Paint the grass the color you want, it will always be grass  –  Gypsy proverb

‘When other children discover that I am a gypsy, they start cursing and shouting that we are worth nothing’, says 11-year-old Lindinho Cambão. ‘But we are not really that bad.’

Prejudices about gypsies are very persistent. They are said to be stealing, begging, criminal and asocial.
Originating from Northern India, the Roma migrated some 500 years ago to the Iberian Peninsula where they are marginalized and discriminated ever since. In Nazi Germany, gypsies were exterminated in concentration camps, just as Jews and homosexuals.

‘If a gypsy takes a seat on the bus, his fellow passenger will anxiously hold his bag’, says Idália Serão, MP of the Socialist Party, whose grandfather was Roma. ‘Ethnic minorities – like gypsies and blacks – are excluded in our society and only become visible when problems occur.’ Parliament, university and media are overwhelmingly white.’

In Portugal, 80% of the estimated 50.000 Roma has no regular income and 60% lives on benefit. The youth is poorly educated. Only a third has completed primary school and 15% is illiterate (more girls than boys). Girls tend to marry very early– at the age of 13-15 years – and get their first baby on average at 19.

Housing is dramatic with 20-30% of the families living in precarious conditions. Neighbourhoods like Bairro das Murtas in the center of Lisbon – without water and electricity – and Bairro da Torre in Loures, on the outskirts of the capital, are famous in that respect.

An investigation by the FRA (Fundamental Rights Agency) amongst gypsies in Europe last year, revealed that nearly half of the Roma population in Portugal feels discriminated, most notably in the areas of public service, work, and healthcare.

Pedro Calado – High Commissioner for Migration – sees progress in the integration, albeit changes are slow. ‘Visits to crèches increase as well as women’s participation in literacy courses. More than 90% of the Roma families have a GP nowadays and the vaccination coverage in children is over 70%.’

Last year Leonor Teles, a 23-year-old Portuguese film director whose father is Roma, won with her Rhoma Acans ( Gypsy Eyes) in Berlin the Golden Bear Award for the best short film.

Bad people don’t sing  –  Gypsy proverb

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                      Have a great weekend


‘Senhor, senhor.’ João woke up, turned drowsy around and looked straight into the smiling face of a black man, who was waving with a bunch of sunglasses over his head. ‘Very cheap, very good.’ ‘Thanks, man, I don’t need anything’, João muttered turning back on his bath towel.

He was sleeping badly since that horrible peace mission operation in Mali last month when El Qaida had, completely unexpected, attacked the hotel in the capital Bamako and killed – besides a dozen of tourists – two of his best friends. Young guys still. Shame!
Fortunately, he had sat high and dry in a plane on his way home, when the raid occurred. Despite the fact that he – as a sergeant at the Air Force – had carried out numerous peacekeeping missions in war zones all over the world, he felt that the safest place on earth was high in the sky.

How lovely was this calm beach with the afternoon sun gently roasting his back, the rhythmic burbling of the surf nearby and the smell of salty sand. His thoughts wandered off how horrible it must have been to be confronted all of a sudden with a batch of terrorists storming the hotel, shouting Allah Akbar and killing as many people as possible.

Maybe this was a warning, that he should stop this kind of work and look for less risky employment. But an office job on the ground? No way! Was flight instructor perhaps a good alternative? After all, he had lots of experience after flying for more than 25 years. Besides, he was also getting older with his 56 years. His 83-year-old mother would love it to have him around. Especially since his father had passed away last year and she had moved from Lisbon to a smaller apartment in Caparica, near the beach.

Satisfied he fell asleep again, while he heard in the distance the familiar sound of an approaching airplane.

A 56-year-old sergeant of The Air Force was killed when a Cessna aircraft made an emergency landing on the São João da Caparica beach, 20 km to the south of Lisbon. ‘The plane hit the man as he sunbathed on a towel’, witnesses declared.

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                                             (photo Público)

‘If it were ever to rain soup, the poor would only have forks’ – Brazilian proverb

Poverty and disease go hand in hand, not only in so-called developing countries but also in more affluent societies.

‘The fact that 20% of the population has limited access to healthy food – due to financial constraints – has serious consequences’, says Helena Canhão, investigator at the Health Science Faculty of the New University of Lisbon.
‘A poor people’s diet of cheap and fast food leads to obesity and diabetes.’

Obesity is Portugal’s biggest Public Health problem [zwaargewichten].
More than half of the population is too heavy, 75% of the elderly and nearly a third of all children.
Obesity is more common in the poor and rural parts of the country, in particular the Alentejo province.

People with primary school only are 3 times more often obese than higher educated people, who are not only better informed, but also earn more and can afford a healthy diet with fresh nutrients.

‘That social inequality has an impact on health is beyond doubt.
People who have access to a Mediterranean diet are socially more privileged’, says Pedro Graça, director of the National Program for the Promotion of Healthy Nutrition.

The average Portuguese eats for two, meaning almost 4000 calories per person per day!
Not only is this far too much, the quality of food is also poor. It contains three times the recommended amount of meat, fish and eggs and only half the amount of vegetables.

And although Portuguese cherish their daily bowl of soup, it is often too salty. Moreover, the intake of alcohol and soda is considerable. Nearly a quarter of all men and at least 10% of women drink too much and half the population consumes soft drinks on a daily basis.

As a result of the obesity epidemic diabetes is very common and Portugal even has the highest prevalence of diabetes in Europe. One in every 7 citizens is affected and 25% of the people – who die in hospital – have diabetes. The risk to get the disease is four times higher in people, who haven’t completed primary school – a number twice as high in Portugal, than elsewhere in Europe.

‘We are wasting our money on the wrong side’, says Luis Correia, head of the Diabetes Observatory. Treatment of diabetes now devours 12% of our national health budget. It would be much cheaper to prevent the disease instead.’

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                    (photos Observador/SAPO)

“When it was the season aunt Emília used to sell roasted chestnuts outside the bar a little further down the street, on the corner of Rua Morais Soares and Rua dos Heróis de Quionga, got drunk on the proceeds, then could be found flat on her back on the bedroom floor with her skirts hitched up, singing loudly.”
(from: Small memories – José Saramago)

Portugal is a country of saints, giving rise to a good number of public holidays. November 1 is dedicated to All Saint’ Day (Todos-os-Santos) and November 11 to St. Martin (São Martinho) – the period in between is called Magusto, the traditional autumn festival. It is believed that the word ‘magusto’ comes from the Latin word ‘magnus ustus’, meaning ‘big fire’.

St. Martin’s Day is associated with the maturation of the year’s wine. It is a feast of Celtic roots that celebrates the end of summer and the start of winter.
The period is also quite popular, because of the usually good weather in this time of the year, called St. Martin’s Summer (Verão de São Martinho), that is tied to the legend of the saint.

Martin of Tours was a Roman soldier in the 4th century – later becoming bishop of Tours, in France – who cut his cape in half with his sword and gave it to a shivering beggar during a cold and rainy day. It is said that at that very moment the sun started shining again for three days.

Groups of friends and families celebrate these warm days in November outdoors and used to gather around a bonfire, where they roasted chestnuts directly in the fire drank água-pé (water-foot), jeropiga, new wine and danced and sang. It was customary for girls to bring the chestnuts and for boys to bring the wine.

Água-pé (water-foot) is a light alcoholic beverage made by adding water to crushed grapes – after the juice is pressed out for wine – and letting it ferment for several days. Jeropiga – a sweet and strong fortified wine – is obtained in a similar way by adding brandy(aguardente) to the mash (pomace) of grapes, instead of water.


É dia de São Martinho,                                                    It’s St.Martin’s Day,
comem-se castanhas, prova-se o vinho                       we’ll eat chestnuts and taste the wine

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                   ENJOY THE WEEKEND

 49  Rua de Xabegras


  November  4 – 26


‘Everywhere you go it’s buzzing and electric’ – Bloomberg

What do have the Portuguese António Guterres (Secretary-General United Nations), the Yemeni Tawakkol Karman (Nobel Peace Prize laureate), the American Al Gore (former vice-president), the Chinese Meng Hongwei (president of Interpol), the British Suzy Menkes (editor Vogue), the French Francois Hollande (former president), the Russian Garry Kasparov (former world chess champion), the Brazilian Julio Cesar (goalkeeper), the Irish Kenny Jacobs (CMO Ryanair), the Greek George Papandreou (former prime-minister) and the Saudi robot Sophia in common?

They are all speakers on the Web Summit 2017 (November 6-9), Europe’s largest technology and digital culture conference to be held in the Altice/MEO Arena in Lisbon (

In 2016 – when the summit was held in Lisbon for the first time – almost 53,000 people attended, including 20,000 companies and over 2000 journalists from 166 countries ( )

This year the event will be even bigger. Networking and pitches (selling ideas ) are keywords, getting to know each other and looking for investment.
Not only at the conference itself but also at the ‘night summit’ downtown.

But what has actually been the result of Web Summit 2016? Which international companies could be enticed to settle in the country? Which impulses were given to attract startups and young people, that are badly needed for the future of the local economy and the demographic equilibration in an aging population?

It is estimated that the 2016 Summit injected 200 million euros into the national economy.
However, half of it was absorbed by the local hotel industry and suppliers, directly linked to the event.

So, why another summit in Portugal? To promote more tourism? To sell the few digital companies to international investors, losing, even more, local know-how? Or serves the summit as a platform for people, who love to take selfies and posts on social media, saying ‘look at me how I succeeded to enter a place, where a ticket costs nearly € 1000 and industrial hotshots tell us how to gather fortunes?’

Ana Lehman, the Secretary of State for Industry, emphasizes the importance of the event and hopes the summit will remain in Lisbon for some years to come. She disagrees with the criticism. “You have to go there and see for yourself. We know dozens of companies that had contracts closed during the summit.”

BOM FIM DE SEMANA                                                       (photo’s Observador/Sapo)