The interior and its depopulation are nothing new. We have seen the last twenty years of progressive and clear abandonment of the villages and towns on the border with Spain to the border with Estremadura and the metropolitan area of Porto. The data confirm this trend. According to the last censuses carried out by the National Statistics Institute between 2001 and 2011, we can see the speed of the evacuation of these regions and places.
For example, to have some understanding on this subject, let’s talk about cases like the following churches:
1) Sarzedo (municipality included in the union of the municipalities of Sarzedo and Teixoso due to the last administrative reform of 2013) increased from about 175 people in 2001 to 130 people in 2011;
2) Monsanto (municipality included in the union of the municipalities of Monsanto and Idanha-a-Nova due to the last administrative reform of 2013) increased from about 1160 people in 2001 to 829 people in 2011;
3) Rabal (municipality in the municipality of Bragança) increased from about 196 people in 2001 to 171 people in 2011;
4) Lalim (municipality in the municipality of Lamego) rose from around 912 people in 2001 to 729 people in 2011 (this municipality, according to its own information, had its population peak in the 1950s and has been declining since then);
5) Cepos (municipality included in the union of the municipalities of Cepos and Teixeira due to the last administrative reform of 2013) rose from around 174 people in 2001 to around 135 people in 2011.
This announced fact is a reality for parishes and communities throughout the region of the center inland. We can therefore conclude that from 2011 to 2020 the numbers likely decreased even further due to some factors such as labor shortages and the number of deaths.
The solutions to overcoming these problems were those of administrative reorganization. As if this office attitude solved something. Almost eight years have passed since the reform was drafted and consequently implemented. The results were insufficient, if not to say sluggish. In recent years, there has been no decent interior revitalization project. There was no effective strategy to breathe new life into these villages and towns, which have so much to offer the Portuguese economy and culture.
The country cannot advance at two different speeds: the interior must be more than a cause, it must be a promise. A promise of a better life for those who want to live and work in Portugal.
Individualism placed itself before the interests of the collective, the nation. And according to this logic, it is unthinkable to lead companies into the regions that make up the interior. For the defenders of this idea, it is the company that has to decide where to stay, even if it concerns the land and moves it at two different speeds: the coast at an incomparably higher speed than the interior. This political-philosophical principle is one of the foundations of the demographic imbalance, which we have already analyzed very carefully.
With the increasing depopulation of the interior, the decline in quality of life is a reality. Because with the overcrowding of the coast, contrary to what a certain section of Portuguese society says: the utopian defenders of laissez-faire, unemployment continues to rise. The economy will not regulate itself, on the contrary, it will destroy the life of the Portuguese people. With a greater number of workers (or co-workers as they say today) everyone will do this. It doesn’t matter whether you agree or disagree with the compensation they are offering: it is what exists. It’s what the company can give. It is the justification for the low wage policy. The logic that more people create more wealth is therefore a perception, it is unreal.
Within the salary models of the other member states of the European Union, there are therefore more workers for a low offer with acceptable remuneration. Which forces animal competition between people for a better job. The company is responsible and not the state, the individual and not the collective, the economy and not political, irrational and not common sense.
A business program adapted to the needs of the interior and a well-structured cultural network can be the most effective means of improving the quality of life on the one hand and combating gradual depopulation on the other.
The center and the border of our country are rich in historical and cultural heritage. Let’s take into account the numerous castles, palaces, palaces, houses of well-known personalities of the councils, as well as Roman and Islamic archaeological remains. With this amount of heritage, it was possible, in collaboration with companies willing to join the cause, to devise a comprehensive program of cultural implantation in the countryside, sponsored by the Portuguese state. The permanent cultural dynamism would go through routes that make the history of our country known, through the inland communities; for holding parties of a historical nature (Roman parties, medieval masses – Christian and Muslim -, 16th century, 16th century, 18th century and 19th century, with people trained as advisors to these activities in the region); greater encouragement and incentive for city museums; Celebrations celebrating the life and work of writers born in these regions; Support and appreciation of the handicrafts of the people in these villages and towns.
At the same time, life in these regions would become even more intense if businesses – the new multinationals wishing to set up in Portugal – were housed there. If they settled in the country, they had to become attractive and offer fair remuneration within a European framework. A change in mentality was possible: companies would put the individual and the family at the center of their work and not just money. And in doing so, they would be doubly profitable as more people would be looking for them.
The path to real human and economic prosperity is this: to identify the problem of underdevelopment in Portugal. The country cannot advance at two different speeds: the interior must be more than a cause, it must be a promise. A promise of a better life for those who want to live and work in Portugal.