commune in portugal

A Commune in Portugal



vote survive storm (2)
local election solidarity
prove cut (2) immensely
defeat coalition consecutive
cut (2) tax hike recession
region satisfied mortgage
sparse survive unexpected
rural used to existence
crisis tight (2) turn the table
earn coalition pay/paid/paid
Gaia income put in touch
brick austerity accommodation
mix charity free enterprise
cut (2) share (2) cooperative (2)
get by recovery precarious
idyllic place (2) live off the land
fate remote present (3)
bill (2) flight (2) sustainable
crisis chip in commune
reject miss (2) opportunity






Voters have rejected austerity in local elections and Portugal handing defeat to the parties of the coalition government.

Deep spending cuts have proven immensely unpopular in the country, which is likely to see a third consecutive year of recession, and hit by tax hikes and job cuts, people are finding unexpected ways to survive the economic storm.

Alentejo is a sparse, beautiful part of Portugal, and one of the country’s poorest regions.

The rural communities here are used to people moving out; economic flight having been a reality here for many generations. But since the crisis hit, villages like Amoreiras have seen people moving in.

Here a small commune has formed.

Anna and her two children have been here for a year now. Her story is one that will be familiar with many families, not just in Portugal, but all across Europe.

Anna Montez, Unemployed: “I have lost my job and I don’t have enough money that I had earned. It’s not enough to pay my bills.”

Unable to pay the mortgage on her house, Anna sought help from a charity called Gaia. They put her in touch with this small commune. It found her free accommodation in return for working on the house.

Anna Montez, Unemployed: “I’m turning the table and trying another way.”

Around seven families are part of this group, and all members of the commune chip in.

And so, brick-by-brick, Anna and her family are building a new life here. We’re told the community here is based on a mix of free enterprise, solidarity, communal sharing and cooperative trade.

Marcus Pais, Member of Gaia Organization: “All of us moved from the city to here, a couple of years ago or a few years ago, so we are still trying to find our place here.

We have these little jobs, and of course it’s very precarious. I say it’s not something that you have a strong link to a source of income. But we get by.”

Growing your own food and living off the land might seem idyllic, but that’s the thing about this situation is that many of the people who’ve come here like Anna, are ordinary people who fated the extraordinary difficulties the euro crisis have presented them with sought alternative ways of getting by.

And much like the euro crisis itself that’s showing signs of slow recovery, the big questions is “Is this sustainable?”

It’s clear this is no easy existence. Money’s tight, and children have to travel thirty kilometers each day to get to school; the nearest hospital, a hundred kilometers away.

Remote regions like this have been hard hit by cuts to public services.

Anna Montez, Unemployed: “I’m surviving, not living yet.”

And when I asked Anna if she misses her old life and her job as a lighting technician in the theater . . .

Anna Montez, Unemployed: “Yes, because when I have the opportunity to make something near to my area of work, I feel that I can do it well, and I feel really satisfied. And it’s a pity. It’s a pity for me that the things work like that, that the people don’t have the opportunity to do the things that they like more.”

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1. Portugal’s economy is not doing well, and life is difficult for some people True or false?

2. Describe the general demographic trend. Has it reversed in some instances?

3. Anna Montez moved to the Amoreiras for idealistic and philosophical reasons (she wanted to be close to nature). Is this right or wrong?

4. Is the commune a for-profit enterprise? Are the ideals and values of the commune to make money and profits?

5. What are some of the tasks and activities on the commune?

6. Life in the commune is relaxed and easy. Is this correct or incorrect?

7. Would Anna like to return to her previous job and life?


A. My friends and I would like to live in a commune. Yes or no?

B. Have there been communal societies in your country or country’s history? Can you think of examples from the world?

C. What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in a commune?

D. What do you think will happen in the future?

E. The government and rich people should set up and support communes (for unemployed people). What do you think?

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