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· Culture · · T. Filomena Abreu · P. Rights Reserved

The events that have marked the last 20 years

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Going back in time is almost always an exercise that awakens the most Portuguese of feelings: saudade, roughly translating to longing. Looking back at the last 20 years in black and white, we are amazed at the speed with which the hours have passed, at the memories we have accumulated and at how much we have changed. Two decades ago we were, in fact, in another country and another world. With you from this side, we have, since then, walked together, attentive to the moments, people and details that ended up engraved in our fragile existence. The pages that follow are, therefore, a quick foray into the complexities of the history that we have walked united, ever since the first issue. John Lennon said: «A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together with is reality.» Thanks to you, Villas&Golfe has been a reality that is here to stay. 


2001
From this year onwards, nothing would ever been the same again. 2001 is known for having changed the world forever, but it also changed us, to this day, at a national level. On March 04, the country was rocked by the tragedy of Entre-os-Rios, when the Hintze Ribeiro bridge collapsed and threw a bus containing 53 passengers and three cars with six passengers into the River Douro. No one survived. The accident brought about the resignation of the then Minister of Equipment, Jorge Coelho, who died in April 2021, and who made the famous statement: «Blame cannot die alone.» The country, and the world, would once again be dismayed by the images shown on television on September 11. Two planes crashed into the Twin Towers in New York causing the iconic buildings to collapse. That day, 2996 people lost their lives in the attacks. The first of dozens of attacks claimed by the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, led by Osama Bin Laden. Curiously that self-same day, the editorial office of Villas&Golfe put to bed its very first issue. As has already been written here, nothing would ever been the same again.

P. Marta Posemuckel
2002
Its date and time scheduled well in advance, January 01, 2002, this historic moment saw 12 countries of the European Union, with a total of 308 million inhabitants, adopt the Euro, leaving their national currencies behind. This was the biggest monetary changeover in history. In Portugal’s case, we bid farewell to the Escudo. But other changes were afoot. The following month, on February 08, the floodgates of the Alqueva Dam were closed to bring into being Europe’s the largest artificial lake. Not everyone was happy. Even so, the then prime minister, António Guterres, gave the order: «We are going to proceed with the operation that allows the Alqueva Dam to start filling.» This took place almost three decades after the country began discussing the need for it. The submergence of the village of Luz had the project’s greatest social repercussions. In the same year, after two decades of Indonesian occupation, East Timor gained its independence on May 20. Portugal, the territory’s former colonising power, played a pivotal role in obtaining this status for the Timorese.
2003
Marked by hope and many uncertainties, the presidential inauguration of Lula da Silva was seen as a turning point in Brazil. But it was the threat of an armed conflict in Iraq that dominated international news, when the then American secretary of state, Colin Powell, argued, before the United Nations, that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction. At the same time, the Portuguese prime minister, Durão Barroso, hosted the Lajes Summit, in the Azores, where he welcomed Tony Blair, George W. Bush and José Maria Aznar to coordinate the invasion of Iraq, despite several anti-war demonstrations taking place in various European cities. In March, the USA announced to the world the start of the second war on Iraqi soil. In the same year, science took a giant leap forward. The Human Genome Project was declared completed, with 99.99% decoded. Scientists from six countries presented the discovery of the sequence they called «the book of life», which made it easier to understand how the human body works and certain diseases. November 26, saw the last official flight of Concorde, the iconic, supersonic aircraft.
P. Aynur Zakirov
2004
Science magazine initially named the discovery of water on Mars as the year’s greatest achievement. NASA’s Mars rover Opportunity discovered spherical rocks on Mars that were dubbed «blueberries». They were later confirmed to be hematite. They were, however, unable to assess the levels of iron present and thus whether they stored water. In the same year, Mark Zuckerberg and three colleagues created the social network Facebook. It would later become the most widely used platform ever. In sports, the Old Continent came alive at the European Football Championship, held in Portugal. Greece won the competition by beating the Portuguese squad 1-0 in the final. The event was considered by UEFA to be one of the finest and best organised European football events ever. To put together this sporting event, Portugal built and renovated ten stadia at a cost of around €665m. Before the year was out, tragedy shook the world when a tsunami off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, on December 26, killed more than 230,000 people of 14 countries.
2005 
In February’s general election, the PS party won its first absolute majority in its history, heralding the entry of a government led by José Sócrates, after President Jorge Sampaio dismissed prime minister Santana Lopes, just four months after he had taken office. In the heart of Europe, Angela Merkel was elected Chancellor, thus becoming the first woman to hold this position in Germany, which she holds to this day. But, prior to that, on April 02, Pope John Paul II died. On April, Pope Benedict XVI officially took up the pontificate in St Peter’s Square in Vatican City. In the USA, Hurricane Katrina caused severe flooding in Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans, Louisiana. One of the worst storms in history in that region. And in the UK, four suicide bombers attacked central London causing 53 deaths. Returning to Portugal, the year was also marked by the arrival of Ryanair in Oporto, which also extended its stopovers in Faro.
P. José Manuel Ribeiro
2006
The year in which Cavaco Silva succeeded Jorge Sampaio as Portugal’s President is also engraved in our memory. The country played host to the world’s best-known off-road race. The Lisbon-Dakar Rally left the Portuguese capital for Senegal for the first time. In the process, another biker would lose his life. Nor would the country forget the victory of the Portuguese-Nigerian Francis Obikwelu, who became European Champion in the 100 metres and 200 metres at the European Athletics Championships held in Gothenburg, Sweden. In the same year, in Oporto, there is a case that shocks the country. Gisberta, a Brazilian transsexual homeless woman, is tortured and thrown down a well and ends up dying. The perpetrators of the crime were 13 adolescents, who lived at the Oficina de São José charity institution, in the city. Before the turn of the year, more precisely on December 30, the world’s press reports the death, by hanging, of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, sentenced to death, one year after the invasion of Iraq by the USA, then under the administration of George W. Bush.
2007
In February, following a referendum, Portugal legalised the decriminalisation of abortion (Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy). On May 04, international media raced down to Portugal, for the worst of reasons. The day before, Madeleine McCann (Maddie) had disappeared from her bedroom in the tourist resort of Praia da Luz, Algarve. She was four years old and was never found again. Months later, in July, the so-called ‘subprime’ financial crisis began, with the fall of the Dow Jones index, motivated by the concession of high-risk mortgage loans, a practice that dragged several banks into insolvency, and had repercussions on stock markets all over the world. This did not cause Apple Inc. to delay the launch of the first smart phone model, the iPhone. The year ended with the signing of the Treaty of Lisbon, at the Jerónimos Monastery, during the penultimate Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union. This reform document brought about many changes to the functioning and powers of the different European institutions.2007O país legalizou, em fevereiro, por referendo a despenalização do aborto (Interrupção Voluntária da Gravidez). A 4 de maio, os meios de comunicação internacionais rumaram a Portugal, pelos piores motivos. No dia anterior, Madeleine McCann (Maddie) desaparecera do quarto onde dormia, no aldeamento turístico da Praia da Luz, Algarve. Tinha quatro anos e nunca mais foi encontrada. Meses depois, em julho, começou a crise financeira conhecida como Subprime, a partir da queda do índice Dow Jones, motivada pela concessão de empréstimos hipotecários de alto risco, prática que arrastou vários bancos para a insolvência, repercutindo-se nas bolsas de valores de todo o mundo. O que não fez com que a Apple Inc. atrasasse o lançamento do primeiro modelo de telefone inteligente, o iPhone. O ano terminou com a assinatura do Tratado de Lisboa, no Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, durante a penúltima Presidência Portuguesa do Conselho da União Europeia. Tratou-se de um documento reformador que trouxe muitas mudanças ao funcionamento e às competências das diferentes instituições europeias.
2008
In a surprise move, on February 19 Fidel Castro resigned from the presidency and command of the armed forces in Cuba after 32 years in that position. In the USA, history was also made, when Americans elected an African-American lawyer and politician as their 44th president. Senator Barack Obama and his vice-presidential running mate, Joe Biden, both from the Democratic Party, defeated the Republicans John McCain, Sarah Palin in the same year of the Cristiano Ronaldo era. Starting at Manchester United for five years now, the footballer won the first Ballon d’Or of his career, making him the third Portuguese to be considered the best player in the world, after Eusébio and Luís Figo. But it wasn’t all good news. The international financial crisis, which had begun in 2007, gained momentum and leapt from the financial pages of newspapers to the headlines. It worsened with the bankruptcy of US investment bank, Lehman Brothers, the first to succumb since the beginning of the crisis. On October 02 it was official: the worst global financial crisis since 1929 was with us.
P. Angelo Giordaro
2009
More than a pilot, a hero. On January 15, Chelsey Sullenberger made the difficult decision to ditch US Airways flight A-320 in the Hudson River, right in the middle of New York City, after detecting faults in the plane’s engines. It was like a scene from a movie: no life was lost and he received a standing ovation for the feat. In June, the World Health Organization declared influenza A (H1N1), known as ‘swine flu’, to be a pandemic, the first pandemic of the 21st century and the third millennium. In August, Portugal lost one of its finest performers: Raul Solnado, comedian, television presenter and actor died, aged 79, of cardiovascular disease. And on November 25, the man who was known as the «King of Pop» was taken to hospital in Los Angeles, following cardiac arrest. Michael Jackson did not survive. He was 50 years old. In October, Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, news that surprised both him and the international community. In his speech at the award ceremony, the American president advocated sending more soldiers to Afghanistan.
2010
In February, a storm hit Madeira Island, causing 47 deaths, and leaving 600 people homeless and 250 injured. Three months later, the country received a visit from Pope Benedict XVI, the main purpose of which was to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the Fátima shepherds (Francisco and Jacinta Marto), and to meet with the dioceses of Oporto, Leiria-Fátima and Lisbon. Also in the same month, on May 17, the Portuguese president promulgated an important law: Portugal became the eighth country in the world to perform same-sex civil marriages. On the other side of the ocean, in October, Brazil elected its first woman president, Dilma Rousseff. And on December 18, a tide of revolution rose up in the Middle East and North Africa, known as the Arab Spring. The repression of some governments led to protests of civil resistance, demonstrations, rallies and the use of social networks, a tool that played a crucial role in the resignation of leaders, several decades in power.
2011 
Without preamble, the news came in: ten years after the September 11 attacks, US President Barack Obama announced the death of Osama bin Laden, leader of the Al Qaeda terrorist organisation, captured in a hideout in Pakistan. Following the start of the Arab Spring, Libyan dictator Muammar al-Kadafi also died. British singer Amy Winehouse, at 27, died from alcohol poisoning and American Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, died of cancer. In Japan, an accident at the Fukushima I power plant became the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. Meanwhile, Portugal was going through troubled times. On April 06, Prime Minister José Sócrates announced the country needed to ask for external financial aid. He did so after Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, then finance minister, said in an interview that it was «necessary to resort to the financing mechanisms available within the European framework», thus defending the request for a bailout from the Troika, without Socrates’ knowledge. But it wasn’t all bad. That year, Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto de Moura received the Pritzker Prize, an award considered the Nobel of Architecture.
2012
With rising unemployment and the deepening of the economic crisis in Europe, the year began and ended in uncertainty. Abroad, Barack Obama was re-elected president of the United States and the UN recognised Palestine as a «non-member observer state». The scientific community also caused a stir when the existence of the «Higgs Boson» was confirmed. Also known as «the God particle», originator of the mass of all other particles, its confirmation represented an important step in understanding the origin of the Universe. 2012 was also the year in which names such as singer Whitney Houston, astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer died. The year was also marked by the sinking of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia, off the coast of Isola del Giglio, in the Tuscany region, after it hit a rock following an unsuccessful manoeuvre by the captain Francesco Schettino, one of the first to abandon ship. Thirty-two people died. Finally, Queen Elizabeth II, head of the monarchy of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee in style.
2013
The surprises, decisions and revelations in 2013 were plentiful. Pope Benedict XVI abdicated his pontificate, something that had not happened since the 13th century. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the first Latin American Pope, the first non-European Pope in 1200 years, the first Jesuit Pope, was elected as his successor. He was also the first leader of the Catholic Church to choose the name Francis, a reference to St Francis of Assisi. In science, lab-grown meat – produced by in vitro culture of animal cells – began in the early 2000s, but the first burger made with cultured meat was not introduced until 2013. Edward Snowden’s revelations, meanwhile, brought the matter of spying into the public domain and changed the way we attach importance to digital life, especially data protection and privacy. The allegations of global surveillance made by the analyst to some media, in which he accused the USA and UK of illegally watching and spying on governments and companies of several countries through their electronic means, generated global outrage. This was also the year of the death of Nelson Mandela, political leader who stood out against Apartheid in South Africa.
2014
Unsurprisingly, Cristiano Ronaldo was named best player in the world again and was made a Grand Officer of the Order of Prince Henry the Navigator, by the President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva. An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus occurred in West Africa, causing huge loss of life and consequent social and economic changes, especially in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Football also mourned the death, at 71, of Eusébio, the Black Panther, after he suffered cardiorespiratory arrest. Colombian writer Gabriel García Marquez, was also lost to the world, at 87. In March, the autonomous region of Crimea, in southern Ukraine, approved, by referendum, its ‘annexation’ to Russia. On November 21, former Portuguese prime minister José Sócrates was arrested on suspicion of corruption, wilful tax fraud and money laundering. And, with the year almost at its end, in a historic moment, the USA announced that it would resume diplomatic relations with Cuba, after 53 years of economic, trade and financial embargo.
2015

Al-Qaeda once again unleashed its terror. That year, it was France that suffered the most. Between January 07 and 09, terrorists killed a total of 17 people in an attack that began at the headquarters of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Ten months later, Paris was again living in fear of terrorism. In November, 130 people died at the hands of a group linked to ISIS. Three suicide bombers blew themselves up outside the Stade de France in Saint-Denis. Another group fired on cafes and restaurants. A third carried out a shooting during a concert at the Bataclan concert hall. But that year, the French capital also became a historic landmark for the signing of an agreement to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, which involved every country in the world. In Portugal, the filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira died at the age of 106, but the country also saw the birth of the «geringonça» government. The PSD/CDS coalition took the general election, albeit without an absolute majority. However, the PS, which had come second, brokered the first ever agreement to the Left in democracy and thus managed to form a government, together with PCP, BE and PEV.
2016
With an absolute majority, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa won the presidential elections that year. In May, the Marão Tunnel was opened, the longest on the Iberian Peninsula. The leak known as the «Panama Papers» proved to be one of the biggest tax evasion scandals ever, involving millions of documents about offshore companies. In Portugal, in the 109th minute, Éder received the ball from João Moutinho and scored the goal that gave Portugal the title of European Football Champion. The United Kingdom, in a historic referendum, decided to leave the European Union. In November, the American people chose a businessman and former reality show star to be the 45th USA president. Donald Trump became the most powerful man in the world, defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton. Shortly afterwards, the Websummit arrived in Portugal, bringing together more than 50,000 people at Parque das Nações in Lisbon to discuss major technological innovations and entrepreneurship. The death of the former Cuban president, Fidel Castro, at the age of 90, also garnered international attention, as did the crash of the plane chartered by Chapecoense football club on the night of November 28. Almost the entire team that was on board died.
2017 
The moment brought prestige to Portugal: António Guterres began a five-year term as Secretary-General of the United Nations, choosing climate as one of his priorities. Salvador Sobral won the Eurovision Song Contest with the song Amar pelos Dois, becoming the first Portuguese performer to achieve the feat. Emmanuel Macron took office at the age of 39, to date the youngest president in French history. It was also in 2017 that Mário Soares, Portuguese politician and former president of Portugal, died, aged 92. The terrible fires of June, in Pedrógão Grande, and October, in 27 municipalities in the central region, will forever remain in the memory of the Portuguese and the world. The flames took more than 100 people, 500 businesses destroyed and around 500,000 hectares were burnt. It was the biggest forest fire ever in Portugal, the deadliest in the country’s history and the 11th deadliest worldwide, since 1900. In October, after a series of accusations of sexual abuse, powerful film producer Harvey Weinstein was fired from the company he founded and expelled from the Hollywood Academy. This was the trigger for the growth of the #MeToo movement, which has led to the reporting of thousands of cases of sexual abuse in several countries.
2018
Portugal hosted the Eurovision Song Contest for the first time. On May 19, Prince Harry became the first member of the British royal family to marry an African-American woman. Meghan Markle, actress, divorced, is now the Duchess of Sussex. In June, for the first time in history, a sitting USA president met with a leader of North Korea. Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un shook hands in front of the flags of both countries on Sentosa Island in Singapore. August saw the death of the Queen of Soul, singer Aretha Franklin. On October 28, the second round of general elections were held in Brazil that would go onto elect Jair Bolsonaro as president of the Republic. 2018 was also the year that João Sousa became the first Portuguese tennis player to win the Estoril Open and that Fernando Pimenta became world champion in canoeing. The fire at the Brazilian National Museum destroyed almost the entire collection on the country’s natural history. The building was the former residence of the Portuguese royal family in Rio de Janeiro.
2019
Impactful: this was the year when Greta Thunberg, the Swedish activist, became the voice of all those who wanted to fight climate change. She was at the origin of the FridaysForFuture youth movement, which spread to various parts of the globe, leading young people to demonstrate in the streets. They gave powerful speeches in front of political leaders from around the world. One of the most striking took place in September, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, where Thunberg accused world leaders of betrayal and passivity in the face of the environmental crisis. «How dare you?», she repeated several times. The images of the violent fire that partially destroyed Notre Dame Cathedral, in Paris, also left a huge impression. Juan Guaidó, president of Venezuela’s National Assembly and self-proclaimed interim president of the country, launched an offensive to try to overthrow Nicolás Maduro’s government. The plan failed. At 67, Portuguese-Brazilian singer-songwriter Roberto Leal, ambassador of Portuguese culture in Brazil, died. And on December 31, the World Health Organisation reports dozens of infections from a viral pneumonia, of unknown cause, in the city of Wuhan, China.
2020
Severe and deadly, the infectious disease caused by the acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) spread rapidly around the world leading to the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. In Portugal, the first case arrived on March 02 and the World Health Organisation declared a pandemic a few days later. COVID-19 paralysed the planet, has killed millions of people and led several governments to declare successive states of emergency, compulsory lockdowns, among other drastic measures. But this was also the year when, in the USA protests against racism broke out and reverberated around the world after the death of George Floyd: a black man suffocated by a white policeman in a police operation in Minneapolis. In August, several explosions at a warehouse containing ammonium nitrate in the port of Beirut, Lebanon, left more than a hundred dead. In November, Joe Biden won the presidential election, while Kamala Harris was elected the first woman, the first black and the first Asian-American to hold the office of USA vice president. Trump was defeated. On December 02, the UK became the first nation to approve a vaccine against COVID-19 when it approved the Pfizer-BioNTech BNT162b2 vaccine.
2021
The year may not yet be over, but there is much to say about it. On January 06, a group of Donald Trump supporters, convened by him, stormed the USA congress in Washington to protest against the result of the 2020 presidential election, claiming that voter fraud had led to the defeat of the then president. Over here, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was  president, unsurprisingly. The United Kingdom officially ceased to be part of the European Union. In March, Francis landed in Iraq for the first visit of a pope to that country. In April, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died aged 99 in the UK and Raúl Castro resigned as first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, ending more than 62 years of the Castro brothers’ rule in Cuba. In April, the US courts convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin of the murder of George Floyd, in a landmark trial. In May, the actress Maria João Abreu died of an aneurysm. Recently, the former president of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, died, at the age of 81, of respiratory problems. These two decades began and (almost) ended on the same theme. In August, US president Joe Biden announced the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of intervention and the Taliban regained control of the country. Villas&Golfe, which has been with you since the attacks that led to that military intervention, is also turning 20. We will continue together, with you by our side, to relate and be part of history, of Portugal and the world.
T. Filomena Abreu
P. Rights Reserved
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