quinta-feira, 29 de novembro de 2012

Eight charged over Jornal protest

The Public Prosecutor´s Office is bringing criminal charges against 8 candidates of the PND, New Democracy Party, for the protest carried out against the Jornal da Madeira during the last regional elections campaign. The Eight are:

Marcio Amaro, actor
Dionisio Andrade, retired journalist, former president of the Madeira journalist's trade union
Helder Spinola, University lecturer, former president of the environmental NGO Quercus
Joel Viana, PND General Secretary, teacher
António Fontes, lawyer
Gil Canha, City Councilor, former head of environmental NGO Cosmos
Baltasar de Aguiar, lawyer
Eduardo Welsh, sinologist

Criminal proceedings were brought by the Jornal's director, Rui Nobrega Gonçalves, no stranger to the Public Prosecutor's Office himself. Nobrega has been investigated several times by the Criminal Police and the Public Prosecutor's Office, but he seems to lead a charmed life. Recently, a corrupt magistrate in the Public Prosecutor's Office threw out an investigation into fraud at the Jornal which had been instigated at the request of the Court Auditors. The corrupt magistrate, by all accounts a friend of Nobrega's wife, who is a judge, simply chose to turn a blind eye to the law.

Nobrega's luck, however, seems to be changing, and his days of impunity may be over. The editor of the Jornal is being charged by the Public Prosecutor's Office with violation of the election law and the Public Prosecutor's Office has ruled that the charges have to be extended to the Company itself and therefore its Director, Nobrega. This is the first of four charges of election law violation brought against Bertie's paper.

segunda-feira, 26 de novembro de 2012

Dissenting voices excluded from Bertie's Regional Congress

The Madeira PSD congress, held over the last weekend, showed Bertie stooping to a new low. To ensure a docile meeting and the usual fervent ovations to his two-hour-long speeches Bertie handpicked the 700 party delegates who were to attend. Left at the door and not allowed to enter were all those who had given their name to Albuquerque's candidacy: Pedro Calado, the deputy Mayor, Rubina Leal, former PSD commissariat member and others. Bertie's attacks on the traitors and enemies of Madeira, the internal and external ones, were met with the usual pavlovian enthusiasm and his motion would have been passed with totalitarian unanimity were it not for a lone hand raised in abstention: Miguel Albuquerque's.

Meanwhile Albuquerque's supporters are already loosing their jobs. Vanda Correia de Jesus who supported Albuquerque's candidacy has seen her contract terminated in some cushy, obscure Government department. 'Rome doesn't pay traitors', Jardim used to say when he hounded people who gave their face to the opposition out of their jobs. Now, its his own party members who are facing the same treatment (Vanda even happens to be the wife of a national MP for Madeira).

quarta-feira, 21 de novembro de 2012

Billion Euro Loan buys Madeira's vote on Portuguese Budget

The national PSD Government has approved a new billion Euro loan to the Madeira Government in exchange for the Madeira PSD MPs in the national parliament voting in favour of the Portuguese Budget.

Passos Coelho's national Government has consistently shored up Madeira's corrupt dictator to ensure Madeira's four national MPs tow the party line. The Madeira Government, which has built up a six billion Euro debt, has not managed to reduce its debt at all in the last year. These loans to Madeira, which are apparently to help Madeira reduce its debt are simply doing the opposite - merely delaying and stalling the debt repayment.

Jardim is not trying to solve the debt problem he created, he's merely playing for time, desperate to cling on to power for as long as possible... and Portuguese government is obviously hanging by a thread if it needs the support of the Madeira dictator to shore up its own power.

sexta-feira, 2 de novembro de 2012

Jardim beats Albuquerque by 2 to 3%

Jardim won a marginal victory over Albuquerque in the PSD elections, with 51-53% of the votes against Albuquerque's 47 to 49%. Albuquerque claims he lost by a mere 83 votes.

The result is a clear slap in the face to Jardim, who has never been challenged in an internal election and has always been elected by near unanimity: 97-99% of the votes, the remainder being null or blank.

Jardim's phyric victory only further weakens his legitimacy and prolongs the agony of Europe's longest standing corrupt dictatorship.

segunda-feira, 22 de outubro de 2012

Autonomy Statue Removed

The statue of Autonomy has been removed from the Autonomy Square. Surely symbolical of the state Madeira has reached, so heavily indebted that it only has Autonomy in name and in Jardim's propaganda.

Symbolic also that it is being removed as part of a project which includes the building of a contested project for a new shipping dock in Funchal harbour, which is being financed with the money received for reconstruction following the 20th of February flash floods.

The docking facility is another pork-barrel project to fill the pockets of a handfull of constructors. Experts say that due to its exposure to the open seas it may only be operational half the time.

Public Tender for Car Inspections Judgement

The Central South Court has anulled the public tender for car inspections which was "won" by the Henriques brothers, friends of Bertie's.

A rival firm, CIMA which had come in first place for the tender took the adjudication to Court in 2007. CIMA had actually made the best offer and come out on top of the list, but the Regional Government decided that the Henrique's offer was more coherent and better adapted to the Region. The Court has decided otherwise and the Regional Government may now have to pay a substantial compensation to CIMA for its decision.

Curiously, the same thing happened with the parking concession which Funchal City also attributed to the Henriques despite having received a better offer. The City also had to pay a compensation to the competing firm.

In conclusion, the Henriques win these tenders despite not having the best proposals; they profit from these illegal decisions; the Government and Câmara lose in Court and the taxpayer has to pay compensation to the other companies. No civil or criminal responsibility is asked of the decision-makers and the taxpayer foots the bill. Portuguese justice.

segunda-feira, 8 de outubro de 2012

Denge fever in Madeira

Alarm has spread about Denge fever on Madeira, fueled by the incompetence and inability of the Jardim Government.

In the middle of last week, two cases of Denge were reported and 22 more were under surveillance. By Friday there were 36 confirmed cases.

No analyses were carried out over the week-end and the authorities, in a sort of soviet-style denial policy, say they will not divulge any further information, to avoid alarmism!

The Light of Thought

Testimony of Pedro Vieira in the book on Martins Junior

I was a young man of 14, but I will never forget that strange episode when we had a two week power cut during Christmas. Why? My father had had the courage to supply electricity to Father Martins Junior's election campaign kiosk for Machico municipality, challenging the dominant power. I confess we never saw with so much clarity in he middle of the darkness they wished to impose on us. We understood that liberty was about to cross the threshold of the City and that the day of victory was at hand.

On the 17th of December 1989, Father Martins won the elections. I remember that night with great joy and emotion. The people partied in downtown Machico, commemorating their own victory! For me, it was the victory of seeing the light. The fear had disappeared, the air was lighter, history had begun a new cycle. We were living "April" (i.e. the Revolution that toppled the dictatorship) in its plenitude.

Bertie takes it personally

With the internal elections approaching, despite being away from the region, Bertie writes a daily diatribe against Albuquerque in the Jornal. This is from yesterday's piece.

With the hypocrisy involved in this storming of the PSD/Madeira, organized by the same old enemies of the Party, internally mobilizing lack of scruples, we have seen the falsity of the statement "this is not personal".
So when someone launches an attack against the party leader, in public, with the help of the same old adversaries, this "is nothing personal"?
When they resort to the press which is hostile to the party leader - knowing that this hostility has a pathological bent - to make personal attacks attempting at civic assassination, without first having a loyal, eye to eye, frontal conversation,  they still have the hypocrisy to say "this is nothing personal"?...

When the Regional Congress of the PSD Madeira is to be held in two years time to elect the substitue of the current leader, do you think it proper that a "gang"  should organize itself for the most diverse sinister motives, within and outside the Party, to expel the person (i.e. myself, the great Bertie) who changed Madeira and led the Madeira PSD with success, wishing to humiliate him for personal "vengeance"?!
This is "nothing personal"...

Its unbelievable that a present day politician and leader can write and publish this kind of crap and get away with it. 

terça-feira, 2 de outubro de 2012

Bertie the Dictator to cleanse Party of rival's supporters

Bertie the Dictator cannot tolerate the challenge of having to face a rival candidature for party leadership and has promised to clean the Party of Albuquerque's supporters after the November Party Congress.

Never in over three decades has his party in Madeira had to vote between two candidatures and this is confusing many a pretty mind. Jardim's idolization within the Party has always rendered normal democratic processes a blasphemy.

From Bertie's perspective Albuquerque cannot be running as an alternative, but is the 'front man of the Party's enemies',  'trying to rupture the Party from within'. He is no more than a vain, opportunist traitor who bites the hand that feeds and 'stabbed' the great leader in the back.

Jardim has always purged and persecuted those within the PSD who challenged him in any way, however insignificant, which is one of the reasons no-one would ever even dare consider running against him... until now that his popularity has plummeted and people are totally revolted by him; They can't stand to see him or bear to hear his voice any longer.

Jardim advocates Separatism

Weeks before the Party Congress where his leadership is being challenged, Jardim ups the stakes and presents a global motion which calls for the separation of Madeira from Portugal... if the region is not granted greater (?) autonomy.

Jardim has always used the threat of separatism for pure demagogery, saying he did not advocate it but that the policies of his enemies in Lisbon and their 'attacks' on Madeira were stoking up separatist sentiments. He promised to take Lisbon's 'colonial' policies to the UN and so on.

His threats have always been part of a political ploy to stir emotions and Jardim himself has never taken these arguments at face value. The difference is this time, in desperation, he has gone beyond insinuating a separatist threat, to actually advocating the possibility of independence.

...But the threat is carried out without conviction and confidence. It is a written threat, lost in pages of a long motion, not one of his violent rants. The front page headline in the Jornal is revealing of his loss of direction. The separatist threat is relegated to a small headline at the bottom of the page, while the main headline is the increase in banana production!

Coito Pita on Albuquerque’s Oedipus Complex

The state-owned Jornal da Madeira, whose editorial line is totally dominated by Jardim, has intensified attacks on Jardim’s Party rival. Here is an excerpt from an article written by the regional PSD MP, Coito Pita, published yesterday.
If anyone, at the invite of the president of a party, has been vice-president of the parliament, vice-president of the party, deputy secretary-general, candidate for mayor, does anyone internally think it is normal that this person, merely out of vanity, should call into question the leadership of the person to whom he owes everything?
This is not a question of ideas, if so nobody knows them, its an internal split to satisfy his ego and the will of outside interests. It could even be so, but never coming from someone whose rise was due to the invitation of the person he is now challenging.
And its also not the application of the rule of democratic change, for one simple reason: even within parties it is unacceptable for someone who is part of a group to call into question the leader of the group, change comes from outside from those who owe that leader nothing.
This to me is immoral, it violates and offends my principles, it is unacceptable and unreasonable.
This is why our Penal Code uses the term qualified homicide to the act of a son killing his father, to show it is particularly reprehensible and perverse.
The article is revealing on the internal workings of the local PSD and the canine loyalty and total subservience expected of the militants and even of the leadership to the ‘great leader’ to whom every single member of the party owes his position.

domingo, 30 de setembro de 2012

Martins Junior: The Assault on the Church

Excerpt from the book 'Olhares Multiplos sobre um Homem de Causas' recording fifty years of the life of Madeiran priest and politician, Martins Junior

In February 1985, bishop Dom Teodoro Faria and President Alberto João, organised with the head of the Police, Nuno Homem Costa, the assault on the church of the Ribeira Seca. At dawn, on a dark winter morning, 70 policemen rush the church, smash the door, change the locks, remove books from the arquive, the sound system and other goods which were never returned. The mayor, Jorge Gomes and Father Pestana Martinho, priest of Machico also joined in the operation.

The parishioners who witnessed the arrival of ten police trucks told Padre Martins, "you can go, we'll take care of this". And so it was, Father Martins went to his parents' house, in Banda D'Ale´m, and the police occupied the church and the parish hall. All without judicial mandate. They remained there for 18 days and 18 nights.

Meanwhile, the priest gathered the parishioners in the hills of Ribeira Seca, praying and reading the Gospels. The people behaved with the greatest civility, in contrast to the fury of of certain policemen led by Homem Costa, who dragged people to the Police station and to the Santa Cruz Court, to be summarily judged - although the judge refused.

"During this time the priest said he would leave and so end the confusion, but the people said no", recalls Julia Ribeiro. "The church services  at the time the church was invaded, were held elsewhere in the parish, and there the people would gather to celebrate mass on sundays".

"The people would gather to celebrate mass", adds Maria Gomes, " but always quickly, for the police  might show up." ...

"The police were getting on well in Ribeira Seca and even got to know the songs the people sang, 'The Church belongs to the people, the people belong to God, What are the Police doing, In the house of God?"

After eighteen days and eighteen nights, silently and without explanation, the Police abandoned the church, leaving the people in peace.

Martins Junior became mayor of Machico and Regional Parliamentarian. He was beaten up and thrown out of Parliament by Jardim's men. He continues to be an outspoken and charismatic critic of the dictatorship. 

quinta-feira, 20 de setembro de 2012

PSD Foundation investigation blocked

The Public Prosecutor's investigation into the Madeira PSD Foundation is stopped due to Jardim's parliamentary immunity. Jardim is the Foundation's chairperson. The Regional Parliament also refused to allow Miguel Mendonça and Jaime Ramos, both administrators of the Foundation, to testify.

The Foundation's objectives are charitable, but in reality its activity is party-political. The Foundation owns dozens of buildings which it rents out to the Party. In other words, they are not used for the charitable purposes for which the foundation was set up, but benefit from the tax exemptions associated to its charitable status.

The investigation was launched in 2008 and has been stopped for the last two years.

source: Publico

Jardim (and his cronies) can and do get away with anything due to the gross misuse of Parliamentary immunity to protect the systematic violations of Portuguese law. Criminal prosecution cannot touch these boys, which is one of the reasons they are in power.

segunda-feira, 17 de setembro de 2012

PSD Party a flop

The PSD Party at the PSD foundation's estate called Chão da Lagoa, held on the 9th of September was a shadow of its glory days. Attendance was 10,000 short of last year's event and Jardim's speech was mostly targeted at his internal rival Albuquerque.

Followers of the former PSD youth leader José Pedro Pereira turned up displaying slogans daubed "there is only one President, Jardim and no other" and heckled Albuquerque during his speech.

The PSD youth elections in Funchal held later in the week had to be supervised by hired security in case trouble broke out between rival factions. Pereira's faction lost to the candidate of the current leader, Romulo Coelho, who has been criticised internally for not openly pledging allegiance to Jardim.

Jardim is said to be nervous about the internal challenge and has had his party machine phoning up militants to guarantee their loyalty to him.

Rubina Leal, Funchal city councillor for the PSD recently resigned from the PSD Political Comission, stating that she no longer believed in his leadership. She had in any case stopped being convoked to the Political Comission's meetings.

quinta-feira, 6 de setembro de 2012

Jardim intensifies attacks on party rival

Jardim has been increasing his attacks on Miguel ALbuquerque, the Mayor of Funchal" in official speeches and in articles written in the Jornal.

Jardim refers to Albuquerque as "politically unemployed" and a "sorcerer's apprentice". In an article written in the Jornal (whose orientation is the responsibility of the Bishop) Jardim wrote that it is necessary to resist the internal enemy "formed by people without scruples or education, of those from the past and the present who have chips on their shoulder, those who are frustrated with life, those who are jealous, mercenaries e even those who despite being well treated do not hesitate to betray and stab one in the back".

Albuquerque says he will not be intimidated by Jardim's deliriums, by obscure fantasies which seek to create ghosts where they don't exist

terça-feira, 14 de agosto de 2012

New Tender for Funchal harbour

The Regional Government has launched a new public tender for Funchal Harbour worth 18 million Euros. The previous tender had to be dropped because all the companies' tenders were too high.

The dock is to be built on the Funchal beachfront in an area which was used by the Government as a temporary landfill for the debris resulting from the 20th of February 2010 flash floods. The Governmet used this as an excuse to use the special package specifically allocated for reconstruction of damaged infrastructures, to embark on a totally new venture. Meanwhile, much of the 20th of Feburary damage remains untouched, needing repair.

A protest against the project led to a 2000 strong demonstration on the landfill sight in 2011. A large part of the Madeira debt and the debts that Jardim hid from the National Government and the Regional Parliament (with the help of the construction companies themselves) are due to Jardim's many mega construcion projects, many of which have no practical use.

sábado, 4 de agosto de 2012

'Deep throat' on Jardim benefitting from Madeira Offshore

In one of the last Parliamentary sessions of July, José Manuel Coelho, MP for the Labour Party, read out an anonymous letter signed 'Deep Throat', whose author claimed Jardim benefits from the Madeira Tax Free Zone. In 1984, a thirty year concession to run the Zone was given to the Pestana group, which gets the lion's share of the proceeds, 70%, leaving the remainder 30% to the Government. Deep Throat claims Jardim and Luís Miguel de Sousa (Pestana's partner in the Madeira Brewery  and a cousin of the Sousas who were granted the ports monopoly) are in on the deal, through a Luxemburg based offshore company linked to Pestana.

As Coelho read the letter the PSD MPs who invariably heckle and interrupt his interventions, listened in stunned silence. No one uttered a word.

sexta-feira, 3 de agosto de 2012

Ten Years

Yesterday I was stopped in the street by a sympathizer who said if only we had appeared on the scene ten years ago, things might have been different, we might have been able to open peoples' minds and change things for the better. People wouldn't have paid us any attention, I said.

Curiously, it has been ten years since I returned to Madeira and got involved. December 2002. In 2003 My sister and I protested the expropriation of the Hinton factory. My sister lay on the ground in front of the bulldozer. People were shocked, it was not the done thing!

When I returned my family were being treated as real social pariahs. Childhood friends would shy away and pretend not to see me, we were an embarrassment. We had been singled out by Jardim as enemies of the Madeirans who must be hated, ostracized, expropriated and expelled. We were an example of how he could use state power to persecute and destroy people. The Government proposed to pay a pittance in compensation and Jardim began a real hate campaign in state occasions and in the press, even accusing us of using slave labour. The message was not lost on anyone; they feared receiving the same treatment if they were associated with us.

We persisted. The following year, 2004, when the site was inaugurated during the election campaign, we lay on the ground in protest. On Jardim's orders, were hauled away by police in front of the national TV stations, which also broadcast Jardim's hate filled public speech against us. People began to timidly show their support.

Actually, the first protest had already attracted some support. It lead to me meeting the journalist Gil Canha (fired from the Diário for his 'delenda cartago: to unload a ship in Madeira costs six times more than in the Azores, Thank President Jardim').

In January 2004 we launched the first issue of the satirical newspaper 'Garajau'. We denounced what the other papers were afraid to touch, naming names. We expected not to last six months, but it was a success with the public. From the second issue on, the Government began to instal criminal proceedings against our cartoons, humor, opinion pieces, and much later for our investigations.

Humour, protest and making the justice system work were our three lines of action. We began to denounce the negligence and complicity in the Public Prosecutor's Office and in the Justice system. Naming judges and prosecutors who received favors. We started targeting entities to take a stand on the abuses here: Public Prosecutor's Office, National Commission of Elections, Press Entity, President of the Republic, European Commission.

We also launched court proceedings to, among other things, stop illegally approved buildings - something which was already being done by environmental associations and the then socialist, Filipe Sousa, from Gaula. In 2007, I  launched a case against the Funchal Centrum, the biggest building in the centre of Funchal - approved on the basis of an absurd appreciation that since it occupied a whole block it needn't comply with the city plan. Nobody had dared take on Jardim's right hand man, Jaime Ramos before. When the building was embargoed, Jardim had a fit, accusing us of being Ayatollahs and saboteurs and promising retaliation. The embargo was another shake to the system.

In 2007 we entered politics through the Partido da Nova Democracia. Our objective was to use humor, protest and the law to challenge the 30 year old regime. We (Gil, Baltasar, Coelho and myself) protested against Jardim's use of inaugurations for party political campaign. Jardim incited his supporters against us, we were heckled and physically harassed at every step.

Our political TV advert, in which we used the character Bexiga to make fun of the regime however, was a huge success. When we took him to a huge inauguration where a crowd of thousands had gathered and Bexiga began to meet and greet the people, just twenty or so meters behind Jardim, Jardim really blew his top and the situation nearly got out of hand.

We elected one Member of Parliament in 2007. The Public Prosecutor's Office allowed our case against Jardim's election crimes to prescribe.

We have not stopped since. In January 2011, we embarked on a mammoth task of challenging the Jardim's Party and exposing the regime's abuses in Madeira by launching José Manuel Coelho as Presidential candidate. In a society where people were afraid to criticize the regime, we managed to gather more than the 7500 necessary signatures. Coelho won 39% of the votes in Madeira, 5% behind the candidate of the PSD and CDS, Cavaco. A current of change had begun - the regime was shown to be vulnerable - alas, ten years too late!

Who Funds the PSD Madeira Foundation?

The Portuguese Government released a report evaluating foundations in Portugal which includes the Madeira Social Democrat Foundation. According to the report, between 2008 and 2010, the Foundation recieved no public money, but also did not benefit anyone.

The Foundation was created in 1992, with an initial heritage of 50.000 escudos, which climbed to the value of twelve million, seven hundred thousand and twelve Euros by 2010.

For some time now, the Foundation has stopped paying the scholarships it awarded to students

The big question is who funded and who funds this millionaire Foundation and why?

Although it purports to be a charitable foundation to help students and those in need, much of its purpose is purely political. The foundation owns over fifty buildings which it rents to the Jardim's Party, to use as local party headquarters. It also owns the large landfill sight in the mountains where the PSD holds its annual summer party.

quarta-feira, 25 de julho de 2012

Jardim insinuates firemen were responsible for the fires

The President of Madeira, in recent declarations to the press, has insinuated that firemen were responsible for the fires that have burnt acres of porperty and destroyed an estimated fifteen houses.

Jardim had been calling on people to denounce the criminals who started fires and said that it was a strange coincidence that the fires started soon after he had declared Madeira had too many firemen. He said the fires were set almost as if to prove the opposite and insinuated that firemen had a hand in starting the fires.

The National Firemen's Union is taking Jardim to Court for libel.

One of the smaller fires, in Sta Cruz, apparently started from a controlled burning overseen by the Sta. Cruz Mayor, without the presence of the fire brigade. The facts were hushed up.

The city councillor, for the Together for the People Movement, has called for the Mayor's resignation. The Mayor went on holiday to Porto Santo, while the fires raged.

Funchal City looses IRS case

Portuguese Municipalities are entitled to receive 5% of Portugal's IRS, but all the IRS collected in the Autonomous Regions stays in the regions.

A battle of wills has been fought over the last years over who should pay the municipalities, the Central or Regional Governments. Funchal City took the National Government to Court over the matter and won at the lower Court. An identical case was pursued in the Azores. The Central Court also deliberated in favour of the Autonous Region. Both judgements were made by the same judge, Madeiran judge, Paulo Gouveia - who for many years had the powerful position of being the only judge in the Administrative Court in Madeira.

The Supreme Court has now overturned the ruling, saying that the Central Government cannot pay out what it never received.

Funchal Municipality intends to appeal to the Constitutional Court, rather than sending the bill to Jardim, with whom the Funchal Mayor is now at loggerheads.

quinta-feira, 19 de julho de 2012

PSD Party Adjourned

The PSD Madeira summer party has been adjourned to September in the wake of the recent fires. The party, traditionally held in the Chão da Lagoa, but now held in the PSD Foundation estate, was due to take place on the 22nd of July. The party ususally attracts forty thousand visitors, but this year the organizers were having difficulty selling tickets, despite these being sold for the lowest price ever - one Euro.

The star guest for this year, was the folk singer Quim Barreiros, not as popular as the previous years' attractions which have included Brasilian pop stars and the heartthrob, Tony Carreira. The singers usually perform just after Jardim makes his customary rabid speech.

Madeira beset by Forest Fires

Several serious forest fires have broken out in Madeira over the last days. Two days ago a large forest fire devasted large areas in Calheta, namely in Ponta do Pargo, Lombo dos Marinheiros.

While the firemen from all over the island were still busy putting out the fire in Calheta, a large fire broke out last night in the Palheiro area of Funchal. This fire has now been extinguished, though there is a danger of the fire rekindling. According to the Funchal Municipality only two or three houses burnt down.

Fires also broke out in Ribeira Brava and Sta Cruz. The fire brigades have been stretched to the limits, combatting fires simultaneously on several fronts. Reinforcements from the mainland are expected.

The weather in Madeira has been extremely hot and dry for the last nine months, with hardly any rainfall, exacerbating the fire hazard. There are suspicions that some of the fires may have started deliberatly.

sábado, 14 de julho de 2012

Jardim anticipates congress

According to today's Diario, Jardim wants to anticipate his party congress. The move comes in the wake of the growing support for Albuquerque's leadership challenge. According to the statutes, the congress was due to be held in early 2012, but Jardim was to delay it to the following year.

Albuquerque had reportedly gathered the 300 signatures necessary to call for an extraordinary congress,  should Jardim insist on delaying. Jardim, left with no room for maneuver, is apparently calling for the confess to be held earlier, at the end of this year, in order to quash Albuquerque's support before it can gather more strength.

Rubina Leal, Funchal City Councilor for the PSD was excluded from the latest PSD leadership council, of which she is a member. She had been directly questioned at the previous meetings as to whether her allegiance lay with Albuquerque or Jardim.

Jardim's Dummy candidate, Manuel António Correia, will predictably not be running for leadership.

terça-feira, 10 de julho de 2012

Jardim invents false debt

In his public interventions over the last months, Jardim has insistently repeated that Portugal owes Madeira 9 billion Euros, 3 billion more than the Madeira debt.

He claims that according to the Portuguese Constituion, all Madeira's health and education expenses should have been paid for by the Portuguese State and that the State therefore owed Madeira 9 billion.

When Madeira was granted the statute of Autonomous Region, it got to keep all the tax income generated on the island and received extra from the mainland to compensate for its isolation, but to claim - thirty odd years later - that the State should also have paid all health and education costs is absurd, dishonest and utter tripe.

This is the type of manipulative disinformation that Jardim has used for the last thirty years to evoke phantom external enemies and to mobilise the people to keep him in power. Its disgusting that the national authorities allow him to keep voicing the same dangerous drivel unchallenged.

sexta-feira, 6 de julho de 2012

Condemned for Libel

The author of this blog has been condemned to pay 6000 Euros to the manager of the Jornal da Madeira, Rui Nobrega as a result of a civil suit. The case was brought against the Garajau newspaper for a report on the criminal investigation carried out by the Investigative Police on the performance of Rui Nobrega when he was acting as a bankruptcy executor.

The investigation found that contrary to regulations, Nobrega failed to open an account in the name of the creditors, using instead the personal account of himself and his wife - a judge. The bankrupt company, called Masiluz, belonged to one of Jardim's chronies, Manuel da Luz, who regularly accompanied Jardim in his summer banquets (paid by public and private companies), known as the 'summer university'. Nobrega sold part of the goods of the bankrupt company back to a company belonging to Manuel da Luz's son in law, at prices which did not benefit the creditors. Nobrega was acquitted by the judge before the trial phase - he claimed not to know the connection between the two parties. The Investigative Police was reportedly unhappy about the acquittal, but had no power to appeal the decision. The Court found that the Garajau article was slanted against Nobrega, raising questions as to his acquittal.

In its few years of existence, the Garajau satirical newspaper was target of dozens and dozens of court cases, which all added up, asked for close to a million Euros in compensation. Most of the cases were thrown out or dropped. But the Garajau still had to pay thousands of Euros in judicial fees. Many of the cases were brought by members of the Regional Government and were paid for by the taxpayer. The Garajau was acquitted in all the criminal suits that went to Court, except one case which is pending at the European Court of Human Rights. One case was dropped during the trial phase itself when witnesses called for the prosecution divulged information that could have lead to self-incrimination.

Rui Nobrega has been the subject of various investigations and has been very gently dealt with, not to say protected, by the Public Prosecutor's Office. In 2009, the Court Auditors sent their report to the Public Prosecutor's Office in order that they invstigate the 'fake business' of the Jornal cover price. The Jornal has a cover price of 10 cents, but is distributed for free. The distributor 'bought' the Jornal and then was paid handsomely for distributing the Jornal for free. The 10 cent cover price was and is a ruse to recieve the official publicity of the municipalities, which by law can only be made in paid newspapers. The Public Prosecutor's Office, after two years of so-called investigation, shelved the case saying that the 10 cent cover price had no juridical relevance ...omitting any reference to the law that prohibits official municipal publicity in freeby newspapers.

City Councilor's Property Juridically seized

The house of Filipe Sousa, City Councilor for Sta Cruz Municipality, has been the subject seizure by court order. Filipe Sousa leads the Together for the People Movement, who elected three city councilors for Sta Cruz, nearly wresting power away from Jardim's Party.

The Court order comes in the wake of the Councilors having revoked a municipal decision to go ahead with a ruinous project, which would have delapidated the finances of the already half bankrupt city.

The project involved highly connected PSD businessmen, who acquired a property (Quinta Escuna) from the Jardim's Social Democrat Foundation, and intended to build a center to be leased to the Municipality on terms that were very generous indeed for themselves and would be absolutely ruinous for the Municipality.

Sousa sees the move as a form of vengeance and intimidation on the part of the PSD.

National Comission of Elections condems Jornal again

The National Commission of Elections has again found that the Jornal da Madeira was not impartial in its coverage of the National Legislative Elections held in June 2011. Its coverage was favourable to the PSD in terms of space attributed. The PSD was the only party to recieve first page coverage (11 times). In terms of opinion pieces the Commission found that:
The Socialist Party is mentioned in 65 articles, 63 considered unfavourable and 2 neutral; It is the target of six cartoons, all considered unfavourable;
The PSD is mentioned in 14 articles, 8 favourable, 5 unfavourable (Jardim maintins a running battle with his party on the mainland. All references to the Madeira party are highly favourable); 5 unfavourable cartoons (the targets all belonging to the mainland) and one neutral;
The CDS is mentioned in 9 articles, 8 unfavourable and 1 neutral and one cartoon, unfavourable;
The Communist-Green Alliance is mentioned in six articles, 5 unfavourable and one neutral and one unfavourable cartoon;
The LEft Bloc is mentioned in five articles, 4 unfavourable and 1 neutral and 3 cartoons, all unfavourable;
The New Democracy Party is mentioned in 5 articles and one cartoon, all unfavourable;
The Labour Party is referenced in two articles and two cartoons, all unfavourable
The Earth Party is mentioned in two articles, unfavourable;
The remaining parties are mentioned in one article, unfavourable-

This result is hardly surprising since all the people who write political opinion pieces in the Jornal are PSD militants. The attacks against mainland PSD figures are consistent with the local PSD propaganda and aim to strengthen the local PSD presence within the national parliament).

The report has been sent to the local Public Prosecutor's Office to install criminal proceedings, as it has done on at least three occasions in the past. The local Public Prosecutor's Office has in the past systematically thrown out the cases, despite all the obvious and undeniable evidence. These decisions are currently on appeal.

The Jornal da Madeira is publicly funded to the tune of four million Euros per year and is handed out for free to the population. Its print run is hugely increased during the election periods.

sexta-feira, 29 de junho de 2012

PSD militants denounce PSD threats and intimidation

Tha Mayor of Funchal has been holding dinners in support of his candidacy for the Madeira PSD leadership, his supporters say they have been victim of threats and intimidation.

Among the measures denounced are the orders for public entities to 'scratch from the map' the owners of the restaurants where the dinners are held.

Some of the people present at the dinners have been summoned to the Presidential Palace and asked to reveal whether signatures have been collected at these dinners to press for a Party Convention in Spring next year. They allege that a number of supporters who are civil servants have been summoned by their superiors and questioned as to whether they know who they work for.

Worse pressures and outright persecutions have been long denounced by members of the opposition and civil society and even one or two high ranking PSD members have also resigned over the years in protest. Jardim's Party have always denied these practices, until now, when their own party members are being subjected to the same tactics long used to intimidate and persecute members of the opposition and dissenting voices from civil society.

One former militant and former shareholder in a company which won many government contracts and has since emigrated in disgust, told me the internal jargon used for these pressures is 'a lei do massacre' (the law of massacre). It consists of using every kind of concievable pressure both economic and from public entities to turn an individual's life into a living hell, until they cave in or have their livelihood and life personal life destroyed.

quarta-feira, 27 de junho de 2012

Election Comission findings on Jardim's election violations

The National Comission of Elections has deliberated that Alberto João Jardim and two Mayors violated the election laws during the 2011 Regional Elections. The decision has been forwarded to the Public Prosecutor's Office to install criminal proceedings.

Jardim and his party colleagues have been found to have violated the duty to maintain strict impartiality while acting in official capacity during public acts. Jardim has been found to use official, publicly funded, inauguration ceremonies to promote his own party and attack rival parties.

The findings naturally call into question the legitimacy of Jardim's election result, the legitimacy of the PSD majority in Parliament and the legitimacy of the Jardim Government itself. But will the Portuguese authorities act?

sexta-feira, 22 de junho de 2012

The Conspiracy Theory Today

Bertie’s conspiracy theory is again echoed in the most simplistic terms in the latest edition of his party newspaper, the Madeira Livre (Liberated Madeira), which has a print run of 25000 copies and is posted through anyone’s letterbox.
The caption reads ‘if the respective parties, or a coalition, won the elections, one of these creatures would be president of the Madeira Government’. A bracket points from the photos to a British flag and a sign of the freemasons, implying all the opposition are controlled by the English and the freemasons

Why Jardim hates the English

In the early 90's, when Jardim's party was beset with corruption scandals, Jardim began a more belligerent phase of his now 3 decade-long rule. With a tame TV and the Jornal under his control, the only news that bothered him was the Diário, half-owned by the Blandy family. Jardim needed a new fight to take the attention off the corruption and persecution scandals. He blamed the Diário and the English and set out on a hate-speech campaign, saying that the English wanted to return to the days of the dictatorship. He claimed there was no democratic opposition, that the Socialist Party had been infiltrated by the communist Party and wanted to install a totalitarian regime which would then be controlled by the English. He then set out to persecute and destroy the English and Anglo-descendent families by constantly vilifying them, destroying their businesses and expropriating their assets.

The campaign against the Diário then also began in earnest. He threatened those who put publicity in the Diário and ostracised all those who had any connection to the English. On many occasions over the last decades, he has threatened to expropriate the Diário itself and to find other means to run the 'foreigners' off the island. The English were the perfect scapegoats for all that went wrong. Like the Jews in Nazi Germany, they were portrayed as evil, shady characters, who were only interested in exploiting the Madeiran people. Like the Jews in Nazi Germany, Jardim used the law and state power to expropriate their assets, offering a symbolic compensation for them. The 'church' newspaper, the jardim-controlled Jornal, was one of the main vehicles for propagating this message. And 'cartoons' such as the one above showing the british flag and attacking the English have appeared on an almost weekly basis over the years

segunda-feira, 18 de junho de 2012

Mayor of Funchal denounces climate of Fear

In an interview to the Expresso, Miguel Albuquerque, denounces the climate of fear lived in Madeira - a situation long denounced by opposition parties, who have often been targets of political persecution.

Albuquerque's denounciations, however, refer to the climate within Jardim's (and Albuquerque's) Party, the PSD. He refers to threats of 'cleansing the party' and of summoning, one by one, all militants who join his candidature for Party leadership.

Albuquerque also denounced the non-functioning of the Regional Parliament, namely, because the Government does not answer before Parliament. The Government simply does not go to the Parliament.

The 22 Regional MPs for the opposition have signed an appeal to the Constitutional Court, asking it to evaluate the 'ilegality and inconstitutionality' of the current functioning of the Regional Parliament.

sábado, 16 de junho de 2012

'What about the pact for democracy?' Reading between the lines

of a typical propaganda article published in the Jornal by Emanuel Janes 

During the last 38 years of (subverted) democracy  in Madeira, there have been various frustrated attempts of unifying the opposition to better combat the Jardinista governance, objective they could never achieve in isolation, as has been proved by successive elections which, ignoring these prophets of doom, have always handed Jardim absolute majorities.

The objective of this opposition, which unfortunately Madeira has (how unfortunate!), has always been to bad-mouth in an attempt to dethrone the PSD and its president, a man who gave his all for his land (like Kim Il Sung, Hitler?), who sacrificed his life, his family (tears well up in my eyesand his political career (no less), to defend Madeira from the attacks of the colonialists (!!!!), both the local and continental ones. Without him (the heaven-sent one), Madeira would continue to be a colonial district of  medieval land with 'half a dozen camels playing cards at the tables of the Golden Gate' (presumably a quote from the great leader).

We all know that the  political regime in Portugal and the autonomous regions is a democracy, with free and democratic elections (where parliamentary immunity protects PSD members from being prosecuted for totally subverting the elections)…  But the opposition parties, because they do not accept their electoral defeats, calls them into question…All this goes to show how embarrassing and devoid of ideas this opposition is. It makes one laugh (all the way to the bank, I'm sure), when really it should make us feel like crying!

Now, with their fertile imagination, they have drummed up a 'pact for democracy' which has the Regional Government and all its supports laughing their pants off. This pact gathers ALL the opposition parties in a singularly abnormal situation, where you find socialists, catholics, fascists, communists, anarchists, people with chips on their shoulders and morons, in a desperate attempt to defeat Dr. Ablerto João (let me lick his boots some more please) and the PSD. .. 

This childish and offensive drivel goes on like this till the end of the page.

sexta-feira, 15 de junho de 2012

Court Auditor's Report on Connective Intelligence Scam

The Connective Intelligence Project was an Information Society Pilot Project on which the government spent millions and has literally nothing to show for it...so somebody got very lucky and got away it. This is what the report says:

1. The public expenditure on the 'connective intelligence' project was worth 3.995 million Euros. The contracts, protocols and solutions adopted were heavy on the public purse and ineficient in terms of creating a pilot project for the region in the domain of the 'Information Society'.

2. The Audit draws attention to the following aspects to the protocol signed between the Autonomous Region of Madeira and the International Centre for Connective Intelligence sole proprietorship company:

a) The Regional Education Secretariat did not fulfil its duty ...'acompany and evaluate the execution of activities, guaranteeing the fulfilment of the CITD'

b) When the protocol was denounced in 2001, there existed no proof of any results of the centers activities, and none of the goals of the project were attained.

a) The Secretariat accepted the bills presented by the Center without any of the informnation required by law. These expenses were processed and paid without any control of the respective services rendered.

b) Between the 1st of April (April Fool's Day) 2000 and 14 February (Valentine's day) 2003, a total of 1,397 million were paid to the center 'despite none of the milestones established by Anexes A and B of the protocol having been reached'.

c) The estimated 1.948 Million debt to the Center, which included and amount of 368,000 still to be billed, which the Secretariat confirmed to the BCP bank, is not substantiated.

d) The comfort letter emitted by the Secretariat in favour of the Center, without the provisions required by law, resulted in the BCP paying the company 1.948 million , i.e. the debt confirmed by the Secretariat.

e) Due to the payments made through the BCP arrangement (1.3 million) the Region has no further financial obligations to the company.

f) The eventual payment of the remaining amount 648 thousand Euro, suspended following an audit, may by law imply that the amount be repaid to the region, for damages and loss to the public purse.

No one resigned, no one was fired, no one has yet been called to account...

Funchal City decides to stop inaugurations during election campaign

The Funchal City Council unanimously approved a motion proposed by the New Democracy Party not to hold inauguration ceremonies during the election campaing period. The PSD's use of such official ceremonies for party-political propaganda during election times has long been denounced by opposition parties. This decision will significantly contribute to the fairness of the election process, which has been totally subverted by Jardim for the last three decades.

Jardim usually uses these occasions to make rabid speeches against the opposition parties and is shielded from criminal prosecution by the fact that his part's absloute majority in Parliament ensures his immunity is never lifted.

Albuquerque, the PSD Mayor of Funchal has reached the limit of mandates at the Funchal Municipality and cannot run for another term in office. Jardim has recently accused him of being a traitor and of having stabbed him in the back, due to the fact that Albuquerque is challenging him for party leadership.

Court Auditors: Madeira debt 5.9 billion in 2010

The Court Auditor's Report for the year 2010 calculates that the Madeira debt reached 5.887 billion Euro in 2010.

The Publico writes that by mid 2010 the debt had already reached 6.328 billion and estimates the regional debt to now have exceeded 8 billion Euro.

At the end of 2010 the region's direct debt was 963,3 million. The administrative debt reached1.9 billion, a steep rise in comparison to the previos year, owing to the discovery of information omitted the previous years. The public companies debt reached 3 billion and the financial debt of the companiesreached 1.738 billion. Unpaid bills (encargos assumidos e não pagos) was estimated at 1.455 billion Euros.

The auditor's report also reviewed the 2008 and 2009 to include all the hidden debt that had gone unreported in the previous years.

The Court Auditors concluded that the omission of debts resulted from the Regional Directorate of Budget and Accounts not having done their duty in checking the budget and supervising the accounts.

segunda-feira, 11 de junho de 2012

How the Justice System is worked

The justice system in Portugal is not known for its efficiency, particularly in regards to combatting corruption. In Madeira, the justice system is highly compromised. A web of regime-chronyism has been built over more than three decades.

1. Bertie does not need to control the hierarchies, he only needs sympathisers and informants in crucial positions in the main entities: Investigative Police (PJ), Public Prosecutor's Office and the Courts (i.e. judges)

2. The Investigative Police have investigated corruption and abuse of power and their investigations have secured important convictions. They are very careful with information within the hierarchy, as they are aware of their weak spots.

3. Their investigations are sent on to the Public Prosecutor's Office, which is one of the weakest and most compromised links in the justice system. Many a thorough investigation has been thrown out by the PP's Office, even where the information is more than sufficent to convict. The PP's Office has long been rife with Prosecutors who have strong ties to the Regime, and the national hierarchy has rarely acted on the information it has at its disposal to remedy this situation. It was no coincidence that for the 'Cuba Livre' operation DIAP (anti-corruption unit) totally bypassed the Madeira Office.

4. One of the main problems with the Public Prosecutor's Office is that it is unaccountable and has unlimited powers - to shelve inquiries, that is. Only those who are direct victims to a scheme can appeal the PP's decision and they are not always notified. State Entities, be it Investigative Police, National Comission of Elections, Court Auditors etc, who send cases to the PP's Office for prosecution have no right to appeal the latter's decision to throw out the case. Ditto for any citizen who denounces corruption, providing all the necessary facts. The Public Prosecutor's Office is all-powerful and there is no control in the hierarchy to prevent situations of conflict of interest and corruption/negligence (it is hard to tell them apart since one of the most effective ways of letting someone off the hook is simply to allow the crime to prescribe).

5. Finally, there is the Trial phase. Since this stage is more public, it is harder for the powers that be to manipulate it. Nevertheless a lot of pressure is exerted on judges and there are judges who have judged corruption cases and who's other half is known to be highly involved with regime corruption. Often, the case has already been diluted by the Public Prosecutor's Office by the time it reaches Court, ensuring that any damage is minimal.  The judge can also throw the case out before going to trial, in which case it is up to the Public Prosecutor to appeal  the decision or not.

quarta-feira, 6 de junho de 2012

World Association of Newspapers writes to President Cavaco

The World Association of Newspapers (WAN) sent a second letter to President Cavaco Silva about the Jornal da Madeira. The letter states that the Jornal has ignored the decisions and recommendations of the Press Regulation Entity and the Competition Authority  and that the distortion in the Madeira press market has worsened over the years.
The WAN is concerned about the funding conceded to the Jornal in the 2012 budget, which disrespect the recommendations of the above-mentioned entities. This ‘seems to confirm that the Jornal da Madeira is a publicly-funded tool used to support the President of the Regional Government who is in power for 34 years’.
According to the WAN the funding exceeds what any private investor could be expected to inject into a press company and result in a massive distortion of what should be a free and transparent press.
The Wan urges the Portuguese President to, in conjunction with the Prime Minister, ‘take the necessary measures to terminate the use of public funding which violates the principles of freedom of expression.’

terça-feira, 5 de junho de 2012

Opposition Parties Sign Democracy Pact - Dictator Laughs

All eight opposition parties signed a pact for democracy at a ceremony held outside the Madeira Parliament this Monday. The opposition parties denounce the lack of democracy in a Parliament which lacks power to call the Government to account and which ends up as a puppet used to legitimize a de facto dictatorship.

Bertie, at an EU-funded official inauguration ceremony in the countryside, reacted saying 'this hotch-potch  means that none of them have any shame, coherence, principles or values'. 'These are the fascists and communists all in the same bag'. 'They have been together for the last 30 or so years (the time Bertie has been in power) and from time to time they do a clown act like this'. 'Although its not a laughing matter, because Madeira has many problems, the truth is that I have to laugh when I see fascists and communists and the whole mixture together, all of them totally shameless'.

Bertie is plainly totally off his rocker!

terça-feira, 29 de maio de 2012

PSD Youth Leader Resigns

José Pedro Pereira, the 'charismatic' leader of the PSD-Madeira Youth, popularly known as Mijinhas due to an episode when he allegedly peed on a police car, resigned from his leadership position today.

Pereira is a die-hard fan of Jardim and an advocate of Madeiran independence who tried endearingly hard to emulate his mentor's loutish and violent style. His taking of Bertie's theatrics at face value and his clumsy over-enthusiasm, however, often had the embarrassing - and admittedly very funny effect - of hyperbolizing Bertie's rhetoric and exposing the ridicule of his 'dramas'.

The resignation follows the controversy over a press release insulting his Socialist counterpart. The press release was issued by the secretary of the PSD Youth, Candelária - who denied its authorship, repudiated its content and resigned from the organization in protest.

In his resignation statement, Mijinhas said he would be return to politics stronger and more mature  - to lead the PSD and become future President of the Madeiran Government.

Last week, one of his underlings from the Youth movement was convicted for defaming the PND member Gil Canha during the 2009 election campaign - he had been holding a banner saying: Canha, escape to Brasil, the Venezualean justice is after you.

Bertie Skips Motion of No Confidence

The regional parliament, today, was set to debate a motion of no confidence proposed by the Socialist Party. The President of the Regional Government, who never goes to Parliament, simply ignored the debate, sending a single junior member of his executive to represent the Government.

In view of the Government's absence, the Socialists withdrew the motion, calling on the President of Portugal to either dissolve parliament or ensure the Government is present at such debates, as would be the norm in a real democracy.

Jardim called the motion of no confidence 'an episode of political terrorism mounted against the President of the Regional Government.' 'This folklore on the part of small parties aims to disturb government, through constant intentions to summon us to Parliament, when the government members are far too busy concentrating on the more important challenges of the future of the Madeiran people.' -  Bertie was due to be giving a talk to pupils of a school in Curral das Freiras. Too busy to be accountable to Parliament then...

domingo, 27 de maio de 2012

The Government’s 1878 Hidden Bills

Source: Expresso

A Court Auditor’s Report concludes that the Madeira hidden debt was the result of the deliberate actions of five members of Jardim’s Government: Santos Costa, Secretary in charge of Public Works between 2000 and 2011; Ventura Garçês, the Secretary of Finances, and another three subordinates.

The audit uncovered that the hidden debt corresponded to 1878 bills, almost all related to public construction projects build between 2003 and 2010. The issuing and registering of the bills had been successively put on hold.

The conclusions point to grave infractions in terms of not reporting  to the National Statistics Institute and the Budget Directorate General, as required by law. Those responsible are therefore liable to criminal prossecution (hardly likely in Portugal).

Those responsible alledged they had difficulty in circulating documents between the services, also blaming their computer programs for delays in issuing and registering bills. The Court Auditors were not convinced.

Such excuses, the report reads, could never  justify discrepancies to the order of seven hundred million Euros over seven years, particularly since there were several moments every year which obliged the Secretariat to make a balance of the budgetary and financial situation of the Secretariat.   

810 million of the 862 million unpaid debt, hidden over the years, relate to construction projects. A further 404 million correspond to interest on arrears owed to twelve builders – the result of extravant clauses in the contracts relating to delays in payment.

The hidden debt was successively regularized with the builder in 2008, 2009 and 2010 without ever setting a limit on the interest in arreas. Just in the period of six months between December 2010 and June 2011, the interest grew by 40 million. One of the violations of the Budget Law denounced by the audit relates precisely for the lack of justification for the accumulation of interest.

Why should Madeiran’s pay for this scam. The construction companies were in on the scam and did very nicely out of it, making sure they kept Bertie in power to ensure the money kept rolling in and that he would keep them happy with lots of new construction projects – to be inaugurated during the election campaign.The constructors – who are all heavily linked to Jardim and Jaime Ramos – should also be held criminally responsible for playing along in hiding the debt, duping the electorate to keep benefitting from the Jardim dictatorship.

quarta-feira, 23 de maio de 2012

The Bacelar Case

This law case reports to the nineteen nineties. It could seem an apparently innocuous case about a civil servant who illegitimately claimed large amounts of money for expenses, the unusual is that the the Public Prosecutor's charges were initially made against nine members of the government hierarchy, right up to the Secretary of Finances.

The story: Bacelar was an elderly civil servant who worked in the Financial Inspectorate and was reluctantly persuaded to become its director, despite being uneager and underqualified. While the former was perceived by the powers that be as a bonus, the latter presented a problem: Bacelar could not legally earn a director's salary. A solution was found to keep him sweet. He would be paid the difference in expenses for work trips to the next door island of Porto Santo - journeys he never made… he was obliging enough to sign in for work in Madeira, while he was officially away for work in Port Santo… Although the whole hierarchy was in on the scam, indeed they had thought it up and implemented it, only Bacelar was eventually convicted - the judge dropped the charges against the eight other accused before the trial began.

The story behind the story. The Financial Inspectorate had the task of checking on various matters, among them imports, smuggling and counterfeit goods - the services had recently been regionalized - and the Regional Government had a problem: Bacelar's predecessor, João Alberto Freitas, was rather keen on his duties. He sunk his teeth into the scam of importing out-of-date meat from the EU, unfit for consumption, which was relabeled and sold on the local market. He repeatedly inspected the Patio restaurant, then owned by the all-powerful Jaime Ramos, and was told by his superiors, in no uncertain terms, to back off. 

João Alberto didn't back off. He was removed from duty, subjected to disciplinary proceedings (filed by Bertie's pal Guilherme Silva) and sent to stew in a rat poison warehouse. Still having faith in the 'great leader', he wrote him a letter denouncing the whole situation. This coincided with the period after the silver exhibition was stolen from the Regional Parliament and the regime was shaken by corruption scandals. Bertie John, ever the actor, called on all those who wished to denounce corruption to write to him personally. 

By the time João Alberto Freitas wrote his third denunciation letter, his patience was wearing thin and the language he used also - the great leader flaunted the third letter as evidence that the man had never been quite right in the head. Of the corruption letters campaign, Bertie was to say that he had received 300 letters in all, but only one had talked about corruption. His Government was as clean as a whistle!

But the Bacelar case moved on, and however much the powers that be denied it, it was clear that the whole hierarchy had approved the illicit payment scheme - essentially to have someone docile on the job. The priority, Government wisdom preached, was to enlighten business people, not to inspect them. But why spend five months a year enlightening the business community of Porto Santo, where there were only a handful of businesses?

The Court Auditor's report was crystal clear,  apart from the detail that Bacelar had signed in for work in Funchal when he was officially away, there were no documents, tickets or bills to support the payments for Bacelar's obviously fictitious Porto Santo trips! The hierarchy, right up to the Secretary had to be in on the scheme! Bacelar was a bozo: useless, dispensable, a scapegoat. 

The remarkable and unusual aspect of this case is that the Public Prosecutor actually contested the judge's decision to drop the charges against the other eight accused - the only ones who had the power and the means to implement the scheme.   

The lesson: there are three legs to the Portuguese justice system, each presents an opportunity for Bertie to knobble it.

Commission of Election condemns Jornal for the 4th time

The National Commission of Elections has for the fourth time determined that the Jornal's coverage during the election period was biased in favor of the PSD. THE FOURTH TIME.

The case has been sent to the Public Prosecutor's office for criminal procedures. Will the Public Prosecutor's Office take any action? I hope the case is not given again to Assistant Prosecutor Gameiro, since there is a conflict of interests - friendships.

domingo, 20 de maio de 2012

Ex-Mayor of Santana Condemned for Malfeasance

Carlos Pereira, ex-Mayor of Santana and Abel Almada, City Councillor were both condemned to suspended sentences of three and a half years and three years respectively, for malfeasance.

The sentences were suspended on condition that they pay 20,000 and 10.000 Euros respectively, to four charities. 

The case reported to the government-funded tennis court, built by a local club on the grounds of a private hotel. The charges that the whole operation was a scam were dropped, thus absolving Jaime Lucas, former head of the Madeira Sports Institute - now a local MP for the PSD. 

The Mayor and Councillor were convicted for having allowed the court to be built without a license. They alleged that government projects did not require a municipal license, ignoring the fact that the Sports Club was the entity in charge of the project. 

The sentence read: The illegality of the conduct of the accused is serious, because in their anxiety to legalize a project, with the sole aim of allowing it to be inaugurated one week before the 2004 regional elections  to the benefit of the parties involved, they neglected the minimum basic rules of procedure.

Jardim reacted to the sentence insinuating that the two were convicted due to the political bias of the judges and that the convictions would be overturned on appeal.

He may be right in that the sentence may be overturned. The judges, far from showing political bias, had already thrown out the more damaging charges of fraud, letting Lucas, Candelária and other PSD henchmen off the hook; what remained were minor charges. 

Shades of the Bacelar case….(more on that later)

New Law for for Foundations will impact Madeira PSD Foundation

The new law for foundations, passed last week through the Portuguese Parliament will have great impact on the Madeira PSD Foundation, particularly as regards transparency. The local PSD foundation owns circa 56 buildings which it then leases to the Party's local branches. The new law obliges the foundation to divulge its annual account on the net and who are its donors.

For years, the Foundation has been subject of controversy for its total lack of transparency, for the apparent incompatibility of its office-holders (Jardim, Jaime Ramos and his right hand men), for the question mark over its donors and for its dubious charitable status. 

The foundation's charitable action was to hand out scholarships for higher education, but most of its activities were clearly political - even the scholarships, some youths complained, were granted under pressure to join the Social-Democrat Youth Party. The Foundation had recently stopped grant payments due to alleged lack of funding, so what still justifies its 'public utility' status?

Miguel Albuquerque, the Mayor of Funchal resigned from the Foundation last month. 

The law comes too late help us understand the glory years of the foundations when dozens of earth-laden trucks from all the big construction companies went to dump their loads in the foundation's landfill, in the huge forested area they bought in the mountains… Nevertheless, transparency may dictate the end of the Foundation, or at any rate, its current usefulness to Bertie's Party.

quinta-feira, 17 de maio de 2012

PSD abandons Parliament over vote of condolences for EuroMP Miguel Portas

The CDS party yesterday presented a vote of condolences in memory of the recently deceased EuroMP Miguel Portas. The vote was boycotted by PSD parliamentary leader, Jaime Ramos, who abandoned the session, followed by a number of PSD MPs.
This is the second time in the last month that the PSD walked out of a parliamentary session. The previous occasion occurred when an opposition MP requested the floor to defend his honour. This time, however, only a handful of MPs followed Ramos out, his son and a number of other MP’s remained.
The opposition, apart from the CDS, also abandoned the Parliament two days ago in protest at the absence of the Government who never appear to defend the diplomas they send for Parliamentary approval.
The chair of the Parliament adopts a dual criteria for dealing with these protests. When the PSD abandons the session, he calls for a break; when the opposition walks out, the session carries on as usual. The most notorious occasion was when all the opposition walked out in protest over a PSD motion to have then Socialist opposition leader’s mental sanity examined by a medical board. The PSD then proceeded to vote through 17 motions in 15 minutes.

segunda-feira, 14 de maio de 2012

Jardim's 'Summer University' disciple accused of swindle

The former chair of the Porto Santo Chamber of Commerce (ACIPS) is being accused of fraud. Castro resigned earlier this year, having headed the organization for the last eighteen years. 

Castro is a regular brown-nose in Jardim's 'Summer University'. During the summer holidays, Jardim gathers a coterie of heavy-duty sycophants (no lightweights), who trail him along the Porto Santo beach from his official residence to the University campus - otherwise known as the Bar do Henrique. The classes consist of taking cheap cracks at national politicians and the opposition, shouting revolutionary songs and slogans, shoveling in as much lobster and other seafood delicacies as possible and behaving like six year-olds. 

The bill for the merry gathering (the restaurant is taken over for the proceedings) is sent to a public  company (e.g. the Electricity company) -  or even better, to a private company that curries (or needs to curry) favor with the regime. At the end of the session, the merry men sing the University's anthem: 'There is only one leader, Jardim and none other! ' 
Castro is accused of swindling a company with regards to a European funding application. Since ACIPS did not have the money to co-fund the project in question, the private company allegedly paid ACIP's share, but were not repaid the amount when the funding eventually came through.

Castro had already been in the juridical limelight for his own companies having cost the region over 3 million Euros. The Government had guaranteed his company (why, no one knows!) and had to fork out the guarantees when things got messy.

Jardim's reign has been one big long party...

sexta-feira, 11 de maio de 2012

Unpaid expropriations in Ribeira Brava

Rafael Sousa, CDS-PP city councillor in Ribeira Brava challenged President Jardim to tell the population when he will pay for the expropriations of the land used for the new bridge at Ribeira da Fajã. Many owners have not been compensated for the land the government has expropriated and the councillor urged Jardim to make use of the inauguration ceremony to enlighten the owners.

Jardim reacts to Expresso through cartoon

'The Expresso is set against Madeira'...'Almost nobody here buys the main newspaper of the "termites"'

The Expresso is owned by Pinto Balsemão, former Portuguese Prime Minister and PSD leader.

The "termites" or "white ants" are a term Jardim uses to qualify those he also designates as 'undesirable', 'marginal', 'criminal' elements of the 'old soceity'. He often urges the population to 'erradicate' these undesirables and run them out of town.

Rui Fino, former deputy editor of the Jornal, purged in 2000 for complaining about the Government's constant control and interference of the newpspaper's editorial line, identified Jardim as being the author of the the cartoon's captions.

segunda-feira, 7 de maio de 2012

Jaime Ramos and the Hidden debt investigation

The  Expresso weekly reported that Jaime Ramos is business partner of two of the construction companies who are creditors of the Regional Government in the 1.1 billion of hidden debt.

As is well known, Jaime is chair of the Cimentos Europa, in which he owns a 22,5% stake. AFA, Tamega and Zagope are the other shareholders.

Jaime Ramos and his son, Avelino Faria (AFA) and Tamega are also equal shareholders in Ecoram, a waste-treatment company.

Jaime Ramos and son are 100% shareholders in the tarmac supply company AECP-Asfaltos, Emulsões e Combustíveis.

(Nobody knows who the owner of the AFA shares owned Offshore are)

AFA, Tamega and Zagope are on the list of hidden debt credit which is being investigated by the Central Investigation Department in the operation designated 'Cuba Livre'. The investigation is on whether members of the government hid the debt from the Bank of Portugal and the Institute of Statistics on Purpose, a crime punishable with a one year jail sentence (which will lead nowhere since it is not severe enough to oblige the lifting of their parliamentary immunity! - just like the election violations!).

According to the Court Auditors, some of the debt (in 2009) reported to construction projects completed in 2003, but not billed until 3 or 4 years later. The Government had made a secret deal with the constructors to pay them in installments up until 1914, but never reported the debts.

There seems to be an obvious collusion between Bertie, Ramos and his construction partners in hiding the debt to keep Bertie in power and ensure his program of public construction would continue to drive huge sums into their pockets.

We used to joke about the 'Cement Lobby', but in this case, there is no need for a lobby since they are directly represented in Government. 

Investigation 'Yellow Clover'

A small horticultural plant supplier in S. Vicente, in the North of Madeira, received over 3 million Euros from the Government for removing debris following the 20th February 2010 floods.

Although it had no license for this type of work, the government adjudicated the company 3,1 million Euros for helping in the clean-up operation. The companies profits rose from 2,7 thousand euros in 2009 to 1.589 million Euros in 2010. The company only changed its license, to enable it to carry out construction work etc, after it had received the government contracts.

The company received eight government contracts in all, for works all over the island. The Court Auditor's Report writes that the adjudication took place verbally on the very day of the floods. The Auditors drew attention to the fact that there is no register of the works having been followed by an inspector and the only  basis to verify the value of the bills is the information supplied by the company.

This is  one of the cases that the Public Prosecutor is investigating at the Secretariat of Public Works.

The requirement for public enders was waived due to this being an emergency situation. However, when the national Reconstruction Funding package for Madeira (known as the Lei de Meios) was put together, this rule continued, which meant that works done weeks and even months later were approved along the same lines. Worse, the amount of 1080 million finance package for reconstruction was based on a so-called survey of the damages incurred, which amounted to a single page of a seven page report. The reconstruction funding was a blank cheque for the Jardim Government to do as it pleased; reconstruction money was soon being diverted for new projects.

A quarter of the bailout goes to public companies

The Regional Government is loaning 259 million Euros of the bailout money to the bankrupt government-owned development societies: 96 million for the Western Development Society, 63,4 for the Metropolitan development society; 61 million for the Porto Santo Development Society, 22,8 million for the Northern Development Society and 15,2 for the Industrial Parks Society.

'Público' 4th May

domingo, 6 de maio de 2012

Jornal's veiled bomb threat to Journalists

The Jornal da Madeira issued a veiled bomb threat to the journalists Tolentino Nobrega of the Publico and Lilia Bernardes of the Lisbon Diário de Notícias.

The threat came in the anonymous daily cartoon Boca Pequena, which is often used by President Jardim to send messages promising retaliations, expropriations and inciting violence against particular targets. Once the threats have been carried out, they are complimented by a 'you had been warned message' in a follow-up cartoon.

In this cartoon, published on the 2nd of May, one character accused the two journalists of writing things against Madeira, the other replied that they would have to escape to the mainland 'after John's birthday'. The latter was the codeword for the FLAMA separatist terrorist movement's blowing up of the regional radio station in 1975.

The reference is common knowledge to all those who lived through this period, particularly to people such as Tolentino, who himself escaped a car bomb attack in those dark years of Jardim's rise to power.

quarta-feira, 2 de maio de 2012

Transparency, Debt and limit of Mandates

The Public Prosecutor's Office has denied it has found any new hole in the Madeira accounts, but does this invalidate the readings that the debt may now be over 8 billion? No, or rather, we simply don't know. It seems to be a simple game of semantics.

And why don't we know? Because there is no democratic system of check and control. The Parliament, does not function. The Government never goes there and on the rare occasions it does so, goes there on its own terms: it does not provide the requested information and allows no debate. It simply appears to make speeches. Last summer, for instance, the Secretary of Finances went to the Parliament to say the regional debt amounted to little over 1 billion; weeks later it had to admit that is was over 6 billion.

There is absolutely no transparency in the Madeira accounts and none of the State entities, Parliament, Justice System, Public Prosecutor's Office, function in way resembling those of a Democracy.

Why, is the President of the Government of the Autonomous Region of Madeira the ONLY elected post without a limit of mandates? Simply because the whole Democratic system has been screwed and manipulated to perpetuate the power and the abuse of power of one man - a man who cannot be held accountable to Parliament - or any other institution, for that matter - and who now spends his Sunday mornings preaching his theories to churchgoers in the churchyard after Sunday mass.

Many journalists and politicans absurdly refer to him as Europe's longest serving elected leader. There can be no comparison since no elected leader in Europe can serve for more than two or three terms in office ... and this rule is made precisely to prevent corruption and chronyism and so that noone can stay in power long enough to manipulate the whole system in his favour - to perpetuate himself in power (with abundant election violations from which he is imune from prosecution!).

domingo, 29 de abril de 2012

Expresso Demistifies Government Debt Denial

The Secretary of Finances had denied this week that the Madeira Debt had reached 8 billion Euros. According to the Expresso, the contested 2 billion disparity relates to the Public-Private enterprises, for the companies exploring the regional roads.

Of the 2 billion total accorded with the concessions, 600 million had been paid up until 2010. Although there is an annual fee for the Government to pay, this is only considered a debt (according to EU Comission criteria) if the Government defaults. According to the Secretary of Finances, the default in December 2011 only amounted to 170 million Euro.

The Via Expresso and Via Litoral partnerships were established in 1999 and 2004 and will oblige the Government to pay them a further 1.3 billion between 2012 and 2029.

In short, the Government has contracted debts of over 8 billion Euros, but only consideres 6 billion to be in debt.

The Via Litoral, set up in 1999, has as its main shareholder AFA, owned by Avelino Farinha Agrela (and unidentified offshore shareholders).

Via Expresso, formed in 2004, has Tamega as a main shareholder. The most important regional construction companies are sharehodlers in both.

(The main companies are also shareholders along with the PSD leader, Jaime Ramos, in Cimentos Europa, the company that supplies most of the cement to the public works in Madeira)

Jaime Ramos, Secretary General of the PSD and PSD Parliamentary leader, is also President of the Construtors Association - ASSICOM; Avelino Farinha Agrela (AFA) is the chariman of the ASSICOM General Assembly.

The Institute of Fianacial Administration, in its September 2011 report, alerted that these contracts were highly profitable for the private entities with no risk involved.

quinta-feira, 26 de abril de 2012

Operation 'Cuba Livre'

The Public Prosecutor's Office carried out a search operation on the Madeira Government Building in charge of public construction works on Monday. The building was sealed off by Police all day while the search ensued. The raid is part of an investigation into Madeira's debt.

Lisbon papers reported that a further 2 billion Euro hole was found in unreported debt, including works that had already been carried out, but had simply never been billed as the government had requested builders not issue the bills until given the OK. The Regional Secretary of Finance has denied all  reports of unreported debt - he also denied the 6 billion Euro debt in the first half of 2010, which he was later unable to hide. 

Reacting to the news, Bertie's Party Youth leader, José Pedro Pereira MP, better know as Mijinhas (for having pissed on a Police car) , called for Madeirans to revolt and declare independence: 

'Along the years we have seen successive national governments, of all [political] colors, launch constant attacks on the Autonomous Region of Madeira. They are filled with envy and hatred due to the development we have attained! I think the next revolution will be the revolt of the Madeirans, to tell the Portuguese Republic that if they carry on along this path of constantly attacking Madeira, it will be better for us to fight for independence! ' - now who does that remind one of?