About 20,000 conservative formers from all over Portugal gathered in the town of Rio Maior 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of the capital, Lisbon, on Sunday (14 December) to protest against illegal land seizures.
GV Farmers with placards at protest demonstration (3 shots)
SV Farmer addressing crowd
SV Farmers listening
SV ZOOM OUT TO GV Crowd chanting
SCU Another farmer addressing demo as other farmers listen (4 shots)
GV PAN ACROSS Farmers clapping
Initials BB/2300 PK/AS/BB/2330
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Background: About 20,000 conservative formers from all over Portugal gathered in the town of Rio Maior 50 miles (80 kilometres) north of the capital, Lisbon, on Sunday (14 December) to protest against illegal land seizures.
The Communist Party has accused the farmers of planning to cut Portugal in two again, as they did on the eve of last month's abortive left-wing uprising, and has called for all its supporters to remain vigilant.
However, the Lisbon Military Command, after a meeting with farmers' representatives, dismissed the Communists' alarm as a groundless rumour and said that it would not tolerate any public disorders.
Giving discreet support to the farmers, the Command promised to "neutralise" any land occupations that might be attempted in the Lisbon region.
Indicating the pressure under which it has come from the farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture also ordered enquiries into some to the best known estates taken over by leftist-blacked labourers in the fertile Rio Maior region.
Some 10,000 farmers threw up barricades across all the roads and railway lines leading to Lisbon from the north last month after holding a meeting in Rio Maior. They took them down after six hours when the Military Council of the Revolution promised to head their grievances.
In the planned Government re-shuffle a Socialist is generally expected to replace Dr. Antonio Bica, the Communist Deputy Minister of Agriculture. The farmers largely blame him for encouraging labourers to seize farms.
The Socialist Party however, has issued a statement saying Conservative forces were using the farmers' grievances to encourage a right wing backlash after the failure of last month's leftist rebellion.
It was at Rio Maior that the first outbreak of anti-Communist violence occurred last summer because of the discontent of local pig breeders, and the town has since become a symbol of resistance for all farmers threatened by the land reform.
SYNOPSIS: Rio Maior ... major centre of discontent and protest among conservative Portuguese farmers over illegal land seizures. Some twenty thousand farmers gathered there on Sunday to voice their grievances and demand government action.
The Communist Party has accused the farmers of planning to cut Portugal in half, as they did last month on the eve of the abortive left wing uprising. The Communists have called on supporters to remain vigilant. However, the Lisbon Military Command has dismissed the Communist alarm as groundless rumour.
There are signs that the Government is moving discreetly to support the farmers. However, the Socialist Party has warned against right wing agitation.