My co-host Irene compiled notes for our discussion about her trip and family history and we thought you may interested seeing them. They are for both the energy crisis and her family history. Enjoy.
– The Mighty Humanzee
EU Energy Questions
What percentage of energy is generated by your own country?
We generate wind, water, some nuclear, although most believe that Portugal shut down nuclear.
Oil comes mostly from Saudis. Also Angola, which was once a Portuguese colony.
All new homes must have solar heating for hot water. Mandatory.
It’s for personal consumption. No such thing as going back to the grid.
How much has diesel increased in your region?
Diesel was always huge in Portugal. Growing up that’s what most cars used. Still is.
Also used for household heating and farming. My hometown still doesn’t have piped in natural gas in most areas. And I’m 30 minutes from Porto, second largest city.
We use diesel, propane, and wood to heat up water. Mostly diesel.
Tankless water heaters are big here.
Of the energy that is imported, is it natural gas, and is the origin of the natural gas Russia?
Natural gas from Algeria and Nigeria thru pipeline, across Spain.
Not a lot from Russia, under 10%.
Germany has indicated that shortages of natural gas require limiting the use of hot water. Has that also affected your region?
Yes. PT has been asked to cut back by 10% this winter. The request had been 5% until this week. EU government has requested that of all member countries.
Germany has indicated that shortage of natural gas will extend into winter with possible rationing. Is that imminent in your region?
Yep! Also in Spain and France.
These are the news headlines across the 3 countries that I visited.
What alternatives to energy supply has your region ignored that you wish had been developed in lieu of Russian / Ukrainian conflict?
Nuclear seems to be the most reliable.
But Portugal has no coal or oil so they had to be innovative. It’s somewhat at the mercy of other nations.
Can’t blame high prices on Russia since most of our oil comes from Saudis and Angola.
Have you reconsidered abandoning fossil fuels now that the Russian conflict has affected prices? Would more natural gas from Norway be enough to return your economy to a more stable state?
What percentage of increase in food prices and other essentials have you seen?
There’s been about a 30% increase in prices. Supermarkets, restaurants.
In PT a cup of coffee at a rest stop is 1.20 euros. In Spain (rest stop) 2.40. In France (rest stop) 5 euros. PT is always the cheapest and France the more expensive out of the 3. BUT all 3 countries raised pricing. All comes down to energy costs which affect transport.
Are you seeing shortages due to energy increase? Has that also added to the Covid shutdown supply chain woes?
I haven’’ seen shortages. The empty shelves we see in the US, I haven’’ seen here at all.
I do see a lot of businesses that did not survive covid lockdowns. Both in PT and in Spain.
What measures have you taken to combat food shortages?
Fuel shortages is the big worry.
I come from a farming village. We can survive.
Some families can still get by as if they lived on “Little House on the Prairie”. My neighbor is one of them
Cristina, 89 years old, lives alone. Growns her own fruit and vegetables. Buys meat and fish. She’s good 🙂
What small signs or signals that collective control was becoming a yoke that you initially ignored that later on you wish you heeded?
My parents grew up in a dictatorship.
It’s all they knew.
The local priest would come to the house with the government guys during elections and collect their votes, if there was opposition to the dictator.
If anyone spoke out or started blabbing around town at the pubs or cafes, they’ d disappear.
No one knew who the informants were, so everyone was a suspect. That’s how they controlled the people.
Did other family members influence your views to remain under the radar when behavior became regulated?
Absolutely. Family members would not allow loved ones to speak up.
I still remember sitting at the dinner table and my mom becoming very upset when my grandfather said anything critical of the government.
And it was just the family!
My grandfather had a business buying, selling, transporting livestock. He had 3 guys who worked for him. My mom was always worried that they’d accuse my grandfather of something and he’d disappear.
Never happened. And the workers were very nice but that’s how fear worked.
So, this environment led to everyone in government being on the take. Police, low level government workers. Everyone. If grandfather wanted to transport he had to pay someone off to get the paperwork. Nothing illegal about it, it was allowed by the government BUT the low level employees had the power to hold up ANYTHING they wanted.
After dinner, I’d sit with my grandfather to count the money from a day’s work, and he always had a separate pile to pay the extortion. Vividly remember that. 🙂
Were the family members who warned of impending loss of freedom that you ignored?
Nope. Everyone towed the line.
But when my dad was able to leave PT for the US, he did immediately. Mostly for economic reasons. No one prospers in a totalitarian country. Other than the ones in power.
What did the regime do at first to quiet dissenting voices?
A= Propaganda. Only what the gov allowed was transmitted on the radio and television. There was only 1 channel though and most people couldn’’ afford a television, although many had a radio and paid a yearly tax on it.
Then people disappeared. If they became bothersome.
Comedians would talk about the problems in roundabout ways. No one openly criticized the government aside from journalists or professors. Many left PT or disappeared.
After the regime fell in 1974, political prisoners were found jailed who were believed to be dead.
Did the response from the regime become more harsh as their control tightened?
Not so much in PT. Most people conformed quickly.
In the farming villages, it was part of life.
It’s what you did. Mind your business. Shut up to survive.
What behavior did you have to modify the most?
My parents really didn’t since all they knew was fascism and they didn’t grow up in a city.
How did the regime inform the public which behaviors were punished? In other words, were there continual public examples?
Not really. It was all very subtle. Remember that the newspapers, television and radio was government owned so the people didn’t know much other than what they were told by the Party.
What was the final event that made you want to leave, and was that process a dangerous one?
My dad left when his sister who was living in the USA sponsored him. He was ready to leave since he had served in the army and realized what was happening. No future. No ability to earn a living. He’d be a grunt all his life. So he was looking to get out.