Portugal’s Environment Minister, Jorge Moreira da Silva, assured anyone who would listen that no luxury tourism construction projects are in place for when the Algarve’s Ria Formosa islands have been cleared of houses.
Moreira da Silva reiterated that the process to demolish these properties was approved over ten years ago but gave no sensible reason why the work had not been done, with the Polis Ria Formosa society needing an extra year even to start the process.
"It's complete nonsense what some are saying that the state is to demolish illegal houses and then build 'resorts.'
It also would be dangerous to believe this politician as a. he may not be in post after the elections and b. he is a politician and as such will say what people want to hear, rather than basing comments on research, experience and facts.
In Portugal we are not building 'resorts' anymore, or buildings, on the pubic maritime domain. That time is over," said the minister who still has not come up with a reason why so many luxury buildings have been built, and still are being built, in the maritime domain to which he refers while fishemen's houses are being bulldozed.
Moreira da Silva was speaking to reporters after a conference in Cascais and stressed that these demolitions have been planned for many years, but that "there has been no courage to implement them," intimating that he was the 'man of courage.'
"Now there is courage and social sensitivity. There is not one case where a first home has been demolished without the people being relocated," said da Silva whose insistence that this is true means he may believe it to be true, rather than trying to mislead the press on a fact that does not stand up to even casual investigation.
The minister then tried the ‘man of the people’ routine, saying of the displaced, desperate, angry and bewildered islanders, that he “understood the response of the people.”
"Who would not want to have a house on the sea? But this is not acceptable. We can not build on a public area. We are creating conditions so that all Portuguese, not just 800, can benefit from the barrier islands," said Moreia de Silva, trotting out the government line without stopping to think about what he was saying and assuming the hard-working islanders live there for the pleasant view.
This comment was a slip as it exposed the thought processes of those in power who as long suspected are jealous of the Ria Formosa islanders who live in an idyllic location, and the politicians do not.
Idyllic the island locations may look, but life is hardly one of ease and luxury for the families that have lived there, some for 5 generations or more, earning a living shellfishing and fishing in a sector that is blighted with bans, regulations, fines and the vagaries of the weather.
"We cannot be spending €300 million to protect people and property along the coast and not be aware that there are illegal houses that have been built in an area called the Barrier Islands, which serve to protect the Ria Formosa," droned Moreira da Silva who at this point in the day was not aware that Loule court already had halted the demolition of 137 properties in a landmark judgement that has sent a wave of relief through the Ria Formosa island communities.
Moreia da Silva continues conveniently to overlook the luxury houses, hotels and apartments that also have been built within the public maritime domain but which are not scheduled for demolition.
One example is the property still being built by US millionaire politician John Kerry at Fabrica, Tavira, see below:
and this one in Olhao...