INSIDE LISBON

A spectacular attack on Europe’s second largest shopping centre, Colombo, by thirty young negros, which finished with six security guards in hospital, various shop windows broken and a mass exodus of the shoppers, set Lisbon’s newspapers alight in the first few days of this week. Such attacks are unfortunately now the norm and not the exception in Lisbon, as gangs of unemployed youngsters from families from Portugal’s former African colonies, start to dictate their presence in a formerly peaceful and crime-free society. This attack was particularly noticeable because the Colombo Shopping Centre, opposite Benfica’s football stadium, Estбdio da Luz (Stadium of Light), has 100,000 visitors per day. Portugal was used by the United States as the bad example of the European Union’s environmental policy this week. The Hague conference (Netherlands) on climate change, aiming to limit Greenhouse Effect Gases, had stipulated certain limits of emissions for the countries involved. The USA, the world’s greatest polluter, was the main victim of accusations but unfortunately, Portugal had an even worse record and this was not forgotten nor forgiven by the US delegation to the conference. “It is ironical in the case of the EU (European Union) which will allow certain member states to increase their emissions by 27%” said James Sensenberger, leader of the US Congress Members at the Hague Conference. This comes after two successive fines by the EU against Portugal for not fulfilling EU laws. The historic centre of Lisbon, rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1755, which has been reported as the worst earthquake in history, with vertical and horizontal movements acting simultaneously, had been until recently the home of designer shops, sophisticated shoppers and constituted an island of calm and safety in a European capital. Recently, however, this area, named “Baixa” or “Downtown” has been invaded by hippies from various Western European countries and the result has not been very friendly. Portugal is a country where the inhabitants respect their neighbours and where, if a neighbour is misbehaving, the community reacts. Now, with visitors to this historic centre of Lisbon being accosted, insulted and physically attacked when they go shopping, by youths sporting studs, ear-rings, torn and dirty clothes, sleeping in the most expensive shops’ doorways, the press is beginning to take up the story. Floods came to Lisbon yesterday as rain fell torrentially for the first time in three years. Several areas of the city were under water, provoking the greatest operation of the city’s firemen for many years. Fortunately, there were no victims. Finally, the tennis championships next week (Lisbon Masters) will provide Lisbon with the best eight male tennis players, including Kafelnikov and Safin.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey Pravda.Ru Lisbon