26/03/2012 Lanzarote (KMC) - According to local police between 20,000 and 25,000 protestors took to the streets of Arrecife on Saturday to say NO to Repsol’s oil drilling plans.
These numbers made the protest the largest in the history of the island, demonstrating just how important the issue has become for many who live here.
The protest began at 7pm on Calle Real in the centre of Arrecife and ended at the Recinto Ferial, close to the Cabildo building.
The peaceful protest which included Batucadas groups, bands, children, youths, adults and babies had a festive air.
In the Recinto Ferial speeches were given by various citizens of the island and a live link was set up between Lanzarote and the corresponding protest in Fuerteventura. Several promotional films presenting the dangers of oil drilling were also shown and received loud applause and cheers from the audience. After this there was a performance by a traditional Lanzarote Timple band.
President of the Island, San Gines said: “I feel a tremendous pride to chair the government of the citizens, with the support and unity that has been shown. We will collect the mandate of civil society to continue fighting. This battle is only beginning.”
Demonstrations were planned on the other Canary Islands and on mainland Spain in the cities of Barcelona and Madrid. In Tenerife more than 1000 protesters, including environmental officials and local officials gathered outside the national government offices on Saturday evening.
A group of people from the Canary Islands also travelled to Madrid on Saturday where they smeared themselves in black paint before joining a protest outside the Environment Ministry .
On 16 March Spain’s central government approved oil exploration in a location around 60km from the coasts of Lanzarote and Fuerteventura.
Repsol, exploring the area in a consortium with Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd and RWE AG of Germany, hopes to begin drilling within 2 years. It must first submit an environmental impact report to the government.
The regional government of the Canaries has already mounted a legal challenge against the project.