Hundreds rally to Aljezur for ‘human chain’ protest against oil and gas exploration

Hundreds of people rallied to calls for a human chain protest against oil and gas exploration in the Algarve on Saturday – showing that the strength of feeling uniting many nationalities impels protests even on a sunny long weekend.

With shouts of “Go away!”, “Out!” and “No to Fracking!” demonstrators held hands in a gigantic ring around Aljezur Câmara – the borough particularly in the spotlight as drilling offshore is due to start on July 1.

The so-called period of public consultation runs till June 22, and to this end a petition is busily gathering signatures (click here) hoping to force a delay in oil companies Galp and Eni’s schedule.

As Aljezur mayor José Amarelinho told Lusa, the ultimate goal is to force the government to rescind all contracts signed with oil companies for exploration both on land and at sea.

Referring to the fact that land-based exploration activities by Portfuel have already been blocked (click here), Amarelinho added: “Clearly we are almost, almost winning the onshore battle, but the battle at sea is far from lost”.

Anti-oil groups are already talking of taking the issue to the beaches, to made holidaymakers aware of the risks the Algarve faces.

Calling a future with oil drilling off the coast, a “public crime”, spokesman for MALP (the movement for an oil- free) João Martins said: “This human chain today is an appeal to the government of António Costa and the President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to come out of the deep sleep in which they find themselves in relation to the exploration of oil and gas in the Algarve region”.

With other protests ongoing in Odeceixe where artists came together for a kind of live installation art on the beach (see photo) , all groups involved in this struggle say they will continue fighting, with many other events scheduled.

ASMAA CEO Laurinda Seabra said her group gave out 300 petition forms during Saturday’s protest and “collected hundreds of signatures”.

Writing on Facebook, she said with the June 22 still one week away, “We have lots of work ahead of us”.

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