Portugal. During the year, a pedophile heritage was discovered at the state orphanage Casa Pia for boys in the capital Lisbon. In the scandal, top-level politicians were involved. According to staff at Casa Pia, a total of over a hundred children had been exploited. The first to be arrested was a driver at the orphanage. He was suspected of having handled the pedophiles’ contact with the orphanage children. Soon enough, a doctor, two TV executives, a lawyer, former ambassador to South Africa Jorge Ritto and a former director of Casa Pia were also arrested. Popular anger was aroused when it became apparent that abuse had occurred at Casa Pia’s orphanage for a couple of decades. When it was also revealed that a former president, former ministers and high ranking police officers have known about the abuses since the 1980s without intervening, President Jorge Sampaio ordered an investigation.
According to Countryaah.com, Portugal Independence Day is December 1. The scandal had serious political consequences when former Labor Minister Paulo Pedroso, who is also a representative of the Socialist Party in Parliament, was arrested in May for participation in the events. Pedroso himself stated that he was innocent and that the arrest had political motives. In December, the charges came against ten suspected perpetrators, including Ritto and Pedroso. The charges were among other things sexual exploitation of minors and rape.
During the year it became easier for the country’s employers to dismiss employees who have been away from work too often. According to a new law, an employee could be kicked if he has been away for four days in a row or a total of eight days for one year without a medical certificate. In 2002, Portuguese employees spent an average of 18 days a year on sick leave, which was the highest figure in Europe. For those who did not take sick leave at all, extra holiday days could be introduced as a reward.
Portugal had the lowest productivity in Europe during the year. Every day, about 200,000 Portuguese were away from work. To top it all, Portugal was named in a survey as the laziest nation in the EU. A sedentary lifestyle was common among the Portuguese, and almost 88% of the residents did not exercise at all.
A heat wave with strong, warm winds washed over Portugal in July and August. A peak temperature of just over 47 degrees was measured. The dry heat caused large forest fires which devastated up to a tenth of the country’s forest area. About 1,300 Portuguese were estimated to have died as a result of the heat.
In October, Foreign Minister Antonio Martins da Cruz was forced to leave his post after it turned out that he had used his position to arrange a place for a medical education for his daughter. He was replaced by Teresa Gouveia, who became Portugal’s first female foreign minister.