Portugal sells EU citizenship to corrupt millionaires, while thousands of refugees are knocking in vain on Europe’s door.

The waiter in restaurant São Pedro do Estoril speaks with that typical melodious accent. ‘You are right’, Liandro says. ‘I’ am not from here but from Belo Horizonte in Brazil. If I can keep up working in Portugal for five years, I’m allowed to apply for a passport and work all over Europe. The work is good and the people are nice, but I don’t know if I can miss my family back home that long. Deus é que sabe (God only knows).’

For wealthy people, there is a far much easier way. Portugal’s ‘golden residence permit’ – visto gold – requires an investment of 500,000 euros in property in exchange for permanent residency and visa-free travel through Europe’s Schengen area.

According to the government two-thirds of the more than 5000 ‘golden visas’ – issued since 2012 – have been to Chinese applicants. In recent years however, the number of Brazilian and  African investors is rising. The program has already generated more than 3 billion euros.

Real estate has long been attractive to criminals due to the potential to launder large quantities of cash. Last week the British newspaper the Guardian, together with the Portuguese weekly Expresso, published in a leaked document a list of corrupt Brazilian business executives and relatives of Angolan politicians – being accused of bribery – who had secretly bought access to Europe via Portugal’s visto gold scheme.

One of them is Otávio Azevedo, former president of Brazil’s second-largest construction company, Andrade Gutierrez. He received an 18-year sentence last year, after admitting a string of corruption offenses. Two years before his arrest he bought a € 1.4 million property in Lisbon and subsequently applied for a golden visa in 2014.

Another is Sergio Lins Andrade, chairman and main shareholder of the same company, who in 2014 acquired a Lisbon property worth € 665,000 through the golden visa program. He is estimated by Forbes to be worth $ 1.5 billion.

Relatives of the Angolan vice president Manuel Vincente – until 2012 chief executive of the country’s state oil company Sonagol – are also mentioned in the document. Vincente faced allegations earlier this year when he tried to bribe a Portuguese magistrate in order to suppress an investigation into corruption at Sonagol.

In a statement, the government said its golden visa scheme ‘strictly follows all legally established security procedures’. The European Commission already announced an investigation into all the golden visa programmes in the EU.


‘Portugal is one of the most racist countries in the EU’ – European Social Survey

– ‘No one has ever said to me that I could not rent the house because I’m black

Mamadou Ba is born in Senegal and has the Portuguese nationality. He is graduated, has a steady job at the Parliament, and speaks with a slight African accent. When he is calling for an apartment in Lisbon’s Parque das Nações neighborhood, he gets an appointment 2 days later. Although the tenant promises him to send an SMS with additional information, he never does. If shortly thereafter a journalist of the newspaper Público– with a Portuguese name and a Lisbon accent – calls the same tenant, he immediately gets the necessary information by phone and an appointment for the next day. In only two out of five phone calls, Mamadou and the journalist were treated the same way.

– ‘It’s hard for blacks to find a job. There’s always a preference for whites.’

Amélia Costa is born in Guinee-Bissau and in possession of a Portuguese passport. When submitting her application for a management position, she doesn’t include a photo in her CV. After a call from the director of Human Resources, she is invited to an interview.
On entry, the director stares at her in amazement. ‘Apparently, he was expecting someone else’, she says.
The interview is going well and Amélia gets the job. When she asks the director at a later stage, why he looked so surprised when they first met, he says ‘the person I called and the person I met, didn’t seem to be the same’. ‘Since you speak without an accent, I didn’t expect you to be a black person. If you had submitted a photo with your CV, I probably would never have called you for an interview’, he confessed.
‘In Portugal, you hardly come across black people in leading positions or in the media. You’ll find them back office, in factories, kitchens, and supermarkets. We are not even given a chance to get to know us’, she explains.

– ‘The presence of black lecturers in the academic community is nil

‘It isn’t true that social class eliminates racism.
‘If I come somewhere, where I’ am the only black person, I will be discriminated.
It’s no question of social discrimination, it’s the color of the skin’.
‘I’ll give you some examples’, she explains in Público.

‘When I return at the airport from a trip abroad, they often direct me to the line for Non-European passports and my luggage is nearly always checked by customs’. ‘Once I entered a meeting and heard a colleague – a bit too loud – say: ‘I don’t understand what that black one is doing here.’
And something that happened to me recently in the Santa Marta hospital, when I asked for a particular department and someone showed me the way. ‘When you see an indication that says Outpatients, you turn right – can you read?’
Inocência Mata is the only black professor in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Lisbon, where she is teaching since 1990.


‘There are nurses who don’t care anymore if they are fired’ – Ana Rita Cavaco.

In the week that Apple presents its newest iPhone X with face recognition, Portuguese nurses show their faces in a 5-day strike, as the climax in a dragging conflict between the nursing trade union (SEP) and the Minister of Health – Adalberto Campos Fernandes – who promptly called the strike ‘illegal and immoral.’

‘We are still counting, but everything indicates, that an overwhelming majority – over 90% – of the nurses are supporting this action’, says José de Azevedo, leader of the SEP on the first day of the strike.

The conflict with the Ministry of Health already started before summer, when nurse specialists – in particular, the midwifery professionals – asked for a higher salary that, as a result of the country’s economic cutbacks in 2009, had been frozen for 8 years.

There are about 6000 nurse specialists working in the country, comprising nurses in mental health, pediatrics, rehabilitation, surgery and community health. Midwifery nurses are the biggest group, most of them working in the Obstetric departments of hospitals.

The number of qualified nurses in Portugal is – with 1 in 200 inhabitants – one of the lowest in the EU.
‘There is a lack of 30.000 nurses in the country and sick leave has doubled to 10% over the last two years’, says Ana Rita Cavaco, president of the Portuguese Nurse Association.

‘We have proposed the Ministry to train 3000 additional nurses over the next 10 years. That would cost the Government 65 million euro – a mere 0,6% of the health budget – but we are still waiting for an answer.’

Nurses in Portugal earn a salary of 1200 euros gross per month – twice the minimum wage – irrespective their experience or additional training.
It is therefore not surprising that more than 15.000 of them have left the country in search for greener pastures [Diaspora ], in particular England, where nurse specialists earn nearly twice as much.

Apart from low wages, nurses also criticize the lack of career perspectives – that was canceled as well in 2009 – and demand the reintroduction of specializations, together with a gradual wage increase of 2400 euros per month over 3 years.

Finally, the nursing trade union claims a 35-hour working week for all nurses, whether they are specialized or not.

The Federation of Medical Specialists supports the nurses’ demands and announced in their turn a doctor’s strike of 2 days in October.

It is better to stay fit in Portugal this fall.

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                                                           (pictures Lusa)

Childhood exercise has a protective effect on health later in life.

While active childhood reduces obesity  ( Zwaargewichten) in the short term, long term benefits might even be more crucial. Recent studies show, that the more exercise children had during adolescence, the more likely they were to be successful professionally. The reason for this is, that fitness at a young age is directly related to the developing brain, which does not complete its formation until one’s 20s.
In addition, adolescents who regular exercise, are more motivated to exercise as adults.

2 in 3 Portuguese are endangering their health by not taking enough exercise, leading to serious health conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, cancers (breast and bowel), depression and dementia.

Walking for 10 – 20 minutes at a brisk pace every day (150 minutes a week is recommended), not just increases fitness and improves mood, but also reduces the risk of early death by 15%, according to the World Health Organization.
Walking requires no special skills or equipment and is acceptable for most people.

Cycling is a good alternative to using the car. It not only reduces traffic congestion but also benefits the environment and health. Regular cycling ( 45 km a week) cuts the risk of death from any cause by 40% and the incidence of heart disease and cancer by 45%.

But is cycling a realistic option in Lisbon, known as the city of seven hills?

The Lisboa Horizontal project calculated, that 65% (nearly 700 km) of its streets have less than 4% inclination and hence accessible by bike.

In June EMEL, the city’s transport body, introduced 100 public hire bikes – two-thirds of them electric –and 10 docking stations in the Parque das Nações neighborhood.

This number is to be extended to 1400 bikes – 950 electric ones to cope with the hilly parts –being installed in the flatter parts of Lisbon – the Plateau area, the touristic Baixa and along the waterfront of the Tagus river.

The biggest problem, however, isn’t hills but the prevailing car culture. Lisbon takes first place in all EU capitals when it comes to car use.
Moreover, Portuguese parking is incredibly selfish and vehicles regularly block cycle tracts, jeopardizing safe cycling.

Change is not easy for everyone to swallow. Last week local residents, in the Alvalade and Avenidas Novas neighborhoods, complained about losing parking places, forcing EMEL to remove 15 brand-new docking stations from the area.

A luta continua – the fight goes on!


Collectie Joan MIRÓ



– Palácio da Ajuda –

vanaf 7 september 2017