An innocuous clause in a coalition “proposal” due to be discussed in parliament shortly suggests a warning about “a hidden agenda” behind ongoing demolitions of fishermen’s homes along Ria Formosa could be frighteningly valid.
As hundreds of desperately upset islanders heard last week that the PSD/CDS-PP government refuses to reconsider demolition work that is leaving families homeless, a proposal put forward by the parliamentary majority reveals a worrying sentence that shows PCP MP Paulo Sá may have had every reason to suggest the government is playing dirty.
Sá claimed in January that the controversial demolitions – ordered in the name of environmental safety – were nothing more than a ruse to oust fishermen and their families from the islands in order to make way for “high-class touristic investments” further on down the line.
His contentions were denounced by PSD politicians. Algarve MP Elsa Cordeiro called them “pure fantasy”, while colleague Cristóvão Norte said Sá was talking about something that was “extremely complex”.
Now, however, Lusa has dropped the bombshell – sugar-coated in a story headlined “PSD and CDS present project to value Ria Formosa”.
Among various recommendations involving messages of “caution” over sending islanders to a new life on the streets, Lusa writes: “the proposal, by the parliamentary majority that sustains the government, recommends the executive candidate Ria Formosa’s natural park to receive “European certification of sustainable tourism in a protected area”.
This is precisely what Paulo Sá warned against (see: https://www.portugalresident.com/heartbreak-in-paradise-as-government-tears-down-islanders%E2%80%99-homes).
He told the Resident in January that there were “powerful economic interests at work” and that the government mantra that these demolitions were environmentally necessary was all part of the conspiracy.
Today he told us: “This little sentence is far from innocent. What it means is that the government is planning what it calls ‘renaturalisation’ of the islands, and then it will apply for EU funding available for sustainable tourism, opening the way to high-end developments. It is all well planned.”
Indeed Sá suggests the next Algarve area to be ‘renaturalised’ and then offered for VIP developments will be Ludo, near Faro.
For now, Ria Formosa islanders appear to be outnumbered.
Despite a court ruling in favour of three of their legal bids to save families’ only homes, the demolitions are set to continue.
The news was confirmed last Friday, as 400 islanders protested outside parliament, wearing t-shirts proclaiming “Je Suis Ilhéu” (I am an islander).
The PSD/CDS-PP majority vetoed three opposition bids to suspend the levelling of any remaining homes – and took the opportunity to propose its own ‘project’, which included the sentence about seeking certification for sustainable tourism.
Wrapped round the sentence were others, calling for “more caution” in the way Polis is carrying out the bulldozing, and care to ensure demolitions do not affect the “cultural and historical aspects” of Culatra Island.
Islanders, meantime, are understandably unconvinced that any of this has anything to do with the environment.
In their desperation to protect their homes and lifestyles, they have launched a petition that has already amassed over 2,500 signatures.
Click here for petition: https://secure.avaaz.org/po/petition/Assembleia_da_Republica_Portuguesa_Parem_imediatamente_com_as_demolicoes_na_Ria_Formosa_1/?czxqMab
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]
Photo by: ANTÓNIO COTRIM/LUSA