Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PORTUGAL TODAY

Lisbon dispatches released by Wikileaks

The huge batch of documents released by Wikileaks at the weekend is said to contain 722 dispatches sent from the United States Embassy in Lisbon. Some are marked “Secret”. Tantalisingly, we don't know yet what is in them.

Many people would rather we were not be told, but it seems likely that we will be, especially if the contents of the documents are controversial or embarrassing in any way.

First reports suggest that many of the 722 cables focus on global terrorism, military operations and the economy. The first of the communications was sent on 24 May 2006 and the last on 25 February this year.

The US Embassy in Lisbon yesterday condemned Wikileaks. In line with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton's castigation in a TV broadcast, the Embassy called the Wikileaks action an irresponsible attempt to destroy global security, adding that it could endanger lives.

Following yesterday's revelations about Arab countries wanting the US to bomb Iran, comes news this morning that China would be willing to accept Korean reunification.

There is more, much more to come.

PORTUGAL TOMORROW
Old Iberian foes stand united
Government offices, banks and many businesses will be closed tomorrow. It's not another general strike. It's a day of celebration rather than protest. It's Portugal's Independence Day and this year there is an interesting twist to it.
What is being celebrated is not the country's original independence back in 1145. That's what October 5th is all about. December 1st marks the anniversary of the restoration of independence from Spain following 60 years of Spanish domination between 1580 and 1640.
During that period of annexation, Spain dragged Portugal into wars against the English, the French and the Dutch. The 'invincible' Spanish Armada set sail in 1588 not from Spain, but Lisbon. To help pay for this and other foreign exploits, the Spanish heavily taxed the Portuguese people.
Right royally fed up of rule from Madrid by Philip IV, a band of conspirators stormed the Governor's palace in Lisbon in 1640 and by popular acclaim installed the Duke of Bragança as João IV of Portugal.
The relationship between the Iberian neighbours remained rather frosty right up until they became members of the European Union. Today they are united like never before. The two nations put in a joint bid to host the 2018 football World Cup.
They are competing against England, Russia and a joint Netherlands/Belgium bid. Portuguese and Spanish officials are said to be 'moderately confident” of winning. The executive of football's world ruling body, FIFA, will vote on it in Zurich on Thursday.

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