Carlos Sousa, mayor of Albufeira, died from a heart attack last Thursday evening, after a long and hot debate, fighting crude oil extraction off the Algarve and Alentejo coastlines, writes Jack Soifer.
From the beginning, Carlos Eduardo Silva e Sousa supported the efforts of the environmental associations.
Only recently joining the environmental associations in the Algarve, the mayors’ group AMAL took a stand against the former government’s oil exploration plans which the current government has authorised.
Technically, what was authorised is only exploration, which needs a second licence for extraction. In extraction the risk of disaster exists, such as crude oil polluting the sea, while extracting gas brings no risk for the environment.
“Carlos was fighting not only for a oil free Algarve, but for a real democracy. When a central government ignores all local associations and institutions and listens to the lobbying of the petrol cartel, it ignores the basics of democracy.”
But the existence of oil platforms and towers for drilling could endanger the flow of tourists. What the government did not do was to specify where exactly they could be placed and for how long, in order not to influence tourism. Hence, the clear position from the Algarve against these contracts.
Carlos was fighting not only for a oil free Algarve, but for a real democracy. When a central government ignores all local associations and institutions and listens to the lobbying of the petrol cartel, it ignores the basics of democracy
It is lie to say this industry would bring more money to the region. Drilling offshore is a highly specialised job which normally involves bringing in foreign manpower. Maintenance of the equipment is carried out by foreign companies. Only a very few small boats would be used for taking food, diesel and people aboard the oil rigs.
Extracting crude oil offshore brings no jobs to the region other than in transportation - and both the exploring for and extraction of oil may affect tourism.
Rui Rio, the former mayor of Porto and now President of the PSD, fights for decentralisation from Lisbon of parts of the government and of state agencies such as the Supreme Court and the Secretary of State of Tourism. He also fights for regionalisation, giving some autonomy to the North, Centre and Algarve/Alentejo, such as Madeira and the Azores already have.
Real democracy is not the right to vote, but the obligation of politicians to listen to the citizens and avoid tragedies.
See also: 'Albufeira mayor dies at 60'