While smuggling activities between Portugal and Spain were generally thought to be easier in "the dry stripe" areas, poverty and a lack of other opportunities also led the inhabitants of Alcoutim to turn to this illegal trade of goods."
Smuggling on the border between Portugal and Spain began in the thirteenth century after the more or less final demarcation of the border between the two countries. This activity was at its peak between the years 1930 to 1960, and especially during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).
The goods smuggled out of Portugal included coffee, sugar, eggs, rice, soap, flour, bread, figs, wool and tobacco, and their final destination was nearby towns, such as El Granado o Villanueva de los Castillejos, as well as much more distant locations such as Valverde del Camino or Huelva. The goods from Spain included corduroy (a fabric not then produced in Portugal), soaps, perfumes, fine apparel,
clothes, cognac and almond filling, which was delivered to local merchants (Alcoutim, Giões, Martim Longo) or to intermediaries.
To avoid this practice, at the end of the nineteenth century the government built a comprehensive network of Fiscal Guard surveillance posts that stretched along the entire right-hand bank of the Guadiana river, and which were matched on the opposite bank by Civil Guard posts.
This "diplomatic understanding" between men pursuing opposite objectives inspired this trail, which is marked by some aspects relating to smuggling in Alcoutim but also to the presence of the Fiscal Guard in the same territory.
Explore the paths that tell the story of smuggling through two walking routes included in this Route.