Left-wing ‘firebrand’ says government data supporting Ria Formosa demolitions “cannot be trusted”

Three days from the latest ‘compulsory seizure’ of homes for demolition on Ria Formosa’s embattled Culatra island, left-wing firebrand Catarina Martins has put the cat among the pigeons.

The data the government has supporting the plan “cannot be trusted”, she told television journalists as she met with campaigning islanders.

The reasons government agency Polis Litoral put forward during the last executive to support the demolition of people’s only homes also “cannot be trusted”, she added.

In fact the whole process appears to be one that has “nothing to do with environmental problems and everything to do with property speculation”.

The feisty left-bloc coordinator is just the latest outraged voice demanding an end to the whole Ria Formosa demolitions process.

Flanked by fellow MP João Vasconcelos, who visited the islands in October last year (click here), she said it has been “badly thought through since the very beginning” and should “not be hurried through”.

It needs to be stopped, Martins stressed – pointing out in plain language that once a home is demolished, “there is nothing to recover the loss”.

“Some of these houses (due to be bulldozed) are the only home of families who have no other alternative”, she added. “Nobody has spoken to these people, and no one here knows the criteria that determines these houses have to be demolished”.

It was another valiant attempt to stand up for a community that has always felt like David up against Goliath.

Only last month, BE’s ‘ally’ in partnership with the government, the PCP, were in force on the island saying very much the same thing: that property speculation is behind the unpopular plan, and nothing islanders do seems to be able to rid them of the threat of mass demolitions (click here).

For now, islanders’ hopes rest on the combined forces of Martins, Vasconcelos’, Paulo Sá and PCP leader Jerónimo Sousa.

“We know they cannot promise us anything”, said campaigner Vanessa Morgado. “But we have to wait and see what happens”.

Meantime, the ‘compulsory seizure’ due to go ahead on Wednesday will be met by a posse of protestors who appeal to as many supporters as possible to turn up on the island on the early morning ferry.

For more details, see SOS Ria Formosa’s facebook page, under ‘upcoming event’.

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