To say NO to any oil & gas drilling is what we demand.
It’s just over a month before the ENI/GALP consortium starts drilling for oil near Aljezur, and there isn’t a glimpse of any concerted and good strategies, nor any effective action plans being presented to the public by the Algarve municipalities through AMAL (the association that represents them all). This representative body has missed the opportunity to really voice their disagreement, but then, neither has the Algarve Tourism Board really done much to put a stop to this nefarious and murderous venture.
And it is not, ‘sporadic political events’ organised to serve the interests of political agendas - local or regional; or mere declarations on social media plarforms demanding a halt to drilling made by many, or even the actions of Associations and Civil Action Groups, that will push back the decision made by central Government.
The truth is, that a comprehensive information campaign to inform Algarve residents about the real impacts, about the advantages as well as the disadvantages of such a drilling concessions, and about the impact that such an investment will have for the Algarve, has been absent frome all political spheres.
What has saved the day, has been the continuous efforts of committed volunteers of Associations and Civil Action Groups that have persisted in dragging the local political establishment into this fray. Political figures, who are after all, the individuals that have the moral obligation to inform the public in a transparent and easily understandable format, who has a duty to provide the necessary information – including mobilizing the people of their constituency with a common goal: NOT ONE WELL! (NEM UM FURO)
Today the risk, is in Aljezur, tomorrow it will be in Lagos or Vila do Bispo, through two other concessions, Santola and Gamba (bizarre names!) ...
Therefore, as time flies, let us ask ourselves: Where should more opposition to the oil drilling come from? What should we demand?
There’s no doubt, that only a fully focused and well structured opposition: - i.e. the Algarve Municipal bodies – Town Boards and Councils, Parish Boards, as well as the MP’s that are the appointed representatives of the Algarve in the Portuguese Parliament, supported by Associations and Civil Action Groups, can and will have a long lasting impact. Because, let’s get real, who has, in this web of competing forces, more power, more visibility and more negotiation / mediation power? Obviously, local political structures, which are by us elected and mandated.
At the end of the day, it is not up to Associations and Civic Action Groups to fill the vacuum left by Town and Parish Boards in this struggle, which is the struggle of us all. It is precisely the reverse.
It is the duty of our local appointed leaders, and representative bodies (that were elected to represent us whatever their political affiliation), to take advantage of the vitality of the citizens' participation, whether organized or not, to promote the necessary actions, to dignify it, and to stand-up and say in a united voice: NO TO THE GOVERNMENT.
To take a stand against drilling, to take a stand against the GOVERNMENT, without bowing their heads, that is what we demand from our regional and local leaders.
How about a demonstration in protest organised by all the Algarve Town and Parish Boards, other local authorities, and Members of Parliament to take place on the doorstep of the Portuguese Parliament during one afternoon in an show of force to exert the pressure required? It’s just an idea. A modest one.
Author: Maria Fernanda de Carvalho Afonso