Local Activities I

Analysis of the situation: Portugal

In the frame of Local Activ­i­ties I, each project organ­i­sa­tion had to analyse the sit­u­a­tion of young migrants and urban art in its coun­try. Here you have a sum­ma­ry of the text writ­ten by Asso­ci­ação de Artis­tas Urbanos e de Trans­for­mação Social (AAUTS) con­cern­ing the sit­u­a­tion of Por­tu­gal.


In Por­tu­gal there are about 700,000 immi­grants of var­i­ous nation­al­i­ties, and these are the 5 coun­tries with the largest immi­grant pop­u­la­tions: Brazil, Cape Verde, Unit­ed King­dom, Roma­nia and Ukraine. Besides Cape Verde, there are also many immi­grants from oth­er African coun­tries such as Ango­la, Guinea-Bis­sau and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Despite being a mem­ber of the Euro­pean Union, Por­tu­gal is a coun­try with a stag­nant and weak econ­o­my, which does not pro­duce enough to redis­trib­ute to the pop­u­la­tion and thus sup­port­ing cit­i­zens who are in a sit­u­a­tion of exclu­sion, a prob­lem that has affect­ed immi­grants in a more accen­tu­at­ed way, espe­cial­ly those of African ori­gin, with­out for­get­ting the Gyp­sy community.
The dif­fi­cul­ties that are more accen­tu­at­ed are labour exploita­tion, low wages, lack of equal oppor­tu­ni­ty, lack of social sup­port, lack of oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tin­ue stud­ies, mar­gin­al­iza­tion in school con­tent, labour dis­crim­i­na­tion, dif­fi­cul­ty in access to high­er edu­ca­tion, lack of alter­na­tive edu­ca­tion, mis­in­for­ma­tion, judi­cial injus­tice and very low polit­i­cal representation.

Although there are some gov­ern­ment pro­grammes to sup­port the inclu­sion of immi­grants, the lack of infor­ma­tion and the few resources that these pro­grammes make avail­able leave out many young peo­ple, espe­cial­ly those who do not have behind an asso­ci­a­tion. There is also some lack of pro-activ­i­ty and the need for more tools to pro­mote the resilience of peo­ple in rela­tion to the sit­u­a­tion of social exclusion.


In Por­tu­gal, urban art emerged with the break­dance move­ment in the 80s. In the 90’s, graf­fi­ti and rap were added to break dance and it was on the Cas­cais line (in Car­cave­los) and Sin­tra line (in Amado­ra) that the first graf­fi­ti appeared. Rap start­ed to gain strength on the south bank of the Tejo Riv­er, with the first groups to release their first rhymes, which gave ori­gin to the first Rap music album Rapúbli­ca in the mid 90’s. Many of these artists were young peo­ple of African descent or ori­gin, along with a few Por­tuguese of ori­gin. At the same time, in those social neigh­bour­hoods most­ly inhab­it­ed by Africans, what is today called “Rap Cre­ole”, sung in Cape Verdean Cre­ole, was born.

Today, after almost 40 decades since this art form appeared, Lis­bon is con­sid­ered one of the Euro­pean cap­i­tals of graf­fi­ti art, with many murals made in dif­fer­ent styles. Much of this is due to the fol­low­ing artists: Vhils, Bor­da­lo II, Odei­th, Nomem, Add Fuel, Mar, Hazul, Pan­tónio, Styler, Utopia and oth­ers, the first three being on the list of best world­wide writ­ers. Graf­fi­ti writ­ers are in their major­i­ty white, sons of Por­tuguese, with medi­um and high­er edu­ca­tion lev­els, are most­ly men, in their age range of 25 to 40 years old. We can notice more and more the pres­ence of female writ­ers, mark­ing their pres­ence with lots of murals spread around Lis­bon. When it comes to rap­pers, most of them are quite young and of African ori­gin, with an aver­age age from 20 to 35 years old, but also, except for some old­er ones, who have been rap­ping since the 90’s. This group has for the most part a medi­um and basic lev­el of edu­ca­tion. The rap they make it por­trays the sit­u­a­tion of exclu­sion in which many of them live. There is also a very strong pres­ence of MCs of Por­tuguese ori­gin in gen­er­al, includ­ing some female rap­pers, aged between 20 and 35.