Faro council has voted through a motion, "No to the demolitions, yes to the requalification" of the Ria Formosa, proposed by a CDU (Democratic union) councillor who submitted a document that demanded the recognition of the social, economic, historical and cultural value of the villages on the Ria Formosa islands and an end to the demolitions.
The motion was only just approved as the PSD (Social Democrats) and Socialist Pary concillors voted against the motion and hence, in favour of the continuing demolitions and misery for those islanders affected.
The Communist Party spokesman said this is "a time when the nightmare of demolitions is returning to the barrier islands, and when the administrative possession for the demolition of properties is due to take place on the 22nd of February. Faro council needs to take a stand against the Socialist Government's decision to resume demolitions and needs to show solidarity and support to local communities."
In the motion, the government and the new Board of Directors of Polis Litoral Ria Formosa are criticised for stopping short of upgrading up all the settlements and bathing areas on the islands and for continuing the demolition process of houses at Hangares and Farol, thus bringing back the nightmare of demolitions for the populations affected.
Olhão’s mayor is pro-islander and spent much of Monday defending the islanders as his ‘chameleon defence’ was heard in Loulé court. He later said that now was the time to take the Ria Formosa natural park from State control and put it up for UNESCO natural heritage recognition.
The make-up of the Polis board has changed to include more council seats but the demolition process continues on the instruction of the Environment Minister, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, who has changed his tune after halting the last round of demolitions. He now says that the islanders’ houses will be looked at every three years to see which ones need to be torn down and the 60 slated for demolition are just the start of an ongoing process.
The island communities have called on local support and will continue to fight, so far using all legal means at their disposal, for what they see as natural justice and an end to the continuing lies of politicians.
The islanders already have seen off the former head of Polis, the reviled Sebastião Teixeira, who was sacked by Fernandes for pushing ahead with the demolition process just as the minister was hacking out a political agreement which, as it has turned out, was in fact a cynical ploy to deflate the demolitions argument until such time as he could press ahead with less attention.
This is unlikely to happen as the islanders are nothing if not media savvy and February 22nd will see reporters alongside supporters as their defence is mounted and attention again is focussed on the persecution of these citizen whose forebears were encouraged to move to the islands by the same State that now wants them removed to make way for high-quality tourism development, not than anyone in government has the cojones finally to admit that this is the case.