Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crying for You - São Sebastião and Ilha Bela

This is a diagram of what the new port of São Sebastião will look like. What exists today is in brown--the happy bright colors are where cars will be parked waiting for import/export (green) and diesel storage and various other operations areas (orange). Ilha Bela, the subject of my last two days is approximately where this sentence lies. Between the two lies an unfortunately-deep channel which simply entices the shipping industry.

The environment watchdog, IBAMA, has approved the project as of December 2013. It is a port with 30 times its current capacity. Container ships will unload in piles of five or six vertical blocks, effectively blocking the port and the coastline from the sight line of many in Ilha Bela. Including the downtown. Where our friends live is far enough from the port that it should not be affected terribly by the ugly--but in the number of ships that pass--yes.

One ghostly cruise ship...okay...

One parked oil tanker--ugly but okay...30 times this: not okay
During our recent visit, we saw only one huge oil tanker and one passing cruise ship in our view. Imagine thirty times this number. And of course this will also affect my other secret paradise--the beach community of Guaecá.  The project, if approved, will cover two-thirds of the Mangue do Araçá ecological sanctuary. Covered with concrete! Three of the beaches that are covered are major fonts of crustaceans and mollusks.  See more here including a pretty nice video.

How can this all be legal? I don't know--but for sure the government is showing how many jobs will be created in a region where 33% of the population live in slums and 50% don't have access to basic sanitation. Are we spending our tax money in the right place?

I don't know the answer to all this but you can find more information here. In Portuguese. 

This is how I want to see the channel from Ilha Bela. Putt-putts and windsurfers. Yeah, I'm a Luddite

 I cry for you, Ilha Bela. 

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