PORTUGAL: ISLE OF MADEIRA HAS INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT

27 years after the Portuguese Revolution of 25th April, 1974, the Isle of Madeira again has an independence movement. This time it is not the extremist FLAMA, which launched grenade attacks against state institutions in the “hot “ days after the coup which toppled Portugal’s fascist regime, but the Secretary General of the main political force in Madeira, the PSD. The archipelago of Madeira is 1,000 km South-West of Lisbon in the Atlantic Ocean. Populated by Portuguese explorers since 1420, these islands are autonomous regions within Portuguese Territory, along with the Azores Islands, 700 km to the west. Being islands, the local culture and way of speaking have their own characteristics but the independence movement which appeared after the Revolution never really gained bases. Now, however, Jaime Ramos, General Secretary of the Social Democratic Party (PSD), in government in the regional parliament of Madeira but the opposition party in continental Portugal, has launched a flagrant bid for autonomy: “Autonomy is a fight which only ends when all the political, administrative and constitutional mechanisms arrive at what can really be called Independence….We, the people of Madeira, have more than enough reasons to continue to fight for Madeira and Porto Santo to one day be free from the colonial power which unfortunately the socialists and social-fascists wish to impose on the freedom we have gained”. The archipelago of Madeira is an important tourist destination and is becoming an investment centre for off-shore financial operations. Madeira is the main island, 57km. x 22 km, with around 250,000 people. As countries pull together inside the European Union, regions pull apart as Europe sees a greater integration at the institutional level and more cultural freedom and an increased capacity for local expression at the regional one.

TIMOTHY BANCROFT-HINCHEY PRAVDA.RU LISBON