Ria Formosa demolitions STOPPED in the name of the shy chameleon

The community of Farol, on Culatra Island, is celebrating tonight to such an extent that almost no calls from the mainland are getting through. The reason is that the long-feared demolitions – ordered by the government and threatening the way of life of so many families – have been stopped by order of Loulé’s administrative court.

The news came through this afternoon and sent Farol nucleus into party mode.

Even campaigner Vanessa Morgado who has become the Joan of Arc in this titanic struggle that at times seemed impossible to win couldn’t get through to her parents on the island.

She’d travelled to Olhão to take her daughter to a dance class when she received the news.

“This shows all the efforts we went to were worth it”, she told us. “This is a truly wonderful day!”

The court’s decision – made on the embargo cited by Olhão mayor António Pina and centering on the need to save shy chameleon that lives in the gardens of many of the islanders’ homes will come as a huge slap in the face to Polis Litoral which has doggedly maintained that the demolition of 800 homes was in the public interest.

Changing their reasoning so many times that even they didn’t seem to know why the demolitions were going ahead, Polis president Sebastião Teixeira justified them to the Resident recently saying: “How would you feel if a family suddenly turned up to live in your garden”.

As we tried to explain, Ria Formosa’s families have lived on their islands in many cases for generations.

Thus the shy cameleon cited by Mayor Pina has saved a way of life.

Read more about this modern-day Daniel v. Goliath victory tomorrow.

For now, the Resident will be joining the islanders vicariously in celebration – and leave you with the video of one of their last protests – a gathering of over a 1000 people which most Portuguese newspapers described as “a protest of 500”.

By Natasha Donn