The Mayor of Faro, Rogério Bacalhau, has confirmed that the controversial demolitions on the Ria Formosa islands are to continue.
On January 19th the mayor met Celia Ramos, Secretary of State for Regional Planning and Nature Conservation who confirmed the demolitions will go ahead.
In an interview with Barlavento, Bacalhau said that at Hangaraes and Farol islands, where court injunctions temporarily have halted the demolition plans of Polis Litoral Ria Formosa, the destruction of private property will go ahead as soon as the individual cases are ruled on in court and the injunctions lifted – “Polis’ plan is unchanged,” comments the mayor whose vacilating position remains a serious concern.
Bacalhau’s fellow councillors already have voted against the continuation of the demolitions but it seems yet again that a visit from Lisbon has changed the attitude of the mayor who has turned the political U-turn into an art form.
Far from taking the opportunity to reiterate Faro council's opposition to evictions and demolitions that already have caused untold misery and stress, Bacalhau again has allied himself with the destructive, out of control Polis regime run by the Algarve's most despised public servant, Sebastião Teixeira, the Polis president.
The Polis shareholders granted themselves another year of operation with accompanying comments that the demolitions are 'way down the list of things to do' so unlikely ever to take place in the next 12 months, now confirmed as a convenient lie.
Bacalhau also remains resolute that the wastewater polluting the Ria Formosa is not polluting the Ria Formosa.
Toxic wastewater from Faro's sewage treatment plant is fed directly into the lagoon, a situation that Bacalhau refuses to admit exists despite evidence to the contrary.
The toxicity of the water in areas of the Ria Formosa lagoon is preventing the development of the essential shellfish industry which provides families with income but where harvesting is banned more often than not due to Faro and Olhao councils condoning the deliberate dumping of toxic effluent into the lagoon.
These shellfishermen see the deliberate polluting of the waters as a prelude to putting them out of busieness and the State auctioning off their hereditary shellfish nursery areas.This may or not be true, but the effect on the Ria Formosa'a economy is the same while pollution continues to flow under Bacalhau's nose.
Bacalhau commented, with a straight face, "My political ambition is to continue to do my job to improve the living conditions of our citizens.”
This laughable statement is Bacalhau at his finest.
Clearly he is acting against improving the living conditions of those citizens living on the Ria Formosa islands, whom he is happy to see evicted with little or no provision for resettlement on the mainland, and the Ria Formosa shell-fishing fraternity whose polluted water he pretends does not exist while telling Lisbon that the effluent from the wastewater treatment plant and other industrial outflows is safe.
In fact the wastewater from the sewage plant is so bad that the mayor of Olhão has admitted that the new beaches he has created at ratepayers' expense near the Real Marina Hotel, which also are near the sewage treatment plant, will be for 'sitting on only' as the water there is too polluted for the beach areas to be granted a bathing license.
Bacalhau has turned into the worst type of local politician with one eye on Lisbon and a callous disregard for those who actually need the help his powerful position can give.
Occurring if at all nowadays as anti-social crimes with all active decision makers concerned and additionally all those passive onlookers whose job description should have involved them, swiftly and sternly punished. Not writing off these countless examples as routine maladministration that we all accept saying "Well, only in Portugal".
Consider the other discussion today about a historical well in the Algarve destroyed by road builders. Why was the Municipal museum staff and archaeologists along with concerned residents not camped round it ? The road builders map marking its site in red years ago. Why did compulsory purchase not be invoked to avoid its destruction ?
Yet again no-one will be 'held responsible'. But tens of thousands of Brussels culture euros are now to be divvied up with just a few spent on 'a new historical well'.
The honeymoon was pretty short.