Culatra islanders have won another battle in their long-running fight for their homes, with parliament approving a new law which will soon allow them to apply for a 30-year residency licence.
In other words, the licence will give islanders the peace of mind they have lacked for years and the legal guarantee that their homes won’t be bulldozed to the ground.
President of Culatra residents’ association Sílvia Padinha told Lusa news agency it is an “important measure” that meets what islanders have been demanding.
According to the new rules, each householder will enjoy 30 years of residence if their bid for residency is approved.
When the period is up, the licence will be renewed for another 30 years as long as the owner is still linked to fishing or other island-based activities or if the island home is their only property.
Another key point is that the licence can be passed down to the islanders’ children.
Islanders also believe that these new residency rules will help stop property speculation, as homeowners won’t be able to sell their properties to others.
Says Padinha, around 1,000 people are waiting for the new rules to be implemented so that they can “normalise their situation”.
As the new law states, Culatra island is a “fishing community with historical roots and clear evidence of long-standing occupation” and boasts a “social, economic and cultural status that deserves recognition and appreciation”.
Despite the cloud that has hung over them for years, islanders always refused to budge an inch from their homes which in many cases they have had for generations.