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25/09/2012

Two villages, two countries and a single community


	Two villages, two countries and a single community

It was a revolution, that of the carnations in Portugal, which imposed a border made of cement posts with a chain between them on a population that had one foot in Portugal and one in Spain. But as the saying goes "it's complicated to put gates on the field", or in this case, impose a border on a people accustomed to living normally between two countries. Rihonor, in the Spanish province of Zamora, and Rio de Onor, in the Portuguese Braganza region are such places. Two villages that actually work as one.

The village is divided due to a distribution of land between the lords of Braganza and Benavente some centuries ago. But if the intention was to divide its people, the result has been quite the opposite, as the practice of mixed marriages between the Portuguese and the Spanish seems to have become the favourite choice of the people of this unique enclave. They even have a regional dialect: Rionorés

In 1990, the implementation of the Schengen area in the European Union did away with the chain separating the two villages and, in its place, the inhabitants of Rio de Onor and Rihonor built a community centre where they meet and show how easy it sometimes is to achieve harmony. For several years they have decided to become a role model for the rest of towns and villages like them and they want the European Union to give them the name of 'eurovillage'. The inhabitants believe that the way they consider their rural nature, the fact that they speak two languages and a variation, the example of peaceful coexistence between people of two different countries that have never had a problem, should be the model for similar places throughout Europe.
 
And this small town even has its own system of representation and decision-making, and seeing the result that it gives them and the few fights it causes, it might be good to try it at other levels. What the little more than a hundred people do to take decisions is meet in a council of elders representing all the families of the two villages to seek solutions to domestic issues that concern them.
 

14 Comments


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