Mayor Jorge Figueiredo has, for the time being, apparently lost his battle to keep Santa Maria from being declared a separate municipality. In its March 2 session, the National Assembly approved a request signed by 1,132 citizens expressing their wish to see Santa Maria become a municipality. The final resolution was approved with 51 votes in favor from the PAICV and the MpD and one abstention from the UCID.
The local population has celebrated the parliament’s decision. “But this is the beginning of a process that will culminate with the approval of the law creating this second new municipality on Sal,” says António “Patone” Sousa Lobo, the chairman of the commission calling for the creation of the municipality of Santa Maria, made up of 16 individuals of various different political sensibilities. Lobo believes, nevertheless, that the process is irreversible and will be supported by both of Cape Verde’s two largest political parties, the PAICV and the MpD.
With a land area of just 216 square kilometers, the island of Sal currently hosts a resident population of some 35,000. According to a feasibility study on the creation of the municipality of Santa Maria carried out in September and October 2010, the future municipality should measure 71 square kilometers and be home to a population of some 10,000. The slope from the Espargos plateau would serve as the border between the two municipalities. The municipality of Espargos would be located in the northern portion of the island, covering an area of 145 square kilometers.