Today (Monday) saw Culatra islanders once again fighting for their lives as riot police were understood to be on their way to the island.
The decision by what all agree was “a very brave judge” to block the government-backed plan to demolish 800 homes has not been taken lying down by reviled ‘environmental agency’ Polis Litoral.
As over a thousand people took part in possibly the largest public protest that the Algarve has ever seen last Saturday, Polis were working hard behind the scenes on a way to get the judge’s decision declared null and void.
In a statement released late on Sunday evening, Polis informed select newspapers that it was going to lodge “fundamental resolutions” with the administrative court in Loulé this morning to “block the embargos”.
Repeating again – many would argue erroneously – that the homes have been “built illegally” on Public Maritime Land, Polis’ statement says it is “secure” that it is complying with “all legal dispositions” and that it is acting in a “decisive way to improve the environment, resilience and economic sustainability of Ria Formosa”.
It adds that the homes to be demolished are “relatively recent, the majority being part of constructions post-1978”.
The fact that this time-scale has seen two new generations born to the island appears to have meant very little to Polis, but intriguingly it makes all the difference to islanders who are now fighting not only for their homes, but the futures of their children and grandchildren.
One young ‘islander’ whose parents have lived on Farol since she was a baby, told us in the early hours of Monday morning: “We have all been in a meeting all night. Everything is in a state of alert. Polis wants to show they are above the law. It looks like Monday will not be easy. Come what may, we are ready for war!”
This morning, she texted us to say: “Things are getting worse. We have just heard that riot police are on their way in a semi-rigid boat. I will call you as soon as I can.”
The Resident will thus update news as it comes.
This has been a fight from the start, as islanders claim the government message that they are “illegal” is bogus. Most of the families living on Culatra, Hangares and Farol nuclei went there on government/State business in the last century.
But more to the point is that these people are “part of the environment”, as Culatra homeowners’ association president Sylvia Padinha told us when we began our reports on this crisis (see https://www.portugalresident.com/%E2%80%9Cbarefaced-lies%E2%80%9D-the-truth-behind-environmental-plans-to-cleanse-ria-formosa-of-its-resident).
Perhaps the government’s biggest “mistake” in this whole agonising process that has seen islanders take their demonstrations to parliament on two occasions has been to take on people who know what it is to fight for their lives. As fishermen, and families of fishermen, they put their lives on the line every time the island boats set out to sea.