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Communists bring Ria Formosa islanders' claims back to parliament

ria formosa2Portugal’s Communist Party has demanded the immediate suspension of demolitions on the Ria Formosa islands in a new draft resolution; the fight continues.

The Communists have presented their petition to parliament and demand a halt to the demolitions on the islands under the Polis Litoral Ria Formosa programme, a legal process that  has been misused by the authorities and mismanaged by Polis.

This new draft resolution from the communists will be discussed and voted on at the plenary session of parliament on April 10th but in the meantime the demolition teams are still active and islanders, some of whose families have been living on the islands for five generations, will lose their homes as thiose running the state machine hope that as time goes by the protests will become quieter and then disappear just like the islanders who stand in the way of progress, as defined by politicians in Lisbon.

The Communists require the "recognition of the social, economic and cultural development of the urban centres of the Ria Formosa islands and the immediate suspension of demolitions of homes on Culatra, Hangares, Farol, the Ancão peninsula and islets.”

The Communists want to see the upgrading of these urban areas, rather than tearing down homes and making their occupants unnecessarily homeless. The party also wants to see the bathing areas and the lagoon system improved, support for economic activities in the Ria Formosa and the implementation of a policy of promoting production chains around fisheries and the production and harvesting of shellfish.

The Communists, Socialists and Left Bloc submitted a draft resolution for the "immediate suspension" of the demolitions but this was rejected on March 6th by the ruling majority whose desire to ignore its citizens, make them homeless and block their every move, has shown the current government and its instruments as callous, undemocratic, uncaring and arrogant.

The last debate saw nearly 500 islanders travel from teh Algarve to Lisbon, far more than the ‘200 or so’ reported in the pro-government press, and demonstrate outside parliament and sit in on the excuse for a debate whcih concluded in a party line vote which, as far as Passos Coelho was concerned, saw the fate of the islanders sealed.

But the game is not over as this new resolution by the Communist Party keeps the argument alive and challenges the state’s right to evict people, only to be replaced by debris littered sand.

The islanders have not just rolled over, waiting for the diggers to arrive, and their own petition asking parliament immediately to halt the demolitions now has more than 4,500 signatures, so now must be debated again.

The islanders say that the demolition by Polis's contractors, Polis having behaved with delight throughout this process of social engineering as 800 houses start to be demolished with little provision for re-housing, "are affecting the personal and professional lives of hundreds of residents and depriving them of their residence and their secular way of life."

This fight has come to represent more than a few poor fishermen being pushed out by the state to make way for luxury tourism development, it has come to symbolise the question of the right of the state undemocratically to destroy peoples family homes and their  traditional way of life by using often spurious arguments and an agency that not only is out of control, but has not done the necessary environmental work it had been funded and charged with doing to keep the islands safe from storm damage and tidal surges.

Even David Santos from the Algarve's regional development board said that Polis has left everything far too late and now is doing things back to front, i.e. the demolitions should have been the last thing on a long list of things to do, not the first.

What the Polis management has been doing for the last ten years of its life remains to be explained but this rush of activity seems alomost designed to cause the maximum hardship without taking into account those people affected by the callous and entirely misguided approach.