Ria Formosa islanders have a metaphorical gun at their heads. On October 27 – despite huge support for them throughout the Algarve – government-backed agency Sociedade Polis will be turning for a third attempt to seize homes for summary demolition.
But while the prospect has stomachs in knots, and is causing sleepless nights once again in the threatened communities of Culatra island known as Farol and Hangares, campaigners running the SOS Ria Formosa Facebook page have worked a miracle.
They are getting threatened islanders to laugh, and thus keeping collective spirits high.
A couple of days ago, a clip of American President Obama was uploaded onto the site.
He was deriding the ‘Republican nominee for president’ for being unfit, not having “basic knowledge of critical issues” – and while we all know this was in reference to Donald Trump’s historic bid for the US presidency, SOS Ria Formosa was clearly poking fun at the President of Sociedade Polis, Sebastião Teixeira, whose bias against islanders has become the stuff of legends.
Even last week, Teixeira was being described as an “executioner” determined to flatten islanders homes, with the help of military force if necessary.
Farol association president Feliciano Júlio told the public court convened by PCP MP Paulo Sá that Teixeira means “to demolish without rules, without listening to mayors, without listening to associations, only because he wants to attack the weakest link, which is us”.
But the islanders remain resolute.
The countdown continues, and so does their instance on trying to keep each other laughing.
Today, comes the mocked-up photo of prime minister António Costa in parliament, supposedly talking to one of his staff from behind the A4-size proposal presented by islanders to environment minister Matos Fernandes as an alternative to mass demolitions.
“Ask Matos Fernandes if he has read it”, says the speech bubble. “I’m told it’s very good, and I think it makes sense. Oh, and tell him I don’t want any problems on the 27th…”
Thus the inspired Internet campaign continues towards a new weekend.
There are 13 more days to go before what islanders call “the extermination of what is left of the people of Ria Formosa” and that leaves 13 more days for creative talents to highlight this regional issue of social injustice.