Carmona Rodrigues condemns Big Brother repression

news: Carmona Rodrigues condemns Big Brother repression

IT WAS a calm, understated but self-assured performance from Carmona Rodrigues, Lisbon Câmara vice president and a candidate in the October local council elections, who spoke at a lunch hosted by joint chambers of commerce at the Lisbon Sheraton Hotel last Monday.

Carmona reminded his audience that this year marked the 750th anniversary of Lisbon as the country’s capital and remarked on the beauty of the city from the excellent vantage point of the Sheraton’s panoramic top-floor restaurant reports Gabriel Hershman.

Addressing an audience of business leaders and ambassadors, including the British Ambassador to Portugal, John Buck, Carmona Rodrigues reaffirmed his commitment to the city’s elderly and students, and to improving housing. One of his key pledges is to create 5,000 new homes for young people to rent in the city. He reminded his audience that a quarter of Lisbon’s population is over 65 and promised to improve conditions in the capital’s universities for its 140,000 students, eight per cent of whom were now foreign. “Supporting our students is an investment in our future,” he told his audience.

He also pledged to upgrade training for Lisbon Câmara staff and pledged himself to urban restoration – creating “a city with body and soul” in order to attract more investment and businesses. He claimed that much had already been achieved to improve Lisbon’s aesthetic attractiveness over the last few years, advances he hoped to continue.

He promised to restore the city’s dilapidated buildings and said it was fundamental that the political class amend laws governing the financing of local authorities. One specific pledge he made was to revamp the Bairro da Liberdade area in Campolide within the first six months of his new administration.

He said he wanted to see Lisbon maintaining its competitiveness, sustainability and openness, and hoped to see the city in the top ten of cities for attracting enterprise. He also called for the expedition of bureaucratic and legal processes.

Hailing the success of recent events such as Expo 98, Euro 2004 and Rock in Rio, he said that he looked forward to the day when Lisbon would echo London’s example and host the Olympic Games.

Carmona Rodrigues voiced his opposition to Big Brother video surveillance type measures for the city’s trouble spots, one of the ideas advanced by his main opponent to Lisbon’s mayoral position, Socialist candidate Manuel Maria Carrilho. He described these schemes as corrosive to citizens’ civil liberties and almost repressive. He attributed delinquency to poor urban design and bad housing schemes in the past, and said that he favoured strong local policing as a solution to the problem. He also added that the câmara should play a part in training police.

Carmona Rodrigues, in response to a question in regard to Lisbon’s plans in the event of a disaster such as an earthquake, said that local authorities were obliged to have at their disposal contingency plans to deal with emergencies. He said that attention was also being paid to educating children in schools about possible repercussions to seismic activity, including the risk of fires, water contamination and flooding.

In declarations to the Social Democrats’ local authorities’ convention the previous day, Carmona Rodrigues had expressed his pride at being chosen as the party’s candidate for Lisbon Câmara President. He said he felt honoured to follow in the footsteps of great leaders of the past, such as Sá Carneiro and Pinto Balsemão, but, significantly, omitted to mention his predecessor, Pedro Santana Lopes.