Outspoken communist MP Paulo Sá has made a controversial statement, suggesting the Ria Formosa demolitions being carried out are part of a bigger plan to clear up the land for “luxury tourist developments”.
Speaking to Lusa news agency last weekend, the PCP politician said that the €17 million operation to raze 808 dwellings to the ground throughout the coming year was all to clear away the fishermen and their homes and make room for “high-class touristic investments”.
Sá believes there is “little transparency as to what the government is doing” and suggested that there are “powerful economic interests” at work behind the scenes, which “threaten” the traditional economic activities carried out by islanders in the Ria Formosa.
To get a closer and more personal look into the situation, the politician met with two groups of residents from Culatra and Farol islands this Saturday (January 10).
“There is a serious feeling of extreme concern and outrage among these people,” Sá told us.
“Demolitions have already begun and people still haven’t been told what will happen to them,” he added.
Although the government has said that alternative housing will be arranged for everyone whose main home is being torn down, the MP says he knows that some people are being left out of the government’s promise.
He gave the example of islander Carlos Estevão, whose home is to be levelled as his wife has one in her name in Faro – but that is in fact the home of their son.
This isn’t just a “one-off” situation, he said. Many other islanders face similar plights and fear they will end up “homeless”.
And while homeowners along Ria Formosa’s islands were given five days to complain about the demolitions, many letters sent out by islanders remain “unanswered”, the MP revealed.
He also stressed that the government has chosen to “destroy to return the land to nature” instead of “renovating the housing and supporting the economic activity related to the estuary”.
Thus he questioned why the government is moving forward with the demolitions but has scrapped other measures that could support the local economy such as dredging channels.
Paulo Sá is scheduled to hold two more meetings with Ria Formosa islanders – one this afternoon with islanders from Ilha dos Angaros and another next week with residents from Faro’s islands.
Meantime, demolitions have already begun on the 43 ‘illegal’ homes on Ilhote do Coco, in Olhão.
In December, bulldozers had already rolled into Ramalhete to destroy 32 homes, followed by 18 on Ilhote de Cobra.
By MICHAEL BRUXO [email protected]