President Marcelo breaks bread in Lisbon’s most notorious ‘hood’

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa visited one of Lisbon’s most notorious neighbourhoods yesterday, enjoying lunch with the locals and listening to problems centering on the looming eviction of thousands.

Appealing to the government and local council “to find a solution”, Marcelo’s two-hour visit also served to show that Cova da Moura is not simply a ghetto marked by violence, as described by a BBC television documentary.

Only last year, a report by the Beeb’s correspondent James Fletcher, described how police have been accused of brutality and racism against the largely black inhabitants of Cova da Moura.

In his report entitled “They hate black people”, Fletcher interviewed locals who affirmed police “treat us like we are here to be exterminated”.

But Marcelo exercised his natural talent for charm, and had Cova da Moura’s locals beaming and in his customary warm embrace within minutes.

Taking selfies with young people, eating the hood’s customary dish of cachupa – a slow-cooked stew of corn, beans and meat – he appeared totally on locals’ side, saying the solution has to be one that does not see “around 5000 families” being uprooted from the homes established by “retornados” who flooded into Portugal as the country liberated its colonies.

The authorities “have to have the notion that these are lives that have been rooted here for a long, long, long time, and it is not possible to take these lives and relocate them elsewhere”, he told reporters.

Coincidentally, the news comes as in the Algarve, Ria Formosa islanders also facing eviction from their homes of generations learnt that the November 8 deadline was going to pass without anyone receiving eviction orders as the government works on finding a replacement for Polis Litoral’s former ‘demolition man’ Sebastião Teixeira.

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Photo: © 2016 Presidência da República Portuguesa