Portuguese Prime Minister Dr. Mario Soares arrived in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, on Monday?
Portuguese Prime Minister Dr. Mario Soares arrived in Funchal, the capital of Madeira, on Monday (19 June), for talks on implementing regional autonomy for the Atlantic island. A guerrilla separatist movement, the Front for the Liberation of Madeira (FLAMA), has waged a campaign of bombings and arson over the last four years, demanding total independence from Portugal.
SYNOPSIS: Dr. Soares headed the Portuguese delegation of cabinet minister. They were met at Funchal airport by Dr. Alberto Jardim, leader of the regional government of Madeira. The island was granted a degree of autonomy under the 1976 Portuguese constitution, but the separatists claim this is not enough. Their campaign of terrorism has been paralleled by a similar movement in Portugal's other Atlantic territory, the Azores archipelago.
As the delegation drove into Funchal, they passed walls daubed with FLAMA slogans and blue and white separatist flags. These were mixed with graffiti for the Front for the Liberation of the Azores (FLA). The talks in Funchal follow a meeting in Lisbon earlier this month between Dr. Soares and the Azores regional government. In April, the Portuguese deputy Prime Minister, Almeida Santos, who accompanied Dr. Soared to Madeira, was attacked by FLA supporters while visiting the Azores.
The Madeira talks were held in the Sao Lourenco Palace in central Funchal. The Madeira government is controlled by the social Democrats -- the chief opposition party in Portugal. The island has been a Portuguese colony since the fifteenth century and now plays a small but important role in Portugal's economy, providing revenue from tourism and wine exports. it is also a base for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), of which Portugal was a founder member.