INTRODUCTION: The Portuguese Government's policy of the gradual return of farms to either their original owners, or the amalgamation of small holdings into larger and more economic units, is meeting opposition in rural areas of the country.
GV Conference placard on building in Evora, Portugal.
GV & SV Delegates in hall listening to speaker. (2 SHOTS)
SV TILT UP FROM Placard TO delegate speaking.
GV Delegates holding up cards to vote and applauding. (2 SHOTS)
GV Conference delegates chanting and waving fists.
GV EXT Rally crowd listening to speech by Communist leader Cunhal. (2 SHOTS)
GV Crowd chanting.
GV Demonstrators with banner, and Cunhal, marching through street. (3 SHOTS)
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The Portuguese Government's policy of the gradual return of farms to either their original owners, or the amalgamation of small holdings into larger and more economic units, is meeting opposition in rural areas of the country. In some parts of the country, particularly the south, farm workers are actively fighting the proposals which are designed to pave the way toward Portugal's membership of the European Economic Community (EEC).
SYNOPSIS: Those opposed to the changes are planning a series of conferences and rallies to co-ordinate the campaign. This one was held on Sunday (31 May) in the city of Evora, to the west of Lisbon and not far from the Spanish border. The ancient city is a market centre for some of the last remaining collective farms in southern Portugal. Some 28-hundred delegates attended the conference which had the backing of the pro-Soviet Portuguese Communist Party, also radically opposed to the new right-wing government's plans.
Ultimately, the problem of Portuguese agriculture is a human one. And the collective farmers, who believe their methods will not survive entry into the EEC, are battling to retain the traditional form of land use which has been their lifestyle for centuries.
At the rally which followed, Communist Party leader, Alvaro Cunhal called for the dismissal of Prime Minister Francisco Pinto Balsemao, the appointment of a democratic government, and what he called "replacement of the Alliance Democratic Party". The delegates know that of the 1-point-4 million hectares (2 1/2 million acres) seized by communist-backed labourers in 1975, only half is still in their hands.
The farmers are well aware that there were 500 collective farms in Portugal in 1980. This year there are 400. But the Portuguese government is also aware that the country still produces only 40 per cent of its food needs. That, they say, makes Portugal very vulnerable, and in desperate need of change.