Silent anti-toll protest marks end of prime minister’s Algarve holidays

Hoping that he will never return to the Algarve as Prime Minister again, anti-toll group CUVI held a protest in front of the holiday home of Pedro Passos Coelho on Saturday (August 22) in Manta Rota.

Apart from delivering a “farewell letter” to the PM, the protest also meant to highlight the “social and economic tragedies” that CUVI claims the tolls imposed by Passos Coelho’s government on the previously free-access A22 motorway have caused.

It was a muted event, in all aspects. Only 10 people took part, and there was no heckling. As the group’s leader João Vasconcelos explained, that was the point. “It was a silent protest” designed not to bother the PM’s wife Laura Ferreira who is recovering from her latest round of chemotherapy as she battles bone cancer.

Vasconcelos said CUVI only wanted to deliver a “farewell letter” to the PM, and remind him of the tragic accidents that have happened on the EN125 since the A22 became “out of bounds” to most drivers, due to the heavy expense of the tolls.

Although Passos Coelho has said his party would lower the cost of the tolls if it returns to power after the elections, CUVI says this is still not acceptable.

“We want the tolls ditched once and for all, otherwise the deaths, accidents and economic and mobility problems will just continue,” Vasconcelos explained.

Last week CUVI visited Aldeia da Coelha in Albufeira to “thank” President Cavaco Silva for all the “good things” he has done for the Algarve – including “allowing the government to toll the A22 highway”. Cavaco also received a sarcastic “farewell letter”.

Days earlier, the group held an anti-toll debate that was attended by around 100 people, including anti-corruption champion and presidential candidate Paulo Morais as guest speaker.