Ria Formosa: Islanders stage demonstration in front of Parliament

Hundreds of islanders are expected to stage a protest in front of Parliament on Friday (March 6) calling for the immediate suspension of the controversial demolitions taking place throughout the Algarve’s Ria Formosa.

Islanders hope the demonstration will be another step forwards – after news that Loulé’s Administrative and Fiscal Court has ruled in favour of three of their injunctions placed against Polis Litoral in a bid to stop bulldozers that have been destroying their homes.

Organised by the residents associations of Culatra, Hangares and Farol islands, the demonstration will coincide with the voting of two proposals from the Socialist (PS) and Communist (PCP) parties also demanding suspension of the works that have seen families reduced to living rough on nearby Olhão docks.

“We want the government to see the people whose homes they are tearing down,” José Mendes of the Farol association told Correio da Manhã.

The furore that the demolitions have caused has already led 20 islanders to file injunctions against Polis Litoral – seven of which have not been successful. Ten more are still awaiting judicial decision.

Meantime, head of Polis Litoral Sebastião Teixeira claims the state-funded society has been doing everything by the book – only tearing down the homes the court allows it to.

“In the cases in which the court ruled in favour of an injunction, we stopped. In the cases that it didn’t, we continued (the demolitions),” Teixeira said.

In the three cases where it was ordered to stop, the court said that Polis had “failed to demonstrate that the suspension of the demolitions would be seriously prejudicial to public interest”.

The court has also stressed that the demolitions are not needed “urgently”.

Olhão mayor António Pina said the court’s decision proves the council has been right all along.

“It’s sad to see that the Portuguese government and the Ministry of Environment, through Polis, are not able to respect people’s rights,” he told Lusa.

He added that he had warned environment minister Jorge Moreira da Silva that problems would come from the controversial bulldozing, but was effectively “ignored”.

Pina said the court’s decisions are yet more “proof” that there is a lot more to be sorted through before socially-deprived families are left, as many have been, to fend for themselves.

Polis and the government have always maintained that they are only tearing down what they call ‘second homes’ – but as all the stories this far have shown, this has not been the case at all.

By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]

Photo: Machines at work in Praia de Faro. Picture taken on Sunday by Zé Amaro, president of the Moto Clube de Faro (organisers of the annual bikers’ meeting in the city), who has slammed the Ria Formosa demolitions.

Photo by: Zé Amaro