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Ria Formosa protestors accuse Government of ‘social terrorism’

olhaoprotesttearsThe estimated 800 demolitions planned on the Ria Formosa islands continue to provoke strong protests from those being made homeless.

After hundreds attended a protest meeting last month in the municipal auditorium in Olhão, with the support of members of the Socialist and Communist parties, this Wednesday the deputy Minister for Regional Development, Miguel Poiares Maduro, was greeted on arrival at Faro’s 'Teatro das Figuras' by noisy and upset protestors.

Maduro arrived to present the 'Community Support Framework 2020'  but on arrival was faced with a crowd of islanders, most of whom had received a letter from the Society Polis Ria Formosa instructing them to move out of their properties which were due for demolition. No alternative housing provision has been made and some now are even sleeping rough in Olhão docks.

The situation is close to riot, warned José Lezinho, a fisherman from Hangares and slogans written on banners referred to “Social Terrorism", "1st House Destroyed" and "Homeless."

The protestors were angry, bewildered at their evictions and some were in tears, shouting at the minister as police moved to protect him.  

Poiares Maduro was asked by reporters to comment on his unwelcomed reception but he replied only with a "no comment"  which many saw as a confirmation of the government's stance that the poor will always be with us, should be ignored at all times unless there are votes in it  and these ones can just sleep rough. 

On Thursday, outside the CCDR-Algarve building in Faro, the head of this regional development body David Santos, ministers Poiares Maduro and Jorge Moreira da Silva (Environment) and the Faro mayor, Rogério Bacalhau, were booed by residents of the islands, but not one of these public officials would offer even a comment on a social situation they have helped to create and one that seems not conveniently to be going away.

Local pressure group, the social media forum Olhão Livre, commented that the ‘terrorism’ is not only social but also is environmental and economic as those dependent on the Ria Formosa see daily pollution from untreated sewage which poisons the waters where people are working to grow and harvest the area's famous shellfish.

The Ria is polluted, all the officials now have had to admit this, and most of the shellfish nurseries have been downgraded due to poor water quality. The workers receive no compensation when pollution forces a harvesting ban – now most of them also will lose their houses.

Olhão Livre says that in the case of the demolitions, the programme should immediately be suspended and reviewed with public participation including those affected.

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Secondly, the pollution, which is easily identifiable, should be stopped and those that continue to allow sewage and industrial waste into the Ria Formosa area should be treated like any other polluter and fined.

Thirdly, AmbiOlhão was granted €500,000 to prevent the sewage spilling into the Ria Formosa from the local sewer by the passenger pier entrance; where is this money as it clearly has not been spent on the designated purpose after 16 months.

For as long as the government ignores the plight of these citizens and the illegal dumping of sewage and toxic substances into the Ria Formosa, the groundswell of opinion and protest will continue and grow.

 

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A petition now has been launched on Avaaz:

https://secure.avaaz.org/po/petition/Assembleia_da_Republica_Portuguesa_Parem_imediatamente_com_as_demolicoes_na_Ria_Formosa_1/?czxqMab

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Comments  

+1 #3 Ed 2015-02-22 07:54
Quoting Riedmüller:
It all started decades ago when there was the first fisherman to set up a shak because he didn´t want to go home the same day, then there was the next fisherman and so on, which ended in hundreds living in illigal conditions, quite often stealing water and electricity from public source.

Many are happy to leave the islands, realising the houses are illegal. Many also have paid council taxes, water and electricity for years so they are not freeloaders.

The point is that the POOC/Polis rules state they should be rehoused if they have nowhere else to live. This was the agreement and this is the part that is not being done and is causing unnecessary social problems, protest, upset and anger. The state agrees one thing and does the oppostite.
0 #2 Riedmüller 2015-02-22 01:41
It all started decades ago when there was the first fisherman to set up a shak because he didn´t want to go home the same day, then there was the next fisherman and so on, which ended in hundreds living in illigal conditions, quite often stealing water and electricity from public source.

Today when have thousands of campers living on public space all along the algarve, spoiling the enviroment, ocupying illegaly public space, just to avoid to pay the rates for proper camping sites. I wonder what we will read in a few years time when the first today's camper will be removed from public space!!!!!
+5 #1 DavidR 2015-02-21 00:47
This is getting out of hand. When a democratic country's people are in such distress and their elected leaders simply ignore them, trouble will not be far behind. These island people are among the poorest in society and are being treated like dirt to be brushed under the carpet. The politicians and civil servants are behaving appallingly and by not even being arsed to make a comment show their collusion and guilt in perpetuating a situation that is entirely of their own making. The rehousing part of the deal has conveniently been forgotten and now is a political football while people are sleeping rough. Welcome to Portugal.

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