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Portuguese report Portuguese report
by Euro Reporter
2010-06-28 09:33:59
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President defends Jose Saramago funeral no-show

Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva has defended his decision not to attend the funeral of Nobel Prize-winning author Jose Saramago. The author, who died aged 87, moved to Lanzarote in 1992 after government opposition to his controversial work The Gospel According to Jesus Christ.

Mr Silva was Prime Minister when the book was blocked from a literary prize.  The president said he was not at Saramago's funeral because he "had never had the privilege to know him".

In 1992, the right-wing Portuguese administration removed Saramago's name from the shortlist of candidates for the European Literary Prize, saying it was offensive to the country's Catholics.  Saramago, a communist and atheist, moved to the Canary Island - where he died on Friday - complaining of censorship.


Politicians look for high tension solution

Algarve-elected Socialist Party (PS) MPs have this week stressed the importance of the lines of communication remaining open to find a solution for the proposed Portimão-Tunes high tension line, so as to protect the best interests of both the population and the environment. Failure to do so will almost certainly result in a repeat of protests and hunger strikes that occurred back in 2007 against high tension lines.

The MPs’ position was affirmed during a parliamentary debate held this week, to discuss a new proposal for the ‘very high tension’ line planned to cross through the areas of Funcho and Arade, in Silves. At the request of the Portuguese Environmental Agency (APA) the debate was opened to the public. At the core of the debate was a document depicting the proposed stretch, though this does not have the “general consensus” of the local population.

A previous alternative proposal presented in an Environmental Impact Study (EIA) in 2009 did, however, have the local population’s approval, as well as the approval of Silves Town Hall and the National Electricity Network (REN). “We believed that a compromise for the implementation of the line had been reached amongst all parties involved, but faced with a new proposal we think new negotiations are necessary”, said MP Jamila Madeira. In the Algarve-elected MP’s opinion, “dialogue must allow for a balanced solution to be found, that will protect economic and environmental values as well as the welfare of the population”. The implementation of a ‘very high tension’ line in the Algarve was announced in 2007 and is intended to reinforce the supply of electricity to the Western Algarve. It suffered a series of protests and setbacks as locals contested the line crossing through their villages.


Algarve aims to be amongst top destinations for the disabled

Government and tourism officials have confirmed their intention to re-invent the Algarve as a leading destination for tourists with disabilities. The pledge was made during a seminar held in Faro last month, in which the renowned destination of Arona, Tenerife (Spain) was held as an example to be achieved by Portugal. Key participants in the seminar included Portugal’s State Secretary for Tourism, Bernardo Trindade, Ana Godinho, vice-president of TP – Tourism of Portugal, Dr. António Almeida Pires, vice-president of the Regional Algarve Tourist Board (ERTA), and Faro Mayor, Macário Correia. Guest speakers featured Paula Reis, a consultant for Accessible Portugal – a Portuguese travel agency dedicated to organising holidays for individuals with Restricted Mobility (RM) – and José Gil Duarte, a partner in project development and market research company RDPE.

In an interview with The Portugal News, held prior to the seminar, Dr. Pires confirmed the tourism board’s intention to improve facilities in the Algarve for disabled tourists. He explained that the aim was to make the region more accessible to visitors with restricted mobility and in turn welcome a sector that had previously been relatively excluded.“We are talking about numbers that from a tourism point of view are extraordinarily important and strategic to the Algarve” he had said, adding, “We must not be hypocritical; accessible tourism [could be] a whole community and an economic activity that has yet to reach its full potential”.

To highlight the matter the ERTA, in collaboration with the Portuguese Tourism Board, organized a first International Conference on Accessible Tourism, which was held last month. Speaking at the conference, Dr. Pires stressed “We will raise awareness about this project even if it means going door-to-door”.  State Secretary Bernardo Trindade made the most of a brief appearance to stress the importance of developing an all-inclusive tourism.

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