‘Nunca máis’ (‘Never Again’) was a social movement and platform created in 2002, a few days after the sinking of the Prestige ship off the Galician coast. This organization has since brought together the citizen response to the ecological disaster and management carried out by the various responsible governments.
According to the platform website, the organization ‘Nunca máis’ tries to represent Galician civil society through various kinds of associations such as fishers’ guilds, trade unions, environmental groups, fisheries, and producers to develop a policy of accountability from the Spanish and Galician governments and the European Union.
The organization demanded first the declaration of Galicia as a catastrophic area and the immediate provision of resources of all kinds to repair the severe economic, social, environmental, and health consequences caused by the Prestige accident. However, throughout the years, it has moved forward to call for the implementation of mechanisms that could prevent events like this from happening in the future.
The platform received the support of more than 300,000 people from all over Spain and Europe, gathering around 200,000 people in the biggest demonstration in the history of Spain. This platform organized and still does events of various kinds and filed a lawsuit against those responsible.
As a part of their founding document, this organization of ‘Nunca máis’ demanded, among other things: the declaration of Galicia as a catastrophic area, the immediate provision of resources of all kinds to repair the severe economic, social, environmental, and health consequences caused by the sinking of the ship, and the implementation of prevention mechanisms. It demanded the adoption of measures by the different governments, the state, national, and European Union, to control the traffic of merchants with port infrastructures that supervise the transport and storage of dangerous substances and combat and prevent pollution. It demanded the resignation of the authorities responsible for the catastrophe and insisted that disasters such as the Prestige, Urquiola, Casón, and the Aegean Sea not happen again.
Many personalities have lent their voice and skills to support this movement. One of the most adamant has been Manuel Rivas, however other writers such as Rafael Villar or Lucia Etchevarría, and actors such as Anton Reixa, Teté Delgado, María Bouzas, and María Pujalte.
A founding member of Greenpeace-Spain, Manuel Rivas has been the spokesperson for the movement ‘Nunca máis’ and its most vital voice. In one of the first protests organized by the association, Manuel Rivas wrote the manifest ‘Da dignidade’ (‘About Dignity’) in which, after thanking the thousands of volunteers that moved to Galicia to help in the tasks of cleaning the coast, Rivas denounce the head of the different governments: the Xunta de Galicia, the central government of Spain, describing their response as ‘pitiful’.
He called for clear deadlines and the pouring of resources to clean the coast entirely and prevent future disasters. He demanded the creation of a maritime safety department. Rivas also defined the platform ‘Nunca Mais’ as a movement of those affected by the catastrophe but, even more, a campaign that should appear in the ‘Universal History of Infamy’. He alluded to ‘chapapote’ (‘tar’) as not only a form of physical pollution, but a moral stain used to dirty the free conscience of Galicia and its society. “Chapapote” threatened the future of Galicians. Galicians rose to fight the tar that invaded the coast as well as the extremists, their views, and ways to solve problems. Rivas stated that the social movement ‘Nunca Máis’ had arisen from a democratic spirit. However, Víctor Sampedro Blanco, journalist and researcher concluded that there was a disconnect between what was going on in the streets and the coast, with an influx of protesters and volunteers, and how citizens voted in that year’s general elections.
For Sampedro and Susana Aguilar, the problem at the root of this disconnect has been the money distributed in the form of financial compensation and support for those sectors that had lost the most in the disaster. According to Sampedro, after the money had been distributed, the political parties in power had somehow guaranteed the allegiance of some of the affected parties. They could demand more aid, which could prompt ‘comparative grievances’ with other regions of Spain and their economic situations. Many preferred to be silent and take the little money they had been given than confront some parts of the government and being threatened by the plans to reduce the Galician fleet by 40%.
While the disaster of the Prestige and the war in Iraq had been priority issues in 2002, they lost precedence as the elections grew closer. The reason for this was, according to Sampedro, a campaign of misinformation that permeated most national media, the non-existence of the agencies in charge of managing maritime accidents, the evasion of all responsibility by the governments in Galicia and Madrid, leaving all blame in the hands of individuals.
Still, for Manuel Rivas, the spirit behind ‘Nunca máis’ is democratic. They must assume that Galicia, its natural environment, and its economy were not for sale. This is still the mission of this organization.
Aguilar, Susana. “El Modelo de Proceso Político a Debate. Una Explicación Alternativa al Origen y Consecuencias Del Movimiento Social ‘Nunca Máis.’” REIS: Revista Espanola de Investigaciones Sociologicas, no. 111, 2005, pp. 105–136.
Rivas, Manuel. “23 de Febrero Del 2003 Manifesto Da Dignidade, Por Manuel Rivas.” Especial Prestige, La Voz de Galicia, 23 Feb. 2003, prestige.lavozdegalicia.es/2003/02/23/manifesto-da-dignidade-por-manuel-rivas/.
—. “La revolución del mar.” Chapapote, by Manuel Rivas et al., Libros Del K.O., 2022, pp. 7–28.
Rivas, Manuel, et al. Chapapote. LIBROS DEL K O, 2022.
Sampedro Blanco, Victor. “Nunca Mais: La Marea, El Dique y El Búnker.” La Red En La Calle: ¿Cambios En La Cultura de Movilización?, by Elena Grau and Ibarra Pedro Güell, Betiko Fundazioa Etc., 2004, pp. 176–194.