Battling Ria Formosa islanders determined to save their homes from government bulldozers have declared last Friday’s protest in Lisbon a “victory” – despite the fact that every one of them was forcibly removed from the public galleries of parliament.
“The result was predictable,” campaigner and local estate agent Vanessa Morgado told us. “We are now all aware that this situation has nothing to do with the environment. It is simply a question of politics,” with the government using “strong-arm tactics to show that it holds the power”.
The young mother-of-one whose parents live on Farol – and whose family home is under orders to vacate on April 24 – added that MPs “Cristovão Norte (PSD) and Artur Rego (CDS) have already told us ‘we cannot stop the demolitions as it would be a loss of millions for the Portuguese State’.
“By that we understand perfectly that someone has put the money in their pocket and needs to justify the millions with the demolitions.”
As the clock ticks towards the next big day – ironically scheduled for Portugal’s Dia da Liberdade (the anniversary of the April 25 revolution) – the so-called “intimidation” of islanders continues.
“Even on Friday, Sebastião Teixeira (the man leading the works in the name of Polis Litoral) arrived at Farol with a bodyguard, and a smile on his face … taking measurements – as if this was the consequence of islanders showing their indignation,” said Vanessa.
“It is intimidation after intimidation,” she stressed. “But we shall not give up. Our protests will continue.” Lawyers acting for the islanders are “ready” to issue new legal bids to halt the demolitions “at any moment”, she said.
“We’re on maximum alert. It is as if we were at war and expected the enemy to attack at any time. In the end, the Portuguese State is no more than the enemy,” she added.
It is a desperate condemnation of a country that approaches its 41st year as a democracy.
The young real estate saleswoman referred to the icy comments of leader of the house Assunção Esteves as she ordered the expulsion of islanders from the visitors’ gallery last week.
“I thank (her) for explaining to us that we were not in the street, as the people you meet in the street have a lot more respect for us than all those MPs who, during the entire debate on our future, were on Facebook…”
For more background to this story, see our report: https://www.portugalresident.com/barefaced-lies-the-truth-behind-environmental-plans-to-cleanse-ria-formosa-of-its-resident-islanders/
By NATASHA DONN [email protected]