Ronaldo museum move. TAP strike. Christmas lights. Sócrates in custody.

CR7 Museum move a step closer

The Diario reports that the much rumoured move of the CR7 museum has taken another step forward. According to a source close to the Government, agreement has already been reached for the collection of trophies and memorabilia to move to the former headquarters of APRAM next to the Wasps club (pictured below) – facing the old harbour, immediately beneath the top of Santa Catarina Park and the Governors official residence. The idea is apparently to the liking of Cristiano Ronaldo himself and resolves the use of the old building, which is currently unoccupied. Work could start in the near future as the structure will need quite a bit of modification. The location is, of course, ideal for the museum, as it will be directly on the route taken by so many cruise ship passengers as they walk into Funchal from the pontinha. By a strange coincidence it also faces the Praça do Mar, a not entirely successful project on the site of the old container port that has been repeatedly rumoured to be the possible home of a Ronaldo/Pestana funded boutique hotel

Old building APRAM should welcome the CR7 Museum.  Photo Rui Silva / ASPRESS

Presumably there will be room to host even more trophies – his latest award was the BBC Overseas Sports Personality of the year at the weekend.

Ex-PM in custody

“The Week” magazine from the UK (excellent publication by the way – you can download an App and get a free trial) reports that Portugal’s former socialist Prime Minister, José Sócrates, has been arrested and remanded in custody on suspicion of tax fraud, corruption and money-laundering. Three associates, including his driver and his lawyer were also arrested at the end of last month. He became PM in 2005 and was voted out in 22011 after negotiating Portugal’s €78bn bailout from the Troika. The magazine notes that it is not clear whether the allegations refer to his time in office.

TAP strike

The Diario also reports today that as many as 6000 people could be prevented from visiting Madeira at the end of this month as a result of the proposed strike by the twelve TAP unions (see previous blog). The company has seven daily flights to the region from Lisbon, and two from Porto (where easyJet have just announced two new connections to Stuttgart and Luxemburg from June next year). However, the airline had strengthened their operations during the month of December and would have provided at least 12 daily connections between the mainland and Madeira for the days of the strike. There have been no further developments on calling-off the strike as far as I can establish.

Not everyone has access to Facebook so I have replicated a photo from the blogs Facebook site that created a lot of interest recently. The cruise ship was leaving Funchal a week ago.

rainbow ship

Christmas Lights

Speaking of social media, it appears that the much vaunted Facebook protest against the Christmas lights turned out to be an embarrassing failure. The organisers should be very careful that they do not damage the image of the island by publishing highly critical opinions before they see the finished project. A large part of this publicity centred on the claim that nearly 1000 Facebook users were planning to attend, but in the end only a handful showed up.
As reported here the lights have been a poorly managed effort this year, with a much smaller budget, but they have not been deserving of some of the near-hysterical reaction on social media that can adversely affect potential visitor’s opinion of an island that relies almost exclusively on tourism.

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TAP strike. Bird photos banned. Lights latest.

Festive flights fiasco

Thousands of passengers are having to rethink their travel plans over the festive period with unions representing all of TAP Portugal’s twelve different departments  deciding on Wednesday night in favour of strike action for a period of four days from 27 to 30 December. The move cannot  help the Government’s announcement last month that it has renewed its efforts to privatise the national flag carrier. Portugal’s Minister for the Economy, Pires de Lima, is to return from the States to attend last minute meetings but according to various press reports any hopes of a settlement around the negotiating table appear unlikely. In their joint statement, the unions said the strike action was aimed “at encouraging the Government to put the brakes on the privatisation process”. However, Pires de Lima, when questioned as to whether there was a possibility of the Government going back on its plans to privatise the airline, answered “that is not even a matter for consideration”.

The national airline took to social media yesterday to clarify its position on the matter. In a post in English on its Facebook page, the airline said: “TAP is aware, as communicated by the media, that a strike has been decided today. Still, we have not yet received any official notice from any union confirming this information. If and when the notice required by law is received, all the information will be communicated to our customers”. Due to the airline’s position, passengers with flights already booked for 27,28,29 and 30 December, are unable to make changes to their flights without incurring additional costs. Update below.

Birds of prey photos to stop

clip_image001

Just realised that I missed a bit of good news last week; Funchal Municipal Council has finally decided to prohibit the “traveling exhibitions of animals for commercial purposes” through the streets of the city. In other words they are outlawing the photos sold to tourists of them posing with various birds of prey, cruelly tethered on short leads. The local authority has claimed for some while that the eradication of a number of groups considered to be operating illegally has been a priority, but has now taken concrete steps to prohibit the activity, requesting the intervention of the Public Security Police (PSP). CMF has also tried to warn one operator specifically against  what is considered to be an "occupation of public roads to carry out an exhibition for commercial purposes" – Tiago Cardoso holds a license issued by the Natural Park of Madeira, which lets you keep captive animals, but this does not allow him to operate on the public road in the municipality. He has been asked to cease his activities and the Natural Park of Madeira appraised of the situation.

Christmas light controversy continues

Foto Hélder Santos/ASPRESSThe Diario reports that a demonstration against the perceived poor quality of the lights this year has now been organised for this Saturday on Facebook: As of early Friday, 714 say they will be attending.
Meanwhile the beleaguered Regional Secretary for Tourism and Transport, Conceição Estudante, who is held responsible for the controversial lights, will attend their official opening at 6.00pm today (Fri) at Infoart Space, Avenida Arriaga. Apparently more lights still have to be installed (see previous blog) – perhaps people are over-reacting too quickly? That would be not be good for the island as it just generates unnecessary negative publicity.

Update: the company installing the lights, Luzoesfera, has had its deadline extended to next Friday, 19th December. Conceição Estudante said yesterday that its failure was “very clear”, including using colours that were not specified. It has emerged, however, that the budget is only €98,000 this year compared to as much as €300,000 in previous years.

TAP strike update

The Portugal News reports that some deft work from Pires de Lima (see lead story above) on Friday afternoon gave hope to thousands of Christmas travellers pre-booked on TAP flights. The Economy Minster said after a meeting with the TAP multi-trade union group that he will know on Monday if his proposals have been accepted and whether the planned four day strike can be averted. Pires de Lima has proposed the creation of a working group to examine the concerns of TAP staff. A further announcement is possible over the weekend..

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Maritimo stadium opens. Christmas lights. Fuel prices down

Blog issues

Apologies to those who may have experienced slow access to the blog recently – the servers back in the UK suffered another “denial of service” attack from an unknown source. The huge number of malicious attempts to connect to the blog failed but affected access times. Don’t know why the blog attracts so much attention? I have also been told there are internet “trolls” targeting the blog and its associated Facebook site. Don’t know why a relatively uncontroversial publication attracts so much attention?

Stadium inaugurated

The Diario reports on the 1st phase of the remodelling of the Estádio do Marítimo in Barreiros being inaugurated yesterday by various dignitaries including the President of the Regional Government of Madeira (I understand Alberto João Jardim is a Marítimo supporter?). A considerable amount of money has been spent on two new stands and a recreational area (the work does seem to have been going on forever) – further improvements are planned to be completed next year. The Barreiros Stadium was owned by the Autonomous Region of Madeira and opened on May 05, 1957 with 12,000 people present. Not clear where ownership lies now? (Photo above:Helder Santos / Aspress)

Calheta lights up

Leaving aside the controversy over the quality of the Christmas lights in Funchal this year, portaldacalheta reports that the town is now looking duly festive. Back in Funchal, the Diario reports that Christmas lights were installed on the (Rapida) bridge over Ribeira de João Gomes at the weekend. The annual “Luna Park” fair at Praia Formosa opened at the weekend until 11th January, amid some controversy over bribery of a local politician, a one-day strike,  and talk of a new fair on the seafront in Funchal in future.

Fuel prices drop to early 2012 levels

Madeiran motorists are beginning to feel (just a little) of the effects of low oil prices in international markets. Starting today 98 octane gasoline costs €1,548 euros per litre, a decrease of 8% from earlier this year. To find a similar price it is necessary to go back to February 2012. From today diesel will cost €1,238 per litre, down 9.2%. Coloured diesel (red diesel in the UK), used by fishing vessels has dropped 12% since the beginning of 2014. Even these reductions are nowhere near in line with drops on the London market where Brent Crude is down 40% in the last six months – a price drop which has largely been passed on to motorists in the UK.

Volcanic eruptions continue in Cape Verde

Lava erupts from the Pico de Fogo volcano in Cape Verde (file photo)Following up on the previous blog, volcanic eruptions are reported to continue on the island of Fogo in the Cape Verde islands, with apartments being damaged by lava in a second village, Bangaeira. Two churches were also destroyed in the neighboring village of Portela, on top of previous heavy damage to dozens of homes, a hotel and a school. No deaths have been reported so far, though multiple people have been treated for inhaling ash or poisonous gases.

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