Welcome to Episode Six of the EarthRights Podcast; Mel and Pippa are in conversation with Cheila Collaço Rodrigues and Inès Deroche Rios, current and former Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists in Portugal.
We start with the impact of the Portugese dictatorship, which Cheila explains moulded modern Portugese culture. People are very conservative and fearful, having experienced dictatorial violence so activism has often been hidden quiet; but this makes the XR movement there very special as it makes Portugese resistance louder and more public.
Inès and Cheila also open up about how they came into activism. In dealing with depression, anger and in needing an outlet to channel concerns over being women, housing, money and other worries, XR in Portugal was born. XR provided a platform from which they could both address all concerns at once, since the climate emergency impacts all of them.
“Housing problems are a climate change problem, they are a feminist problem, they are a racial problem – having intersectionality in all these problems is very important.” (Chelia)
They also tell us about the three objectives of XR:
1) Tell the truth – make governments tell the truth about the climate emergency
2) Carbon neutral by 2025 – NET 0
3) Stop biodiversity loss
…and the concept of mobilising 3% of the population in order to create change:
“We just need 3% of the population to come together to make a radical change. When I read that it have me so much hope, even at the beginning of XR in Portugal we were just 10 or15 people, but then I realised, these 10 people are getting us closer to the 3% we need to really make a change.” (Inès)
…as well as the meaning behind ‘Love and Rage’ – the slogan all XR activists use to sign of any action, manifesto or letter they do.
Finally, Inès and Cheila discuss the difficulties in remaining ‘apolitical’, an essential principle of XR. Climaximo in Portugal came with different egos and personalities, a pre-existing power structure with men at the top and a public association with the Portugese political elites. Inès tells us how working with Climaximo created so much distress for her that she could no longer continue her role in XR.