26 March 2009

Torn posters and shredded lives

Earlier today, 'Correio da Manhã' reported on the alleged removal of posters belonging to the most recent campaign that the McCanns have launched in the greater Luz/Lagos area; posters that apparently were torn off by less than cooperative residents of Praia da Luz. A few hours later, the ‘Evening Standard’ was reporting this situation as acts of vandalism, and discussions about the subject on message boards have been lively and intense.

I personally find the subject sad, yet interesting at the same time, but it really would take a very long post to fully paint the picture of what Luz has been going through, since that fateful evening of the 3rd of May 2007.

The fact that there are people who actually trace ANY sort of connection/comparison between the locals' worry about their only source of income - tourism - and respect or consideration for Madeleine, is offensive, to say the least. Are these people supposed to sacrifice the survival of their entire families, in the name of some sort of curse that befell the village, on the 3rd of May 2007? Are these people expected to lay down their lives, because it would look indecorous to try to preserve one’s salary?

These people have done EVERYTHING that they could do, without anyone even asking them to do it; they took time off work, they gave their best efforts, their money, their hearts and souls to help find Madeleine. Anyone who thinks otherwise has either been fed a lot of misinformation by certain media, or is simply cruel beyond comprehension. People walked their feet until they were sore, searching a radius of 15 kms around the village. Those who couldn't physically help, offered food and drink to those who could, and to the policemen and fire fighters who were on location, day and night. Policemen slept in cars, when they slept at all; some were offered a few hours of sleep on a sofa in the locals' homes. The people in Luz cried, prayed and worried themselves sick over a little girl that they didn’t even know, as if it was their own daughter, niece or granddaughter.

Meanwhile, all over the country, people despaired. During those first days, there was criticism of the parents, it would be false to deny it, but the general sentiment was 'we have to find the little girl before anything else'. Finding Madeleine was the only thing that was on everyone's mind, not only in Luz, but all over the Algarve - all over Portugal, really, as many of the early 'sightings' across the country attest.

I think most of you are aware that I live in Portimão, some 30 kms away from Luz. I remember the helicopters flying over our house, on their way to Luz or returning from a day of searches. I remember the posters that were put up on every shop window, every bus stop, every train station, hospital waiting room, supermarket entrance… Thankfully, we never had to endure what Luz suffered, with the invasion of journalists from all over the world, in search for yet another ‘human angle’ story, for that special scope. We didn’t have to endure their raucous parties night after night, either – but that’s another story entirely.

But even 30 kms away from Luz, the worry was palpable, omnipresent, inescapable. Madeleine was the subject of every conversation, everywhere, at all times. This may seem somewhat surreal now, with the benefit of time distancing us from those times, even a bit exaggerated. But in May 2007, it seemed there was nothing that we weren’t prepared to do, even if that implied behaving in an exaggerated manner.

It was precisely this enormous nationwide effort, this extraordinarily intense commitment of people all over the country - an effort that had never been made for 'our' (fortunately few) missing children... – that made what followed that much harder to swallow.

It’s easy to blame the shift in people’s perspective about the case, on the leaks from the PJ, that were only too happily published by the Portuguese media. It’s easy to blame the McCanns’ fall from grace on Mr Amaral and his team (a team that included British policemen and British experts), or on human nature, because the ‘populace’ was envious of the McCanns’ money, fame, good looks.

But look again, please.

You will see a very different picture.

You will see the supposedly devastated, desperate parents, jogging, playing tennis, entertaining guests, posing for photographs, jetting all over Europe. You will see them smiling at the locals when the cameras were rolling – and not even saying ‘good morning’ when the employee from the Batista supermarket delivered their shopping at their apartment. You will see the British media, under the command of the McCanns’ spokespeople, ridiculing, insulting and humiliating the very same people who cried their eyes out for Madeleine.

And when the going got tough, instead of answering the police’s questions, they left Luz without a word. They turned their backs on those who had treated them like family, who had offered everything that they had, and then more.

Some will say that nobody asked the locals to do what they did. Others will say that the McCanns owed these people nothing, that they had to think about their missing daughter, about their remaining children. The McCanns had to protect their family.

Fair enough. God knows I’d protect my family with my life, if necessary; anyone can relate to such arguments.

But there cannot be two different standards just because it suits us.

The people of Luz are protecting their families as well. They have to earn a living, they have no fund to pay their mortgage when times are tough. They have no wealthy supporters, no famous sponsors. All that they have is their arms and legs to do their work, day in and day out, and that work just happens to be, for the vast majority at least, the tourist trade.

Even if for a moment, they put aside the insult, the arrogance, the humiliation that they suffered, they’d still be left with a very basic choice: a campaign of highly dubious success – or the need to restore the shattered image of their village as a safe, family friendly holiday destination.

Finally, just a thought about the proclaimed purpose of this campaign: the McCanns announce that they want to enlist the help of the people of Luz, to jog their memories, to collect any information they may have about the little girl, and the night that she disappeared – in the belief that a member of the population of Luz could have deliberately held information back from the police.

I think in English this is called 'adding insult to the injury'.

I’m sorry if this offends anyone, I definitely don’t condone the shredding of posters in this case; but if I ever come across one, I’ll quietly, calmly remove it and place it in the paper recycling bin. I don’t need posters to remind me of a little missing girl that didn’t deserve the destiny that befell her.

And neither do the people of Luz."

Translated in Portuguese here, in Spanish here. Reproduced here, here, and here




16 comments:

  1. Fantastic, Astro. A really well-balanced, thoughful and thought-provoking article.

    Best regards,

    Anna

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  2. Ca c'est bien parlé! Bravo Astro

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  3. Spoken from the hearts of all good people across all borders. Thank you.

    I have seen it written already on certain boards that this was the act of people that want to shelter paedophiles and I was disgusted. The whole "campagne" was predictable to just achieve one goal. Deal a last blow to the people that first saw through them and to a country they will probably never come back to.

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  4. Astro, what a beautiful and sad letter.But this will not touch the McCanns and their gang.
    They have no feelings, not even towards Maddie.
    Their feelings are connected with money, beautiful clothes, necklesses, hair dressers and attention from the media.
    Don't worry about the Evening Standard. People are not stuped, also not in the UK.
    By now they know the truth.In my job, I meet a lot of British people.
    At the beginning they believed in an abduction.
    Right now none of them believe it anymore. They all say Madeleine is dead and the parents know more than they told.
    By the way, the Portuguese police too.
    Someday the UK will regret what they are saying of the Portuguese people.
    Wait and see, darling!
    Those gangsters will pay for it.
    They could better not irritate our country the way they do.
    They will regret their attitudes and lies.

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  5. Vandalism in Algarve?
    Of course, now I remember it.

    Wasn't it in Praia da Luz, May the 3rd 2007?

    Yes, thank you, Evening Standard, you are right!

    That was real vandalism.

    I nearly had forgotten it.

    Thank you again!

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  6. Thank you Astro.
    mccanns sociopath-opera have to end. They are using Madeleine,again, for their own selfish reasons, and only the devil knows what they are. mccanns call it "The Wider Agenda" what ever that means. Sometimes I think they want the whole world suffer, because is their fault Madeleine is missing and they want to keep ingoring it. Therefore is somebodys else fault. I despice them. I hope they rot in hell.

    weissnicht 3A

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  7. Astro - thank you for that excellent, thoughtful and moving post.

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  8. Hear Hear Astro! I take my hat off to you!

    Rosie

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  9. From the "3 arguidos" site, a comment posted by Dr. Bennett on the Evening Standard article :

    "MY SUBMITTED COMMENT [Glick, Harlow, U.K.]

    The reaction of the locals in Portugal is understandable. The McCanns didn't look for Madeleine themselves but expected the locals to do so.

    The McCanns have smeared the senior detective, Goncalo Amaral, who led the investigation until he was removed - he says after British government pressure was brought to bear on the investigation. Dr Gerald McCann has publicly slated the Portguese for only recently emerging from communism and fascism. The local tourist trade has been affected.

    And besides all that, the locals are only too well aware of dozens of reasons which suggest that Madeleine was not abducted, including the evidence of the cadaver dogs Eddie and Keela, who were specially brought to Portugal and who located the scent of a corpse at four locations in the McCanns' apartment, two in their hired Renault Scenic car, on two of Dr Kate McCann's clothes, on one of the children's T-shirts, and on the pink soft toy, 'Cuddle Cat'.

    Small wonder they are upset


    WHAT THE EVENING STANDARD ACTUALLY PRINTED:

    The reaction of the locals in Portugal is understandable. The local tourist trade has been affected."

    This says it all about the unbiased and free british press, heh? Comments dramatically edited to the moderators fancy (several, not only Mr. Bennett's), turning an opinion with some harsh facts about the Mccanns in something so wishy-washy!
    And it is us the portuguese who were once fascists, then communists, have little experience at democracy and still linger between one and the other ideologies. But on one thing Mr. Mccann was dead right, freedom of speech is very much "enshrined" here, unlike it is in the U.K., so it seems!


    Rosie

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  10. The new "campaign" only shows once more that the mccanns have NO respect nor decency.
    As I said earlier,you portuguese have the power in your hands: show your indignation and protest strongly against them.They must stop using and abusing your country.This is more than enough.
    Madeleine "disappeared" and this is their entire fault.No one else.
    This is a new show of their guilt and denial.Thats all what there is to it along with nastiness and arrogance.
    They must be stopped.
    Basta ya!
    Un abrazo

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  11. Thank you, Astro.

    Time is on Madeleine's side.

    Just wait and see.

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  12. Sentimientos compartidos, Astro.

    Reacción popular? Se debería.

    Ellos esperaban esta respuesta? No creo.

    El objetivo era otro? Así lo creo.

    Esperanza en Mayo.

    Un abrazo,

    Otro para Joana.

    Reme

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  13. I understand the anger.... and the need to write it down... but in fact we should nog give these McCanns all this attention.... they love it... positive or negative ..... they love to be in the 'news'

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