The truth behind the Ria Formosa island clearance may soon be revealed in the form of a model.
At the Social Democrat Party’s annual ‘Festa do Pontal’ bash in Quarteira, at the end of the summer of 2014, a select few of the party’s hierarchy were shown a maquette, or model, of a high-quality tourism development and marina planned at Farol on the southern side of Culatra island.
This high-class development, kept secret from the public while the island clearances and eradication of homes are being carried out, may be the key reason that ‘Demolition Man’ Sebastião Teixeira from Polis Ria Formosa has been given extraordinary management leeway and political cover to get the job done, whatever the human cost.
Left Bloc MP João Vasconcelos spent six hours on Culatra on Saturday, October 1st, to hear first hand about the intolerable pressure the islanders have been subjected to in a Portugal that purports to be a caring democracy.
As the MP walked around, talking to locals, he was shown one first home whose elderly occupant had received an eviction notice - the home is her only one and it had been in the family since the early 1900s - and where bulldozers are due to tear down the structure at the end of this month "at no cost ot the occupant".
Other properties Vasconcellos was shown were well outside the 40 metre Public Maritime Domain and these too will be torn down in a matter of weeks. The group spent some time on the southern shoreline viewing the much altered state of the beach, affectected by dredging which was meant somehow to preserve the island but has had an adverse affect.
Vasconcelos concluded that the only 'risk factor' for the islanders, one of the wafer thin excuses used by the government to knock down properties is that the population are all going to drown in their beds, was from the work done so far and the demolition orders issued last week.
This point and others, Vasconcelos will make to a now weakened Minister of the Environment next week in parliament.
The Portimão MP concluded that an immediate ban on any further demolitions should be imposed, the intent also of the Green Party, and said on behalf of the Left Bloc:
“if the government continues ignoring the people I cannot see how long the parties like ours can go on supporting them.”
The Greens already have seen through the government’s lies and deceit and called last week for an immediate halt to demolitions so that the subject of the Ria Formosa islanders can be treated with some dignity, truth and objectivity.
But the revelation that a model of a major development on Culatra already exists and was seen as far back as 2014 by senior PSD party chiefs, brings an added ingredient and helps explain much of the animosity of successive governments towards the inconvenient inhabitants of the now sought-after islands.
MPs now formally can demand of Pedro Passos Coelho the names of those who saw the model of the proposed development, what agreements exist and what contracts already have been signed, what are the terms and conditions, has the Court of Auditors reviewed the content and why has this only just come to the notice of the media and MPs, even though such a development has been on the cards for years?
The demonic lust for demolition displayed by Sebastião Teixeira of Polis Ria Formosa has troubled many MPs but their arses have remained firmly glued to their seats in parliament, trusting in successive environment ministers’ judgement and grasp of the relevant legislation.
Vasconcelos, true to form, took time to visit Culatra to see the situation first hand and discovered for himself that Polis, the Minister for the Environment and the government all have been guilty of a grand deceit.
Elements of the Algarve’s press have long insisted that there was more to these island clearances than health and safety, no one has ever before bothered about these communities, and that the motivation is likely to be big money, some of which inevitably will stick to palms as high-class tourism projects progress.
The conclusion is that there is a huge development planned and the islanders in the settlement of Farol are right in its way.
As for the model, the islanders know who saw it, but can this political cover-up continue?