quarta-feira, 30 de março de 2011

The Jornal vs the Diário

The regional  parliament’s  commission of enquiry on the press, instituted by the local PSD and comprised of PSD MPs came to the conclusion that the Diário wants to close the Jornal da Madeira. What a joke!
For many years President Jardim has ranted and raged against the Diário saying it is the main opposition on the island and that without the Diário no opposition would exist.
For over a decade, he has been promising and threatening to expropriate the Diário and to do so in such a way as to cause the greatest financial damage to its owners. He also threatened that the scope of Government measures taken to harm the interests of the DN owners would reach beyond the Diário newspaper itself and affect other areas.
In his official speeches, in the fashion of a true dictator, President Jardim has repeatedly urged businessmen to boycott advertising in the Diário. He once even burned a copy of the Diário in public.
Eventually, seeing that expropriating the Diário newspaper, the only real rival of the Jornal, would cause too great a scandal, Jardim announced that he would adopt more refined methods and that there was going to be a ‘cleansing’ among the ranks of the Diário newspapers.
His solution was to pump enormous sums into the Jornal, turn it into a freebie newspaper and undercut the advertising market by price dumping, all in order to cut the Diário’s source of revenue, force job cuts among the journalists and eventually bankrupt the newspaper.
Not unexpectedly, the national parliament’s commission of enquiry, whose report records all these facts, concluded the opposite to the regional parliamentary commission. i.e. The Regional Government is trying and succeeding to scupper the independent press in Madeira.
Jardim and the PSD labeled the conclusion a 'colonial' interference in Madeira’s internal affairs.

terça-feira, 29 de março de 2011

President Cavaco, his cousin the Bishop and the Jornal

The Jornal violates the Constitution, which stipulates that news organs must be impartial and independent from state powers. It appears, however, that no laws exist in Portugal to enforce the Constitution and that the existing state entities are either powerless to do so or have no will to do so.
Faced with decades of this abuse on behalf of the Jornal and the Regional Government, the Socialist Party passed a law to prohibit state entities from owning newspapers. President Cavaco, in his last mandate, twice vetoed this law, enabling Jardim to carry on with the Jornal as his propaganda newspaper.
Curiously, the Jornal is nominally guided by the Church. According to the company’s statute, it is up to the Bishop to appoint the editor-in-chief and to ensure the paper abides by its editorial statutes.
 The Bishop of Funchal is none other than Cavaco’s cousin Dom Carrilho Cavaco, who says he refuses to interfere on the editorial line, since the Church is a minor shareholder, leaving, by implication, the task to the major shareholder - Jardim’s government.
No surprise then, that Cavaco’s recent candidature for the Presidency was given extra-favorable coverage in the Jornal and that all the political opinion pieces lauded Cavaco and trashed the rival candidates.

Fraud at the Jornal

In 2008, the Jornal was for six months a free newspaper, that is, it had no cover price. During this time, it continually broke the law by publishing municipal adverts (that by law could only be placed in paid newspapers) and receiving the respective revenue. In mid 2008, it adopted a fake cover price to skirt the law and continue to receive this revenue.
Both the National Audit Office (Tribunal de Contas) and the State Press Regulatory Entity (ERC) have noted the irregularity of this blatant scam. The Public Prosecutor’s Office was alerted to this scheme in September of 2009, but has merely sat on the facts. Apparently, it is too busy investigating and prosecuting those who denounce such schemes and criticize the Regional Government.

Jornal da Madeira – The President’s Newspaper

The Jornal da Madeira is a daily newspaper owned by the Government and maintained in the market through Government funding. It is bankrupt and owes the taxpayer over 40 million Euro, but the Government continues to pour in 4 million a year to keep it going.
The Jornal is essentially a PSD propaganda paper, which is distributed free despite having a fake cover price of 10 cents. The Jornal only publishes political opinion pieces by the President’s closest collaborators. Jardim himself writes two full pages per week and other columnists write three or four days in a row. It is common for them to publish up to four opinion pieces, all by PSD militants.

Freedom of Speech 2

President Jardim uses the Justice system to silence freedom of speech. Lawyers and legal fees are paid by the Government and compensations are asked for Jardim and his henchmen. It’s a good racket. They have no expenses and pocket the compensations themselves.
Jardim regularly issues threats of taking people to court merely to silence dissent. At a party meeting prior to the 2000 elections, for instance, he ordered Government departments to take his political adversaries to Court at the minimum provocation: ‘I have instructed all Government Departments that they should immediately institute criminal proceedings at the merest hint of slander’.
Following the disaster of the 20th of February 2010, he again urged Government departments to sue the ‘vultures’ who criticized the Government.
He himself regularly issues such threats directly, some of which have no leg to stand on and are not followed through. In any case, the Madeira Courts are filled the proceedings of Jardim and his henchmen.
Recently, a court judged in favor of the Garajau satirical newspaper in a case where the newspaper argued the Vice-President was using Government funding to criminally sue the paper for publishing facts that had nothing to do with his position or the Government. It was a blatant case of misuse of public funding to harass a newspaper. The ruling was overturned at lightning speed by the higher court in Lisbon. The Vice-Presidency’s handpicked lawyer was the leader of the Maoist MRPP Party, Garcia Pereira. The case has now been taken to the European Court of Human Rights.

segunda-feira, 28 de março de 2011

Freedom of Speech 1

Letter by Martins Junior, former Mayor of Machico and MP, published in DN.
I followed with much interest and curiosity the trial in which the plaintiff was the president of the regional government. Five long months of work for magistrates, witnesses, lawyers, court officials and above all for the accused: the former director of the Diário, Luís Calisto, and a young construction worker. The motive: an answer the latter had given to an online question the Diário had raised as to whether the (regional) president should continue or not as head of Government: ‘No, at least, not to continue benefitting the same clan that supports him’. For this statement alone, a case is drawn up, the court is convened, time is wasted, money is wasted, families are harassed... In short, the purest form of citizenship inscribed in the Constitution is killed off: the right to freely evaluate one’s government.
Observing the apparatus of the trial, the magistrates’ togas, the fine workmanship of the court-room, disillusioned and revolted, I asked myself: Was it for this that the Estado Novo (the so-called Old Madeira) invested so much in such a grandiose palace…to serve the whims of the ‘New Madeira’?
Its time for Madeirans to wake up!  Have you chosen a Man to govern or a ‘snitch’ to sit you in the dock? Have you chosen someone to look after your interests or someone to persecute you? Everyone was obliged to show up in court: Judge, Public Prosecutor, Lawyers, the Accused, Witnesses; all except one person: the ‘snitch’ himself, hidden in his bunker or his warren, ears taped up, with a deranged expression, fuming, ready to throw himself at anyone who opposes him, to harass them and to rob them of what is most precious, their freedom and their citizens’ rights. 
Alas, such was the inconvenience of this miserable court case that even the judge could not contain himself from advising the defense: ‘Hurry up. I have more important cases to deal with, of crimes and prisoners. I even have another case moved by the same plaintiff!’ The same plaintiff, the same (regional) President. The man who rails against the judicialisation of politics and rants against the non-elected is the first to ask the judges and the non-elected to condemn the electorate! 
What kind of generation are we bringing up? Do you want us to be deaf and dumb hunchbacks, apathetic  and anesthetized, do you want us to be reptiles crawling before any haggard occupant of the presidential palace?
I know what I am talking about. 22 years ago, the same plaintiff had me evicted from Parliament for over a year, without salary, just because I denounced the case of the silver that was stolen (from the Parliament), which the PSD inquiry ‘hushed up’. I was also tried. But I won the case and I re entered the Parliament with a red carnation on my lapel, under the drop-jawed, fallen gazes of the PSD MPs, who I addressed  from the tribune: ‘I thank God and Fate for having allowed you to live to see me enter here before those of you who evicted me one year ago!’
We cannot be silent, no! We are all guilty of this semantic joke that equates Autonomy with Dictatorship. In conscience, I  have to praise the courage of the young construction worker who left the court room acquitted and victorious. I congratulate the Diário and the lawyers who accepted to take this cause on and also the distinguished witnesses that were willing to lend their face.  It is due to you that Madeira is a little freer and more Autonomous!

sexta-feira, 25 de março de 2011

Book launch: ‘Jardim, the Great Fraud’ by Albino Ribeiro Cardoso

Today, the Autonomous Region of Madeira is everything except autonomous and the development model imposed by Jardim is a total failure. The island lives above its means; drowning in a sea of debt, it is totally dependent on the outside.
After 35 years of political autonomy, with an own Government, with substantial transfers from the State Budget, topped by 25 year of generous EU funding, Madeira has modernized on the surface but not on the inside. It bet everything on concrete (which benefited a restricted clientele) but ‘forgot’ everything else.
That is: it has highways and tunnels which impress tourists and hurried journalists, but although, proportionally, no other region of the country has received so much external funding, Madeira, after 35 years of PSD-M absolute majorities, continues, as before, one of the most backward regions of Portugal, with the greatest number of poor people, the greatest percentage of illiteracy and of school dropouts, the biggest social inequality and the most civil servants. Without industry, agriculture or fishing, it is once more facing mass unemployment and immigration. If this were not enough, the regime created by Jardim is a simulacrum of democracy, a stain on post-revolution Portugal.
Discover who Alberto João Jardim really is, how he came to and maintained himself in power. Figure out the inner workings of the regime, its relation to the Church, the justice system and the media, the web it has spun, and the widespread subsidy-dependence on the island. Find out who is who in the Jardim regime, ponder on the supreme leader’s unbridled language and his frustration at never managing to attain a position outside the island. Question the silence and inertia of the successive occupants of Belem (Presidency) and São Bento (Portuguese Government) – and above all, the complicity of the national PSD (Social Democrat Party).

quarta-feira, 23 de março de 2011

Madeira 2009 Election Violations

This short documentary was sent with the letter below to the President of the European Commission and to 116 MEPs

Request for EU Election Monitors

Your Excellency, President of the European Comission
On behalf of the Partido da Nova Democracia (PND), Portugal, I am writing to bring to your attention the continued violation of election laws in the Autonomous Region of Madeira, Portugal.
Democracy in Madeira is jeopardized; the Regional President, Alberto João Cardoso Gonçalves Jardim, has enjoyed 32 (thirty two) consecutive years in absolute power.
Elections in the Autonomous Region of Madeira are increasingly fraught with allegations of intimidation of opposition candidates, voter intimidation, vote-rigging and usage of state means by the ruling party, Partido Social Democrata (PSD), to carry out its election campaigns.
Of these, the most visible and outrageous is the use of state means for political propaganda and in particular the violation of the rule of impartiality, which, as one knows, stipulates that once an election date is set, all political office-holders, acting in official capacity, are beholden to observe strict impartiality towards all candidatures.
During the 2009 Municipal and Legislative Elections, President Alberto João Jardim held 70 (seventy) official inauguration ceremonies, during which he proffered highly chauvinist, defamatory and inflammatory speeches, praising his own government and slating the opposition parties. For your information, I have included a 10 minutes DVD, which shows footage of these speeches.
As you will see, the Regional President of Madeira, Alberto João Jardim, labels opposition parties ‘fascists’, ‘colonialists’, ‘traitors’, ‘saboteurs’, ‘mafias’, ‘enemies of democracy’, ‘enemies of progress’ and so on.
State entities have taken no action to curb these abuses: the National Commission of Elections has remained silent on the matter, and the Public Prosecutor's office allowed denunciations of election crimes to prescribe, without bringing charges.
In view of the European Union's commitment to uphold and spread high standards of democracy and good-governance throughout the globe, and of its long experience in monitoring elections, we hereby make an unusual request to the European Commission to consider and approve an EU Election-monitoring mission to a region within the EU, namely the Autonomous Region of Madeira, to cover the election and pre-election period for the Regional Legislative Elections, due to be held in the fall of 2011.
Yours sincerely,
Eduardo Welsh,
Director of the Partido da Nova Democracia

terça-feira, 22 de março de 2011

Ghost Companies in the Madeira Off-Shore

Since 1987, the Madeira Off-shore Zone has been run by a private company on a 30 year concession. It is the major beneficiary of the profits for exploiting this concession, through levying the yearly fees and licenses.
The privileged tax regime applied in this Off-Shore, created in 1984 originaly for industries, was broadened to financial services and shipping registration. The Off-shore has served as a virtual address for ghost-companies involved in multi-million deals that artificially boost the GDP and which are not taxed by any country.
To give an example, the Russian multimillionaire Oleg Deripaska, the ninth richest man in the world in 2008, uses a company headquartered in the Off-Shore to divert the profits of the United Company Rusal – the biggest world producer of aluminum. An audit carried out by the Audit Office of the Russian Federation reveals that Wainfleet, a company headquartered in the Madeira Off-Shore functions a ghost-company and serves to dissimulate UC Rusal’s sales, taking advantage of the tax benefits of the Off-shore. In 2007 it had a turnover of 1,7 of the Portuguese GDP, despite having only a capital stock of 5000 Euros and employing only four workers. According to the Portuguese Business Association, in the year 2007, it was the country’s biggest exporter (over 3000 million Euros).
Last week, the Off-Shore again hit the headlines due tan an investigation on tax evasion carried out in Italy regarding the purchase of the pharmaceutical company Chiron by Novartis Pharma, through the company Appold which is based on the Madeira Off-shore. A sum of 1226 Million was omitted from the deal.
Last October, the Portuguese investigative police was asked to collaborate in another investigation by the Italian Financial Police, to detain three managers suspected of fiscal fraud (90 Million) and money laundering. The Italian Police believe that at least seven companies based on the Madeira Off-Shore played a fundamental role in emitting invoices for inexistent services which served as a front for financial operations of a group of companies owned by the Italian Giuseppe Spadaccini.
According to the Ministry of Finance, of the 2981 companied installed in the Madeira Off-Shore, 2435 have no declared employees.
Source: excerpts from Publico newspaper 21.03.2011

segunda-feira, 21 de março de 2011

Letter to the EU Commission re: Solidarity Fund Madeira

Johannes Hahn
Commissioner for Regional Policy 
Your Excellency,
The Partido da Nova Democracia, a political party which is represented in the Legislative Parliament of Madeira, having read Your Excellency’s answer to UKIP MEP Nigel Farage’s question to the Commission regarding the EU Solidarity Fund/Madeira (E-11078/10EN), would like to put the following considerations before the Commission.
Your answer states that the Portuguese Government’s application contains ‘all the relevant information’ and that the damage estimates it contained were ‘found to be plausible’, but Mr. Barroso’s Commission evidences the same reticence as the Portuguese Government in sharing any details.
The meager information the Commission has made available raises even greater doubts about the damages claimed by the Regional Government and raises suspicions that the funds made available through the Lei de Meios for reconstruction may be diverted to finance investments that are totally unrelated to the damages caused on the 20th of February 2010.
Is the Commission aware, for instance, that the Regional Government, without informing the parliament, has unilaterally approved a 40€ million project for part of the Funchal waterfront to be financed through the Lei de Meios as part of the 127€ million attributed to repair coastal infrastructures?
This is NOT a project to repair damage and remove the rock and debris dumped as a temporary landfill on the waterfront, but rather a NEW project to DESTROY the only natural beach in Funchal bay and to build a series of entirely new infrastructures which include new squares, new marinas and a new docking port!
A quick glance at the detailed report, identifying the damage spots and the extent of the damage in each instance, would indeed no doubt be sufficient to assess the plausibility of the damages claimed - if such report was ever drawn up in the first place, which we believe NOT to be the case. Not even members of the Portuguese Parliament have been given access to such a report.
The Commission’s own answer is utterly unconvincing, for though it claims to have been given all the relevant information, from the sloppy nonsense it saw fit to divulge, we can only surmise that this could mean one of two things:
A)     That the information contained in the Commission’s answer is the full extent of the information supplied by the Portuguese Government and that that has been deemed sufficient for the purposes of the EU Solidarity Fund application.
B)      That if there is any real detailed report, Mr. Barroso’s Commission is deliberately withholding the details, with the full knowledge that the figures claimed are unrealistic and that the proposed funding is to be spent on new projects which have nothing to do with the 20th of February disaster.
Given the evidence of the intended misuse and diversion of disaster funding, we once more request that the Commission, without further ado, make available or consultable ALL the information it has received from the Portuguese Government on the 1080€ Million estimated damages caused by the rainstorm of the 20th of February.
Please understand that this is an issue very dear to Madeirans, given that this funding may be used to commit the biggest environmental attack ever committed in Madeira - the destruction of the only natural beach in the bay of Funchal.
For this reason, on the 20th of February 2011, one year after the disaster, over two thousand people formed a human chain on the site of the proposed project, to demand the removal of the landfill and the restoration of the beach. Two thousand people,  who cannot but be considered courageous in defying a 35-year-old regime,  which is successively elected with blatant violations of election laws and which does not hesitate to insult and persecute all those who stand up for their rights or dare to speak their mind.
It is time for Europe give a signal that there are values that higher than money, political conveniences and outright cronyism.
We furthermore add that all information solicited will be sent to the judicial authorities to investigate the eventual illegality of use of national and/or European funding.
Yours sincerely,
Eduardo Welsh,
On behalf of the leadership of the Partido da Nova Democracia

Funchal, 24rd of February 2011

domingo, 20 de março de 2011

What did Robert Schuman do to deserve this?

The German Ambassador recently congratulated President Jardim for having been awarded the Robert Schuman Prize by the European People's Party (EPP) of the European Parliament. 

It is a case for asking, who is Robert Schuman and what has he in common with Jardim? 

Was he a politician renowned for his rudeness and for insulting everybody? 
Did he perpetuate himself in power for over 33 years by violating election laws? 
Did he advocate that his Party should be like the mafia? 
Did he persecute and incite violence against his political opponents?
Was he a head of government who claimed to lead a 'superior people'?

Apparently this is the political example the EPP group wishes to promote in Europe through the Robert Schuman Prize. 

sexta-feira, 18 de março de 2011

Petition to stop the money from the Lei de Meios being used to destroy the Bay of Funchal

Your Excellency, the President of the Portuguese Parliament
Following the catastrophic deluge of the 20th of February 2010, the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira created a temporary landfill to the South of the Avenida do Mar, to deposit the debris carried by the three streams which flow into Funchal bay. This temporary landfill remained throughout the whole summer and was increased with further deposits from the rains of the 21st of October, the 25th of November, the 20th of December 2010 and the 20th of January 2011. What was meant to be a temporary solution turned into a permanent landfill. On the 15th of February 201, the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira announced its intention to resort to the funding provided by the Lei de Meios to build a pier for cruise ships and a marina on the site of the landfill, with an estimated to cost 40 million Euros.
Considering that this is a new work and not a reconstruction of damaged infrastructures;
Considering that the intervention proposed by the Regional Government of Madeira will irreversibly destroy the beach adjacent to the Avenida do Mar.
Considering that, in the event of flooding, the project may further obstruct the flow of the Santa Luzia and João Gomes streams;
Considering that the operation of a pier in open sea will be greatly conditioned in the months of October and November, which are the preferred months for visiting cruise ships;
Considering that the proposed intervention will alter the character of the bay of Funchal, putting its quality as a tourist destination in jeopardy and limiting its use by the local residents;
Considering that the funds made available through the Lei de Meios are to be used prioritarily for urban requalification and to safeguard the population;
The undersigned citizens reject the possibility that the Regional Government of Madeira spend the funding from the Lei de Meios to build new port infrastructures and request that the Portuguese Parliament reanalyze the above-mentioned law to ensure that national solidarity funding be used only to reconstruct those infrastructures damaged by the floods of the 20th of February 2010.
To sign the petition, please go to:

33 years in power

Yesterday, Alberto João Jardim commemorated his 33rd anniversary as President of the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira. Jardim has been successively elected with blatant violations of election laws. During his tenure, Jardim has rarely set foot in Parliament, arguing that he answers directly to the people.