Venezuelan authorities have announced that Portuguese courts have ruled in favor of Venezuela and ordered Novo Banco to return $1.5 billion illegally seized from accounts belonging to the Venezuelan government, following the failed 2019 US-led regime change operation that attempted to oust President Nicolás Maduro. “Breaking news: the Bolivarian [Venezuelan] government wins trial and recovers its assets in Portugal,” wrote the Venezuelan minister for communication and information, Freddy Ñáñez, officially disclosing Portugal’s judiciary decision via social media this Wednesday, August 9. “$1.5 billion were released by Novo Banco.”
I was a guest at a top business gathering – mostly Spaniards but also featuring Portuguese, Germans, Brits and Scandinavians: ultra high-level executives in real estate, asset management, and investment banking. Our panel was titled “Global Geopolitical Shifts and Their Consequences.” Before the panel, participants were invited to vote on what worried them most when it comes to the future of their business. Number one was inflation and interest rates. Number two was geopolitics. That prefigured a very lively debate ahead. Little did I or the audience know that would turn into a wild ride. The first presentation came from the director of a “Center for European Politics” in Copenhagen.
Lisbon, Portugal - Thousands of Portuguese workers marched July 7 to condemn inflation and stagnant wages. People traveled from across the country to gather in Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal. Many traveled by train from Porto, the biggest city in the northern region of Portugal, where the train departed from Campanhã Train Station with around 800 protesters aboard. The thousands converged on Marqués de Pombal Park in Lisbon then marched to the Portuguese parliament.
When Covid first spread to the UK, the only thing that might have topped the public consciousness more than the pandemic itself were debates about ‘working from home’. From its effectiveness and impact on office economies to the future of work itself, these debates have since been inescapable. But as cliché as it is, this shift in the way we work has completely changed what we understand as the rights of the worker—as well as what it means to work. A huge number of jobs can’t be done remotely. Even during lockdowns, as many as 10.6 million people, or a third of the overall workforce, were employed in key worker industries. But more and more of are likely to be working from home in future.
We are writing to you to urge Novo Banco to execute the transfer of a modest portion of the now technically unfrozen assets belonging to Bandes, the Venezuelan economic and social development bank, so they may be transferred directly to the Brazil-based Pan-American Health Organisation to pay for vaccines and medicines for infants in Venezuela. Bandes informed us that they submitted this request to Novo Banco on 22nd July and have yet to receive a response. At this point in time there is no legal or extralegal obstacle that would preclude a Portuguese bank from making a transfer of Bandes’ own funds in Brazilian reales directly to a Brazilian bank account in order to pay for humanitarian supplies for children. Nearly 2 billion USD (in various currencies but a large amount in euros) have been withheld by Novo Banco illegally since late 2017.
There’s a place in the West where a smattering of anti-austerity, pro-immigration, pro-public-spending left-wing parties are not only in power, but are actually popular. I’m talking about Portugal, the small European country I have witnessed grow into a global political marvel. On Sunday, progressives around the world cheered as a loose left-wing coalition won enough seats to rule the country for another four years. The story of Portugal’s resurgent left starts in 2015, when, as a center-right government continued to force austerity measures painfully down the throats of a suffering nation, the Portuguese voted for an alternative—sort of.
In 2019, European and legislative elections will take place in Portugal in a national political context different from anywhere else in the European Union (EU), where austerity policies still reign and the racist and xenophobic right is rising, writes Dick Nichols from Lisbon. Over the past three years in Portugal, the minority Socialist Party (PS) government has been supported from outside by the Left Bloc, the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP) and the Ecologist Party-The Greens (PEV). During that time wages and welfare payments have risen, privatisations have stopped, unemployment has halved to 6.3%, casual workers in the public sector have been made permanent, and the electricity and public transport bills of about 700,000 poor families have been cut.
Citizens in Portugal vote on how public funding is spent on national and regional projects, in the world’s first participatory budgeting scheme of its kind. The project is led by the Administrative Modernisation Agency to build trust among citizens and bring them into government. It was awarded the Best Citizen Engagement award at the recent Innovation Labs World hosted by GovInsider. The Portugal Participatory Budget (PPB) allows citizens to present investment proposals and then choose, through transparent and open voting, which projects should be funded and implemented. The budgeting process has two main phases: citizens first present budget proposals via the PPB’s online portal or in person at participative meetings held across Portugal.
The American activists couldn't wrap their heads around it. Sitting in a dingy office in a nondescript building in central Lisbon, they were being provided a fine-grained explanation of what happens to people caught with small amounts of drugs in Portugal, which decriminalized the possession of personal use amounts of drugs 17 years ago. The activists, having lived the American experience, wanted desperately to know when and how the coercive power of the state kicked in, how the drug users were to be punished for their transgressions, even if they had only been hit with an administrative citation, which is what happens to people caught with small quantities of drugs there. Nuno Capaz was trying to explain. He is vice chairman of the Lisbon Dissuasion Commission, the three-member tribunal set up to handle people caught with drugs.
By the Campaign to Stop Genetically-Engineered Trees. Wildfires in Portugal have been called “the worst such disaster in recent history.” Dozens of people burnt to death in their cars while trying to escape the inferno. But this horrific tragedy was human-made. One-quarter of Portugal’s forested landscape (more than 812,000 hectares or 2 million acres) has been replaced by non-native eucalyptus plantations. On top of that are expansive pine plantations. Oliver Munnion, Co-Director of Biofuelwatch, lives in Portugal’s wildfire zone. “We spent last night in a local school after some 30 villages were evacuated in our area. News reports say that a quarter of the municipality has burned. We’ve been lucky so far and still have our home, but many others have lost so much.
By Cat Johnson for Shareable - Participatory budgeting is becoming increasingly popular, with more than 1,500 programs worldwide. The concept is simple: People submit ideas for what government should spend a portion of its money on and then vote on the best ideas. Until now, however, the process has been limited to cities and regions. Recently, Portugal became the first county to instate a nationwide participatory budgeting (PB) process with Orçamento Participativo Portugal. While the amount allotted for the project is relatively small in its first year...
By Will Godfrey for The Influence. “Will decriminalization solve the drug scourge?” wonders a Washington Post column today. It’s a question being widely asked in the wake of a major report published yesterday by the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, in which those two prestigious organizations called for the decriminalization of all drugs for personal use. The many reasons to support such a move include the right to self-determination when it comes to drug use; better prospects of reducing drug-related harms; and ending America’s appalling, racially biased levels of drug-related arrestsand incarceration. Portugal decriminalized all drugs back in 2001, eliminating criminal penalties for consumption and possession in quantities deemed to be for personal use. Portugal’s bold approach has been in place for long enough to allow meaningful analysis of its results. The result, It’s easy to answer the question of whether or not the US should decriminalize drugs. Indeed, the only debate should be around whether decriminalization goes far enough—whether full legal regulation . . .