Carnage

540 wild animals shot – a super record, the hunters said

Just before Christmas, on December 17, over 540 deer and wild boar were brutally slaughtered by 16 Spanish hunters in a walled estate in Azambuja to make way for a gigantic solar energy park with an investment of 170 million euros.

‘It was a massacre’ declared Silvino Lúcio, vice-president of the Azambuja town council. ‘This can’t be called a hunt. Those animals had no way of escape as they were confined within the property walls.’

The hunt was organized at the Quinta (walled estate) Torre Bela by the Spanish organisation Hunting Spain Portugal Monteros de la Cabra, that yearly organises hunts in Spain and Portugal.

A shocked minister of environment Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes immediately withdraw Torre Bela’s hunting licence, stating that the organizers, the owners and possibly the hunters who took part, will most probably be prosecuted by the Public Ministry.’

In a joint statement, various environmental organizations called on the minister not only to implement his decision to review the hunting law but to also solve the inexistence of proper inspection to prevent crimes against nature.


An outraged political party PAN – Party for Animals and Nature – wondered in despair, how it was possible that no official public entity had received any forewarning about the indiscriminate hunt in the ancient estate.

It is unclear whether the bloody incident will affect the installation of 650.000 solar panels at the estate, an area described by the local paper Valor Local in September as ‘forest and agricultural land equivalent to 775 football pitches.’

Pending the investigation by the Public Ministry, the government has instructed APA – the Portuguese environment agency – to immediately suspend its evaluation of the environmental impact study for the solar project and start a thorough investigation into the facts.

Some days after the culling hit the headlines, the owners of the estate issued a statement – through their spokesmen – that they had absolutely nothing to do with the hunt and had heard about the barbarity only through the media.

Journalists’ attempts to discover the identity of the owners have raised questions. There are rumours that the real owner is Isabel dos Santos – the former first daughter of Angola – now immersed in the Luanda Leaks scandal. In fact, nobody seems to know for sure. The only thing clear is that whoever owns Torre Bela prefers to stay anonymous.

Stay healthy                          Fique saudável             (pic Públic/EsqNet)








Democracy

After years of EU support, Portugal is still a backward country’

What is the state of Portugal’s democracy in the year that centre-left prime minister António Costa took over the European Chairmanship and centre-right president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was re-elected on a second term in office with a clear 61% of the votes.  

The PM holds the most executive power.The directly elected president has a more deliberative role as a warden of the constitution and head of the armed forces. The president also has the power to delay legislation, dissolve parliament and call for new elections. He or she ratifies international treaties, calls referendums and declares states of emergency.

Since it’s return from dictatorship to democracy in 1974 (Carnation Revolution), Portugal has a stable parliamentary democracy with a multiparty system and regular transfer of power between the two largest parties, the Socialist party (PS) and the Social democrats (PSD).

A new, anti-immigration and far-right party Chega ( ‘Enough’ ), however, is on the rise. Representing only 1% of the electorate in the 2019 elections – sufficient to gain a first-ever seat in Parliament – its leader André Ventura became third in the recent presidential elections with 12% of the votes, just behind the socialist veteran Ana Gomes.

Ventura’s performance makes clear that he has emerged as a political force in Portugal and in this year’s upcoming municipal elections his ultranationalist and xenophobic party – by many viewed as fascist – is looking like a serious popular choice.

International studies praise the country for its political freedom and civil liberties. The Freedom House Research Institute in Washington DC ranks Portugal 10th globally and the Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Institute at the University of Gothenburg even 7th. Higher than say the UK or Germany but lower than the Scandinavian countries.

Portugal legalised abortion in 2007 and same-sex marriage in 2010. Parliament voted in January this year in favour of euthanasia, bringing the new law a step closer.

Although domestic violence remains a problem, perhaps the most serious concern is corruption involving bankers, judges and high ranking politicians. Other democratic worries include abusive conditions for prisoners, persistent racism – especially with the uniformed forces – and discrimination of the Roma.

On the Global Democracy Index 2020 – drawn up annually by the Economist – Portugal fell from a ‘full’ to a ‘flawed’ democracy, mainly due to restrictions imposed by the pandemic, a reduction in parliamentary debates and lack of transparency in the spending of EU recovery funds.

According to European Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform Elisa Ferreira, Portugal is still a backward country. In an online debate she emphasized that the billions to help the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic must be radically different from the past. ‘It has to be much more environmental, more digital and much more socially balanced’, she stated.

She further pointed out that the GDP per head in Portugal is extraordinary low. and that ‘no matter how much Lisbon grows, the rest of the country is too far behind to allow Portugal to take off.’

Stay healthy                          Fique saudável            (pic Público/Sapo)