MADRID, November 23 (Sputnik) — President of the Canary Islands Paulino Rivero has informed the Spanish authorities of possible rebellion by the Canarian people due to oil exploration near the islands, Europa Press news agency reported on Sunday.
“If the government turn its back on its people, then people will rise against the abuse of power,” Rivero said.
In June, environmentalists and the Canary Islands authorities filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court of Spain, questioning the right of Repsol energy company to carry out offshore drilling near the islands. The lawsuit, however, has been rejected. Oil exploration sites are located close to the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, which are part of UNESCO's World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR) program.
In August, the Spanish government allowed Repsol to start the oil exploration near the Canary Islands — a move, which has faced strong opposition by the local residents and many ecological organizations.
In October, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reaffirmed his support for the oil exploration off the coast of the Canary Islands and urged local authorities "not to engage in demagoguery."
Earlier on this week, Repsol began oil exploration works.
In October, Canary Islands President Rivero announced the local authorities' decision to hold a referendum on whether oil exploration and drilling in the region should be allowed. However, after Madrid appealed to the Constitutional Court, Rivero decided not to go beyond the questionnaire to find out the public opinion. The poll is to be conducted on Monday.
The islands' residents will be asked "Do you think that the the Canary Islands have to change their environmental and tourism model due to oil and gas exploration?" The wording of the question has already drawn widespread criticism due to its vagueness as many believe it would be more appropriate to ask a direct question on the people's approval of oil exploration.
On Sunday evening, Canarians are expected to rally against Madrid's actions. Greenpeace said it would hold similar protests in several Spanish cities.