryl … Street artist in Funchal

madeira news blog 0912 eiryl Street artist Funchal

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Elaine (East) managed to catch up on the Christmas traditions series that was running in the Jornal da Madeira in the run up to Xmas, so here is another. Many thanks

Councils in Festa. All municipalities in the region have prepared for this festive season. In Funchal, as just about everywhere, the Council marks this time of celebration. From Câmara de Lobos to Santa Cruz, passing through the other municipalities on the south and the north coast, there are plenty of illuminations and presépios to announce the birth of Jesus. In Câmara de Lobos, on the Avenida Nova Cidade, a presépio, almost full scale, represents the birth, surrounded by a very characteristic flower at this time, precisely, the manhas de Pascoa. The city centre also has some illuminations, as well as in other small housing areas. In Ribeira Brava, in the gardens of the town hall, a presépio has been a special attraction. Again, the illuminations which are characteristic of this season dominate, in particular in the centre of this locality, and also in the area by the sea. Later in Ponta do Sol, we found that several bright ornaments were placed in the county seat, with themes related to Christmas. The presépio was also being prepared, next to the municipal building. The county further west of the region is also alluding to this season. A presépio, and a pine tree topped with a star, are some of the outstanding features. Beginning on the north coast, at Porto Moniz, various illuminations and a presépio next to the natural pool announce this festive period. This is also the case in São Vicente, where the streets have a new colour, with various arrangements of illuminations depicting Christmas and a small presépio next to the church, marking the festival. In Santana, in front of the town hall, was being prepared a presépio, and in the centre of town, the lamps announce a special period. Back on the south coast, the illuminations and the usual Christmas presépio by the municipality are some of the outstanding features. The same happened in Santa Cruz, where the birth of the Boy Jesus was also represented next to the church.

Many thanks to Elaine once again for yesterday’s top news stories :

Rain and strong wind until Wednesday. Rain and strong wind forecasted until the early morning of Wednesday. The Regional Civil Protection recommend caution, especially with the risk of flooding, landslides and mudslides. Delays and cancellations at the airport this morning but conditions improved later on in the day. The Porto Santo ferry did not sail this morning. Good weather expected for the end of the year fireworks display. The worst region affected in Portugal has been Torres Vedras, in the West region, with an estimated 53 million Euros of damage. This is an agricultural region with major damage to horticultural greenhouses, forestry, agricultural land, municipal facilities and infrastructure, hotels, businesses and homes.

Three hospitalized with malaria. The three who were on Christmas vacation in Madeira, after working in Equatorial Guinea, have been admitted to the hospitals in Funchal, two in Marmeleiros Hospital and the other one is in Intensive Care in Dr. Nelio Mendonca Hospital. There might be another case, a Brazilian, whose health is worsening but the screening test is expensive. They were initially diagnosed as having influenza, when they presented with symptoms to a Health Centre at the beginning of the month. Before departing to Guinea, they were advised by the staff at the Bom Jesus Health Centre to stay in Africa if they developed symptoms – fever, headaches and nausea. The Clinical Director at the Dr. Nelio Mendonca Hospital said that medicines have been ordered for the three men. He has asked the doctors to be more aware of the symptoms of malaria as a lot of men are working in Guinea on construction contracts.

PJ clueless about the whereabouts of Martins. He is wanted for the kidnap (half a million Euros ransom was demanded) and murder of Guilherme Alves, who was a businessman in Porto Santo, and found dead in a water tank in Camacha on 17 July 2009. José Gabriel Libano Martins is on an international arrest warrant with an extradition request from Portugal. He is thought to have fled to Brazil, where he is supposed to be married to a local woman, giving him nationality status. Three other suspects have been arrested. The case has a time limit for investigation of a year which can be extended for a complex case. The police will not give details of progress, even to the family. There is a case to be heard in the Court of Porto Santo, on February 4 2010, where Jose Martins as the plaintiff, has mounted civil action against a married couple for civil construction negotiations. The other case, on 2 February 2010, where he is the accused, the MP has brought a case against the construction company Erucasa.

Ponta do Sol population buy bottled water. As a result of flooding in the area of Rabacas, the pipeline was damaged, and in Ponta do Sol and parts of Ribeira Brava, the water has been unsafe to drink since December 24. Despite two tankers of water in the area, the locals have brought bottled water and used home reservoirs and local springs. The Regional Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources estimates the supply will be restored by the middle of the week.

Car hit by stones in Encumeada. A landslide on Christmas Day caused damage to the windscreen and bodywork of a car whilst travelling in Encumeada. The woman and four year old in the car went into shock and had minor injuries which were attended to at the Health Centre at Câmara de Lobos.

Two families resettled in Sao Vicente. Ribeira Grande was hardest hit by the storm, 50 people affected and two families resettled in the Hotel Praia Mar in São Vicente. The local population had previously alerted the authorities to work on a road in the Laurissilva Forest, in which earth was deposited in two water courses near Corgo do Atalho and Ribeira Grande. They had also complained to the authorities that trees in Rosario needed cutting to prevent obstructing the flow of water. They were told a permit was required, and although promises were made during the election campaign, no action was taken afterwards. (11 photos on the Diário website).


Three now homeless in Monte. Three people in Tilas in Monte had to leave their dwelling due to rain causing the collapse of a retaining wall. The back garden has already ‘disappeared’. This occurred at 7.30 this morning and they will spend the night at the Pensão of the PSP.

Anonymous donor enables boy’s funeral. The son of Madeiran immigrants in Jersey who was killed in an accident with a firearm on 13 December, while visiting family members in Venezuela, was buried yesterday in Caniçal Municipal Cemetery. The funeral was finally accomplished thanks to a donation of 17,000 Euros (15,000 pounds sterling) by a person who requested anonymity. João Calaca Sousa, aged 8 years, died as a result of firing a gun he found while playing with a cousin, hours after he arrived in Caracas to visit his uncle. The family, from Caniçal, could not afford to pay for the transport of the body to Madeira. The Jersey community, particularly colleagues of the child’s father who is employed by a rent-a-car firm, after the case was highlighted by the local media, launched a campaign to raise funds and the final sum was achieved after an anonymous donation.

Assault suspects deny the PSP version. Two of the three men arrested by Funchal policemen on the night of 21 – 22 December, allegedly about to commit a robbery, refuted the allegations. Paulo Pina and Paulo Nunes, aged 40 and 39 years respectively, said they were at a warehouse in Boa Nova, guided by a third person, to buy dog food which was sold below market price. "The salesperson entered by the building’s front door and being in possession of the controller that opened the door of the store, told us where to go and we had not suspected that something was wrong." Paulo Pina drove his truck into the garage and after he began carrying bags of dog food, a fourth person came in shouting, "Thieves, thieves." The defendants said at least one shot was aimed in the direction of the salesperson, who fled through the interior of the garage. They were panicking and stayed where they were, when the fourth man returned, instructing them to lie on the floor. Paulo Pina, a former soldier, grabbed the wrist of the man who was pointing the gun at them and with the help of his colleague, was able to overpower him and take the gun. They repeated to him that they were not thieves and he fled, out through the front door, as had the salesman. They also left, with the truck remaining inside the garage. They started to go to the Police Station in Funchal to report the matter when they met a patrol car on the Estrada Conde Carvalhal, and flagged it down and reported the incident. The police removed the gun, handcuffed them and took them to Funchal Police Station. The man who was the owner of the gun arrived later and claimed the gun belonged to Paulo Pina who was asked to sign a form to verify that. The police are looking for the salesperson. The military cap in the photo printed by the press was from the truck in the garage. The Diário reporter could not get an official comment over the phone from the Regional Command of the Police.

Hotel occupancy 70% in the last 4 days of the year and 19,000 tourists expected to arrive through the airport.  In the last four days of the year, there are 137 flights scheduled to arrive with 22,000 seats and at this time of year, the load factor is usually 85%. Assuming the visitors stay for 3 – 4 nights, the occupancy rate of the 28,000 hotel beds will be as low as 70%. The actual rate will probably be lower as many have only booked for 2 – 3 nights and not everyone will require hotel accommodation. Despite this, many hotels have sold out for New Year’s Eve, for example the Pestana group of hotels on the island. There are also similar high occupancy levels in some areas of Portugal, especially the Algarve and in Porto. In comparison, the Tourism Secretary is optimistically expecting a 90% occupancy rate in Madeira.

2010 commences with new Coral beer campaign. 27 December – 3 January, the manufacturers, ECM, are having a publicity campaign. With 133 medals from the Monde Selection, (79 gold, 32 grand gold), the Coral Branca has 19 medals. The latter will be marketed as light, refreshing and enjoyable. Coral will be back marking its presence at the best parties on the island, details of the beers on their site cervejacoralJudging by the website, the white is the low alcohol version.

Manuel Antonio Correia rejects criticism. The Regional Secretary for the Environment and Natural Resources responded to the MPT (Earth Party) leader, Isidora, accusations that the Government is not alleviating storm damage in Ponta do Sol. He said the Government’s actions could not be publicized as the media offices were closed over the Christmas period. The Government, Ponta do Sol Council and the IGA have worked long hours during the 23, 24 and 26 December. Isidora also unfairly criticized Santos Costa, who had been to the area on the 23 and 24 December. The Government also paid attention to areas in Santana, São Vicente, Ribeira Brava and Machico. "I want to assure the public that everything that was humanly and technically possible to lessen the damage was done." The mayor, Rui Marques, also agreed with Manuel António. The Council had two employees working on Christmas Day to ensure that residents had access to a water supply.

Almada back with protest. Roberto Almada of the Left Bloc (BE) accuses the Regional and Local Governments of allowing materials to build up in waterways, leading to their narrowing, despite warnings from opposition politicians and environmentalists. This was particularly evident in São Vicente. When Parliament returns next week, he will lead a protest vote that the Government has behaved irresponsibly.

Gouveia wants National aid for São Vicente. The PS leader and councillor at Sao Vicente said that the area needs millions of Euros in aid due to extensive storm damage. He believes that the Parish Council, County Council and the Regional Government cannot meet the bill, so they will have to go to the National Government and the EU for funds. In Rosario, the damage is particularly bad with houses destroyed, municipal roads blocked and damaged, and farm land under water. He wants Alberto Jardim and José Sócrates to act. Unlike the CDS leader, he does not criticize the governments and authorities for damage in Ribeira de São Vicente since, "there will be other storms that will flood the town again."

Rodrigues attacks Jardim and confronts Sócrates. Yesterday, it was reported that he would write to Sócrates, expecting financial aid to tackle regional storm damage, as has been given to the Azores, and he is also writing a critical letter to Jardim. The CDS leader, José Manuel Rodrigues, starts his letter with the sentences, ‘We are deeply surprised and concerned to note the silence and alienation of the Government. There has been considerable damage to roads and agriculture, networks of water supply were affected; private companies had heavy losses, many farmers saw their crops lost and some land disappeared, some families lost their homes, many Madeirans did not have Christmas. When we expect a reaction from the Government to this reality, we are witnessing a silence and alienation unacceptable.’ There were no Government officials contacting people and comforting families. He was surprised that Jardim had not convened the Council of Government in order to take concrete measures. He agreed with most opposition politicians that the Government was responsible for damage in recent days by the poor construction of certain public works and the disposal of earth in the waterways. He suggests three specific measures: to survey the damage to companies and individuals and ensure support as stipulated in the budget; use national funds and evaluate the possibility of European funds.

Demand goes up 435%, supply only 20%.  A report from a PhD thesis about cruise ship movement at the Port of Funchal over the past 50 years. Ships are 3 times larger, the number of calls increased by 94% with 4 times more tourists but the port capacity has increased by only 20%. Lots of facts and figures and helpful charts for anyone specially interested.

Culture news. No municipalities have applied for the title, ‘City of Culture 2010’, the first time since its conception in 2007 by the Regional Government. It was created to decentralize culture, preserve the identity of people, help local economic development and make culture accessible to all. This year the title was held by Câmara de Lobos where the most notable event was the opening of the new Municipal Library. The Government contributes financially to the project but not enough to make it attractive in the present economic situation. An unusual headline, ‘Carlos Costa receives death threats.’ This young Madeiran singer is the winner of the talent competition, Idols. The threats were made through the phone and began in December but ended when the producer decided to bug the phone to listen in.

Today’s news headlines from the front page of the Diário de Notícias :

* Gripe A : Two more dead and a woman at risk – With the diagnosis of H1N1 Swine Flu, the woman gave birth and now is in a serious condition due to an eclampsia. Eclampsia (Greek, "shining forth"), an acute and life-threatening complication of pregnancy, is characterized by the appearance of tonic-clonic seizures, usually in a patient who had developed preeclampsia. (Preeclampsia and eclampsia are collectively called Hypertensive disorder of pregnancy and toxemia of pregnancy). Two men aged 37 and 47 died from the infection in the last week, both suffered with obesity.  That takes the death toll on Madeira to 5, and the overall number infected since the start to 676. Last week there were 143 suspected swine Flu cases, with 75 confirmed, 46 of which were women. 4,000 new ‘Pandremix’ vaccines are due to be received by tomorrow, 2,000 more than were originally expected. The next at risk group to be treated are children up to the age of 12.

Tickets and bus passes increase in 2010 – The rise hits urban and interurban buses. Urban prices will rise 1.19% and interurban 1.85%. A ticket that now costs €1.55 will rise to €1.57, so lot’s of fiddly change to mess around with.

* City ‘Volta’ without rain or shine – Rui Pedro Silva and Fernanda Ribeiro win the race spoiled by TAP and SATA.  Silva won the 51st ‘São Silvestre’ race in Funchal on his first attempt, despite intense rain, and despite having run and won the Marathon in Porto the previous day. Ribeiro won the female version for the fourth time.

Today’s main news headline : Guarantees from the Regional Government nailed to the ceiling – Many of those who received guarantees from the Madeira government failed to get paid on time, reveals the Court of Auditors. Who is  coming in with €5 million is the government. That is, the taxpayer.

It’s a toss up to define which is the main headline picture today, but I will go for another storm damage one over the winner of the São Silvestre  race. The landslide shown completely blocks a road, and seems to contain bits of a building : Storm leaves families even poorer – Damages in São Vicente. Families homeless in Monte and cut-off in Serra de Água. In Ponta do Sol 5 thousand continue without water. There is support, but only for agriculture. The picture is the same one as above, with the story from Elaine.

I think that’s the gloomiest front page I have ever seen in my years on Madeira, with death, disease, homelessness, ravaged lands and homes, contaminated water, government defaulting on supplier payments, public transport costs rising, and the airlines a-soiling. It’s normally around now that the press look back on the year, and summarise the good and bad highlights, but today’s front page seems to have captured it all except for the financial crisis and unemployment, and we can’t forget those manipulated national and local elections of course. What’s your highlight (or lowlight) of 2009?

One bit of better news though is that the weather forecast for tomorrow night is looking much brighter in Funchal, ready for the big night. The forecast for the passing of the year is to be without any rain, and little more than a breeze, just in Funchal. Elsewhere the rain will continue to fall, the wind will be strong, and there is the possibility of snow on the highest peaks.

If anyone else can oblige with the translation of any of the ‘blank’ or sparsely filled headlines, or other news stories, here is the link. All contributions much appreciated. 

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4 thoughts on “Christmas traditions : Presepios ; 3 hospitalised with Malaria ; Storm aftermath extensive”

  1. by email :

    Dear Der, We have enjoyed your website for some time now.
    We have an apartment near Maes de Deus, Canico, and have had big problems in the last week with roof tiles removed by the gales and lots of water gathering in the roof and now running down our walls/lights. When we visited our condominium yesterday, the manager mentioned that other blocks of flats had been similarly affected and he said a gentleman by the name of Derek in flats near the church, had had similar problems. With many thanks for managing to keep the website going. Best wishes for a drier New Year. from John and Jan

    No definately not me, I don’t use that name (or even answer to it), but who knows he might be another reader? Der


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