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Impairment

‘Assistance, work and independence’

‘We aren’t  2nd hand citizens!’

Last May, Joao Rodriguez – a 95% physically restricted and wheelchair dependent quadriplegic from Figueira da Foz – was happy his brother could bring him to Lisbon, to attend the nationwide demonstration of disabled people, demanding a raise in the budget for the Support Centres for Independent Living. Some protesters only send their shoes, as they were too physically impaired to personally attend the march in Lisbon.

Eduardo Jorge – quadriplegic, bedridden since age 28 and living in a nursing home – requires continuous care for 24 hours a day. He owns a house and wants to be cared for at home, but doubts if he will get there the  24/7 support, he desperately needs. He demonstrated last week outside Parliament in his bed.

Support Centres for Independent Living (CAVI) is a state-funded pilot project providing ambulatory assistance to disabled people older than 16 years, who are at least 60% physically impaired.

The intention of the government is to subsidize each centre with 1,4 million euros for a period of 3 years, by which the centre has to support 10 to 50 persons – 70% of them with assistance up to 40 hours a week and 30% for more than 40 hours ( to a maximum of 24 hours per day).

Far too little’, says Diana Santos, president of the Centre for Independent Living, who organized the demonstration in May.
‘At least 5 million is needed for each centre, especially if you want to help 50 people properly.’

In addition to a greater autonomy, pressure groups demand more jobs and better accessibility of public buildings and spaces.
Although Parliament already in 2004 adopted a law, obliging companies to employ a minimal number of disabled personnel – 5% in public institutions and 1% in private enterprises – in practice these numbers are far from being met. Unemployment among physically impaired people even increased by 24% between 2011 and 2017.

The Trade Union Association of Portuguese Judges (ASJP) declared in an open letter to the Minister of Justice this year, that at least 55 courts of law are not accessible for persons with reduced mobility and 74 more have architectural hurdles. There is a lack of specific facilities like parking lots, ramps for wheelchairs, adapted elevators and lavatories.
‘This really has to change, not only because it is legally required but also because of dignity, equality, and solidarity.’

BOAS FESTAS                            HAPPY HOLIDAYS              (pic Público/Sapo) 

 

 

 

Fairy tale

It’s like Lenin said: look for the persons who benefit and you will know.

Once upon a time, there was a friendly country, in the South of Europe bordering the Atlantic Ocean, that used to export cork, tinned sardines and cheap labor.

But back in 2008 things changed as a worldwide economic recession forced the country on its knees. No longer able to pay its government debt, it had to beg friends for help and borrowed a total of 76 billion from the IMF and the European Community.

These friends – that now had become creditors – demanded strict measures, that were enthusiastically implemented by the country’s then conservative government. It started raining austerities for many years and the people suffered.
There were massive cuts in education, health services, and social spending. Salaries plummeted, poverty increased and unemployment skyrocketed to a record 17% in 2013.

But at the end of 2015, the sun broke through the dark clouds and a brand-new socialist government – with the support of more radical parties like the Left Bloc and the Communist Party – came to power. Never before had a coalition of the Democratic Left-ruled the country. Not even in 1975, when the Carnation Revolution re-established democracy.

The message of the new government was crystal clear. Stop austerity measures and increase demand. ‘By refunding income to the people in a moderate way, people get confidence and investment returns’, explains economy minister Manuel Caldeira Cabral.
The new leaders promised to raise the minimum wage, pensions, and social security and a wealth tax was introduced on property valued over 600.000 euro.

And it worked. Two years after taking power the government is showing an economic growth of 2.5% – the strongest since the beginning of the recession – and a reduction of the deficit by half, lower than ever. Meanwhile, foreign investment jumped 13%, unemployment dropped below 10% and 17 billion (65%) of the loan from the IMF is repaid.

In one year 155.000 new jobs were created – a record in twenty years. Tourism and industry – in particular footwear– are booming and export increases more than import.

In two years’ time, Portugal has not only won the European Football Championship and the Eurovision Song festival for the very first time, it also increased public investment, reduced the deficit, beheaded unemployment and sustained economic growth.
It looks like fairy tales do exist.

BOM FIM DE SEMANA