Olhão, the east Algarve ‘town-in-rapid-expansion’, received the Socialist ministers of the the Sea and Defence on Wednesday in a flying visit to announce “a number of a new works” at regional ports.
Expertly-timed to precede the October 1 municipal elections, the occasion opened the way for a major mayoral strop in neighbouring Faro.
Centre-right council president Rogério Bacalhau complained that it was “outrageous” that a new agreement for a maritime post on Culatra island’s westernmost community of Farol should be celebrated in Olhão and not Faro, because Faro holds council jurisdiction over the area.
Islanders viewed the outburst with amusement, bearing in mind the community’s links have always been strongest with Olhão, and it is invariably the president of Olhão council who supports them in their battles with the authorities.
Covering this latest political cameo, Sulinformação website said Bacalhau was also extremely miffed that he only got to hear about the ministerial visit 24-hours ahead of time.
As a result, he was unable to take up the invitation to attend the ceremony, “due to a previously confirmed engagement”.
Smiling broadly as she took command of the day, Minister of the Sea Ana Paula Vitorino dismissed the strop as ‘just one of those things’.
“We’re at a special time in our lives, and especially in the lives of municipalities”, she told the news service – stressing that she had just been to Portimão where agreements were signed in respect not only of that town, but also Lagos and Sagres.
Far from joining Bacalhau in outrage, the presidents of Lagos and Sagres councils had both been perfectly comfortable taking part in the ceremony in Portimão.
But then this ‘special time’ could be said to be seeing central and local Socialists sticking together. That is far more likely to be the source of Bacalhau’s ‘outrage’ – bearing in mind that he is bidding this time round for a PSD majority on his ‘hung’ council.
Explains Sulinformação: “The mayor is confident that the work he has developed over the last four years will be capable of convincing Faro’s electorate to vote for the coalition he is heading” (see below).
But back to the “various new works” announced by Portugal’s leading minister who is selling the country’s seas – even before the UN rubber-stamps the bid to extend Portugal’s continental platform (click here) – as part of the newly-forged Blue Fund.
Aside from Farol’s new post for maritime police, Ana Paula Vitorino consigned the contract for repairs to the steps and defences of Portimão, Lagos and Sagres fishing ports, as well as a upgrade to water and energy supplies to quays 1 and 2 in Portimão, and the rehabilitation of three supply ramps for the communities of Culatra island.
Vitorino was accompanied by defence minister Azeredo Lopes due to the latter’s presentation of a state-of-the-art coastal surveillance system, Costa Segura.
Lopes told tabloid Correio da Manhã: “Everything points to maritime security taking a greater importance than we could have seen 10 -20 years ago, due to piracy”.
The remark reinforces plans the government clearly has for developing what it calls Portugal’s Blue Economy.
In a talk in Aljezur hours after the ministers headed back to Lisbon, anti-oil campaign heroine Laurinda Seabra told a small audience at Moagem de Ideias that “despite the fact that everyone thinks drilling contracts for the south coast have been scrapped, there is nothing to stop new ones being signed tomorrow, as the concessions remain in place”.
Seabra added that in repeated ‘sales pitch’ trips overseas to the United States, Vitorino is still ‘selling’ the six concessions (on land and sea in the Algarve) that the government previously announced it had dropped (click here).
EARTH PARTY ALIGNS WITH RIGHT-WING IN FARO
Rogério Bacalhau’s bid for an absolute majority in Faro at the municipal elections on October 1 sees him joining forces with not only traditional PSD allies, the CDS-PP, but MPT-Partido da Terra (the Earth Party).
Up until this point, the Earth Party had been presumed to be anti-oil, while parties like PSD, PS, CDS-PP and PCP/ CDU have all shown themselves to be pro- exploration, both of oil and natural gas.
Photo: uploaded onto Facebook by Manuel Luís from Algarve Press, shows Defence minister Azeredo Lopes, Minister of the Sea Ana Paula Vitorino and Olhão council leader António Pina