Communities’ Resistance towards Common Lands: A Communal Property Historically Disputed by Private Entities, Municipalities and The Government
António Cardoso, Goretti Barros, Carlos Matias

Common lands are a complementary basis of family owned land, essential for the survival of rural economies, particularly in the inner regions of the country (Portugal). Over time, it has become a subject of discord and has given rise to disputes, not only internally around the private appropriation of communal lands, but also with the Government and municipalities eager to take possession of communal lands that belong to the people that have resisted in various ways. Primarily, this paper will seek, in a synthetic manner, to approach the issue, which has spanned through several regimes, as well as through the ages, giving emphasis on the liberal period, encompassing the First Republic up to the New State dictatorial regime, during which some critical situations arose that have been rather well illustrated in Aquilino Ribeiro‟s novel. Later on, several of the difficulties originated by this problem since the revolution of April 25th 1974 will be presented. These translated into conflicts between social and political players in the centre of the communities about access, ownership and fruition of common lands, as well as in ways of managing the latter, and in the established rapport between commoners and municipalities but mostly with the central Government. Despite the constitutional acknowledgement of common lands as being property of local communities, namely its commoners (as in article 82 of the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic), there are records of private entities, municipalities and the Government attempting to „rob‟ the people of those communal rights. Lastly, an analysis will be performed focusing on the most recent legislation established in the Assembly of the Portuguese Republic. This legislation was an initiative of the BE and PCP political parties, with the constructive collaboration of PS. Its background and social-economic and political impact as well as its contribution to the survival of family units and respective communities will be presented. Furthermore, its role in rural development and in the reinforcement of the biodiversity of fauna and flora and, ultimately, in the sustainability of rural ecosystems, namely agricultural and forestry ones will be demonstrated.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jaes.v8n2a11