European Chronicles-4


There is only a thin line separating Portugal from Mozambique. That’s what I’ve concluded after listening to a few minutes of a television debate. Someone from the Portuguese government was trying to convince us that the wealth of Portuguese people depended of paying less to the private sector leading personnel. According to his words, the government was already cutting on salaries. Consequently, it was up to the private sector to follow the same example.


One of the results of such policies is the emigration of specialized technicians. I have a total of three nephews. Three boys. The only one in Portugal is leaving on the 1st of February to Barcelona where he is going to work as a civil engineer.


Can’t people see the difference? Cutting expenses and excesses it’s a necessity in a government asking too much in terms of taxes. The private sector doesn’t have to cut on salaries because if a company is paying high salaries, it’s because somehow it is creating wealth enough to pay. Thinking differently reminds me of Mozambique.


No doubt that there are good roads, but I don’t understand why don’t they address essential aspects of security. In South Africa drivers are protected from side rocks and other contingencies by using nets or other measures. Slow traffic between center and south makes hard to believe that we are crossing a developed country.


Portugal is a matter of psychiatry, a clear case of double personality. There is a part of this country still living in the past, another part in the present. Inside the mind of the majority of the Portuguese there is a bit of the old Portugal and a bit of the new Europe. Shortly after arriving, Paul asked for a coffee. A Brazilian waiter brought the coffee and answered a few questions on subjects Paul was curious about. Because he was a really nice guy, Paul paid E2.50 for the coffee and tipped him with another 2.50. Someone sitting with us commented his gesture: “Do you know how many escudos you just gave to him?” Comments of the same kind have been frequent, sometimes using contos instead of escudos.