Minister of the Sea Ana Paulo Vitorino is in hot water this week as the two-faced approach of the Socialist government to oil and gas exploration in Portugal has been laid bare.
Activists working to halt drilling 46 kms off Aljezur’s coast that could take place anytime in the next few weeks have uncovered video footage of Vitorino telling potential investors in the US in September last year that deep-offshore drilling would be going ahead off the Alentejan coast in southern Portugal “next year” (click here).
This statement – in what appears to be a shambolic presentation in poor English – highlights the fait-accompli that has been paying lip-service to the legal requirement for “a period for public consultation”.
At least this is the view not only of activists, but Opposition MPs for the Algarve Cristóvão Norte and José Carlos Barros.
Posting on social media, Norte has written “back in November a certain party took credit for rescinding oil exploration contracts in the Algarve. We now know this is not the truth.
“These processes, like others in our democracy, should be a lot more clear and inclusive.
“They are not, and they never have been.
“If politicians want to be respected, they have to stop playing behind citizen’s backs”.
While Norte announces that he will be “asking explanations from the government”, activists convinced that all that will come back are more lies and obfuscation are taking the issue quite a few steps further.
Already gunning for a legal embargo (click here), ASMAA – one of the few groups in this fight that claims not to have been ‘got at’ by the pro-lobby – is sending out letters to every political group, including the president of the Republic and the president of the Republican Assembly, calling for the immediate suspension of plans for the Alentejo Basin (off Aljezur), on the basis that nothing now rings true.
The ‘done-deal’ nature of the sale is so obvious – and even amateur – that any legal challenge can ride a horse and carriage right through it, explains ASMAA CEO Laurinda Seabra.
The issue now is whether the country’s so-called separation of powers (meaning a judiciary free from political pressure) truly exists.
Says Seabra – already the oil lobby’s ‘nemesis’ – “in the name of Truth and Justice, the TUPEM licence authorising drilling in the Alentejo basin must be declared null and void”.