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Homeless Ria Formosa islanders now sleeping rough in Olhão's docks

islanddestructionA series of seminars on the subject, ‘Ria Formosa - the integrity of the lagoon system and its economic activities,' continues on the 25th of February, in Faro.

The initiative aims to 'encourage dialogue and cooperation between all levels of government, civil society and business, and to help build a sustainable vision for this very particular and sensitive area,' and will not cover state sponsored homelessness of those evicted from the islands to create this sustainable vision.

The seminar will take place with the support of Faro council and the Ria Formosa Training Centre. Susana Miguel of the Algarve Tourism Board will talk on ‘The Ria Formosa as a dynamic hub of nature tourism in the Algarve’ and Pedro Moreira from the Algarve’s Hotel and Tourism School will speak on ‘Training and best practices in the tourism sector.’

‘Nautical tourism: niche market or anchor product?' will be presented by Fernando Perna from the University of the Algarve, followed by an explanation from Otilia Eusebius on the Mediterranean Diet and its place in tourism.

The seminar also includes a period of debate before it closes and maybe, if they have not been taken to Faro hospital with hypothermia, the evicted fishermen from the Ria Formosa islands currently living under plastic sheeting in Olhão’s dock area, then will be discussed.

One evicted family found and moved into an empty council property on the mainland after their São Lourenço island home of 13 years was destroyed as part of the current island clearances. They later were kicked out by the police to enable council workers to brick up the doors and windows.

The Minister for the Environment, Jorge Moreira da Silva said this week in Parliament that "no demolition will be carried out to first homes without relocation being arranged." 

This may have been the Minister's intention but so far removed is he from reality that this statement is not only erroneous, it now is a lie, and is one that the mayor António Pina has highlighted in his political swing to start helping the displaced.

In Olhão, the council has empty homes but the mayor still denies this is the case. Pina believes that "the responsibility for relocating these families is that of the Ministry of the Environment." In the meantime those that are homeless are homeless for ideological reasons.

The four Algarve MPs who signed a petition earlier this week demanding the presence of Jorge Moreira da Silva for "urgent hearings on the demolitions on the Ria Formosa islands" have heard nothing.

The MPs say there are serious doubts about the Minister's ‘right to housing’ assertion.

The Polis Ria Formosa Society, which has been arranging the demolitions with the blessing of the Government, has guaranteed resettlement in all cases where it is clear the demolished house was a first and only home. It may have guaranteed resettlement but has failed, with the visible result of people sleeping out in the open in the dock area with no heating, water or proper shelter.

Of the 800 homes which are expected to be flattened on the islands, 150 already have been demolished and 60 are on the list for the next few days, yet second properties on Farol and Faro islands, also located in the Public Maritime Domain, somehow remain untouched which has increased the rumours that only the poor are being moved on, and that the well connected will be just fine.  

demolishAt last weekend’s packed meeting in Olhão's auditorium, many fishermen who had lost their homes, or were about to, gathered to hear mayor António Pina say he was waiting for the response to a request for a meeting with the Minister, Jorge Moreira da Silva, to solve these problems.

Again, nothing has happened as those in charge of this 21st century example of social engineering imagine that by remaining silent and lying in parliament, the problem will evaporate over time.

The president of the Polis Ria Formosa Society, Sebastião Teixeira, says the relocation process is to be "a joint action with Olhão council, the Polis Society and Social Security." This seems to be news to the council which insists that the rehousing is down to the Ministry of the Environment.

From 150 demolitions, just twelve couples have made it onto the official rehousing list. Teixeira asserts there are “three or four cases" where people have not been rehoused.

This is ‘three or four’ too many and those left of the list despite qualifying, have been made homeless with no prospect of help from Teixeira who is perhaps doing his job to the very limit of his ability.

Polis and the Ministry of the Environment both directly are responsible for Portuguese residents sleeping rough in an Algarve dock.

This is a shameful and discriminatory series of badly planned and executed actions for which the government is wholly responsible.

Whether the minister in charge will continue to ignore these events and their results of his policies remains to be seen but such a display of cold arrogance is not a welcome sight in a country widely regarded for the warmth and tolerance shown by its nationals.

 Resultado de imagem para ria formosa demolition



A petition now has been launched on Avaaz:





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+1 #4 Verjini 2015-02-19 10:18
In this, officially, Catholic country - presumably receiving the benefit of the 'ministrations' of CARITAS, etc - I can't help wondering whether, or not, local charitable institutions have stepped in to offer, or provide, shelter AND add their voice to the capaign against this unbelievable inequity..
These poor people are the victims of 'society', from birth, part of the reasons for their rejection.
GRRR :-(
+4 #3 Ed 2015-02-14 09:40
Quoting Peter Booker:
The municipal owners of Polis (Olhão, Tavira and VRSA) must have been aware of these moves a long time ago. Why have they chosen to speak out only now, when the illegal work of destruction has already begun?

Polis has a ten year operational period. At the start of the tenth year it's comatose management decided the time was right to rush into some action. This is the result. Yes, the Camaras were and are part of Polis and have been complicit in the plan for island clearances and have made no provision for rehousing their dependent citizens.
+6 #2 Peter Booker 2015-02-14 09:01
The municipal owners of Polis (Olhão, Tavira and VRSA) must have been aware of these moves a long time ago. Why have they chosen to speak out only now, when the illegal work of destruction has already begun? Could it be that they essentially agree with the destruction of poor housing, and yet wish to appear to oppose it?
+5 #1 JoaoG 2015-02-13 22:58
Whatever the legaility of these people being in the Ria Formosa islands, the way the removals are being handled is bad. Housing accomodation in Faro and Olhao should have been arranged before the houses were distroyed. I am ashamed that poor people are sleeping outside because of government policy, how can this be right in modern Portugal? It is like 100 years ago when pesants were treated badly by their masters. Now the state is the master and is just as bad.

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