Portugal’s parliament today voted for the continuation of the demolition of 800 properties on the Algarve's Ria Formosa islands, but not before a group of islanders in the public gallery disrupted proceedings and were ejected.
The last ditch petition by opposition parties asked for the suspension of the demolition programme to take the heat out of the controversial programme that already has seen the destruction of around 200 properties resulting in homelessness and despair.
The coalition, as widely expected, voted in favour of the continued destruction of property under the guise of ‘renaturisation’ despite powerful, well constructed, eloquent and ultimately futile speeches from Algarve MPs in support of the islanders’ rights and of the economic activities that bind the islanders as a community and provides fish and shellfish for the Algarve’s restaurant and export trade.
The 300 protestors in the public gallery, part of the four busloads of protestors that left the Algarve early this morning, caused an outbreak of bad manners among MPs with the PSD MPs claiming that they felt “insulted” by the noisy protest and the speaker Assunção Esteves demanding the gallery be cleared.
Chants of "The islanders, united, will never be defeated" did nothing to improve Esteves’ mood as she stated with palpable irritation, “This is Parliament, not the street. Do please remove people from of the galleries."
There is a glimmer of hope for Culatra’s residents as the settlement may be categorised as lying outside the demolition zone for the Polis Ria Formosa contractors, but this is by no means certain.
What is certain is that in the background the government has approved an application to re-classify the Ria Formosa area so as to introduce 'quality tourism' which most islanders believe means up market tourist developments to replace their homes.
The proposal urged the Government to halt demolitions, to dredge the choked waterways around the island network and to address the obvious sources of pollution from sewage which runs into the Ria Formosa lagoon at 31 points.
All proposals were rejected confirming the local opinion that the current government is pro-sewage, pro-homelessness, pro-demolition of private property and is firmly against anyone living on the islands as many families have done for generations.
The next round of demolitions is due to start on Farol on a day chosen for its impact - Dia da Liberdade.