As Feitorias do Cânhamo e o Império!

OnJack

hempadao 1 julho, 2013

Ultrapassado o período exploratório dos Descobrimentos, a prioridade das autoridades portuguesas passou a ser consolidar o império intercontinen­tal conquistado no século anterior — com o resultado da importância da cannabis entre nós ter crescido mais ainda, dada a vasta armada à vela necessária para tal efeito. Assim, tendo como base a preocupação régia relativamente ao abastecimento da indústria naval, em meados do século XVII a coroa promulgou uma série de Regimentos destinados a regulamentar e fiscalizar apertadamente o cultivo e produção de cannabis, a aplicar às Feitorias do Linho Cânhamo existentes em Santarém, Torre de Moncorvo e Coimbra, os principais pólos de cultivo e transformação de cannabis em Portugal.

 

Começando por decretar a obrigatoriedade da cultura do linho cânhamo (não só para os lavradores como para todos os donatários de terras das regiões abrangidas), os Regimentos ocupavam-se de todos os detalhes referentes à trans­formação dos linhos e seu transporte pe­los produtores até às feitorias, proibindo o comércio e a fabricação particulares de artigos de cânhamo. Sobre este claro contexto de monopólio régio escreveu a historiadora Maria Helena da Cruz Coelho: "Os interesses nacionais de manu­tenção do império ultramarino ditavam, no século XVII, estas medidas rígidas e concretas".

Note-se que as Feitorias cuidavam apenas da recolha e armazenamento do linho cânhamo, não possuindo terras de cultivo próprias.

Para compensar o carácter impositivo que revestiam, os Regimentos enumera­vam algumas compensações para os la­vradores obrigados a cultivar cânhamo, as quais porém se reduziam praticamente aos benefícios que a terra retira desta cultura, pois "rece­bem as mesmas terras grande benefício com a dita semente, por­que descansam e se fortalecem para em outros anos darem maior abundância de trigo". Claramente, como constata o his­toriador Telmo Verdelho a propósito do Regimento de Moncorvo, estes decretos são "um testemunho do exercício violen­to do poder político, da ação centrali­zadora do Estado em prejuízo de uma zona do país tão desprotegida como ex­plorada", pois impunham o cultivo em terras que por vezes não eram apropria­das, com consequências negativas para os lavradores transmontanos, que assim “pagara dolorosamente a independên­cia de Espanha e foram sa­crificados às necessidades da colonização do Brasil".

O Regimento de Moncorvo era tão pormenorizado que dedicava um capítulo às chaves da Feitoria. Especificava-se que haveria três chaves, intransmissíveis, para ace­der à Feitoria, e ainda que, devido ao risco de incêndio, "nunca se abrirá a feitoria para se receber ou entregar e fiar linho, senão de dia, se fechará às horas convenientes". De fato, os processos de ilumi­nação então usados exigiam todas as cautelas, a ponto de um adágio popular ter imortalizado esse receio: "Por um só cabelinho pode arder todo o linho".

As Feitorias do Linho Cânhamo canalizavam a maior parte dos seus stocks de filaça para a capital do reino, mais precisamente para as oficinas de cordoaria e velame dos Arsenais Reais, que funcionaram na Ribeira das Naus, em Lisboa, até à sua destruição por um incên­dio que se seguiu ao terremoto de 1755. Nesse mesmo ano, por proposta do Marquês de Pombal, D. José promulgou um decreto determi­nando a construção na praia da Junqueira, em Lisboa, de insta­lações mais amplas e funcionais para a transformação do cânhamo com fins náu­ticos; só porém em 1788 aí começaria a funcionar a Real Fábrica da Cordoaria da Junqueira, que ficou conhecida por Cordoaria Nacional.

Existiam no entanto em Portugal outros centros de transformação de cordame. Segundo o investi­gador Jorge de Macedo, "Em 1780, Agostinho Rebelo da Costa cita como exemplo de uma grande "fábri­ca" a Fábrica da Cordoaria do Linho e Cânhamo do Porto, cuja produção permitia dispensar a cordoaria inglesa, e que possuía cerca de 300 operários". Diz a obra citada de Agostinho Rebelo da Costa, Descripção topográfica e histórica da cidade do Porto: "Entre todas essas fabricas a que merece o primeiro lugar, he a das Cordagens, e Massames necessários para Navios, Naos e todo o gênero de embarcaçoens. Está situada num largo, e comprido Campo chamado a Cor­doaria nova (…) porque o seu pri­meiro estabelecimento foi ao pé da Igreja de S. Pedro de Miragaya, aonde há huma rua, que ainda con­serva o nome de Cordoaria Velha".

No final do século XVIII a cannabis era ainda a cultura não alimentar primordial em Portugal, como atesta a edi­ção em 1799 do Tratado Sobre o Canamo, a versão nacional de uma obra francesa, que abre com a epígrafe: "Não há planta alguma que seja tao util ao homem; ainda excede ao grão frumentaceo [trigo]". Na introdução do Tratado, o tradutor Martim Francisco Ribeiro d’Andrade dirige-se a D. Maria I, chamando a atenção da rainha para a importância da "preciosa planta" nos desígnios nacionais, considerando a cannabis "um dos objectos de primeira necessidade para as Potencias Marítimas, como a nossa, de que VOSSA ALTEZA REAL goza o Supremo commando".

Apesar da cordoaria desde cedo ter canalizado para si a maioria da produção de cânhamo nacional, as necessidades da intensa atividade de construção naval eram tais que apenas a importação permitia satisfazê-las totalmente. Segundo LePortu­gal au Point de Vue Agricole, obra de 1900, "o nosso país é obrigado a tomar de empréstimo e importar da Rússia um stock bastante considerável de câ­nhamo em rama, porque as condições económicas da produção agrícola tornam hoje a cultura em causa pouco vantajosa, se exceptuarmos as terras de Trás-os-Montes".

Mas os tempos estavam a mudar. Com o advento da Revolução industrial, a atração pelo cultivo de cânhamo-de-cannabis diminuía rapidamente em to­da a Europa — e Portugal, apesar do seu incipiente progresso tecnológico, não era exceção na matéria, como dá conta o Visconde de Villa-Maior no artigo "O Canamo na Villariça", publicado em 1863 na revista Archivo Rural. Depois de refe­rir que "[a] cultura dos linhos (canha­mos) é fácil e incomoda pouco os lavra­dores", Villa-Maior assinala que "todas as dificuldades e embaraços aparecem depois que a planta é arrancada para ser entregue às diversas operações que têm por fim separar a matéria filamentosa" após o que enumera explicações para o declínio desta cultura em Trás os Montes nos finais do século XIX: “1º Porque oespaço que se lhe pode consagrar, e que decerto não excede nem talvez atinge 100 hectares, a restringe consideravel­mente. 2o Porque as operações verdadei­ramente industriais, da preparação da filaça, que se devem forçosamente pra­ticar num período muito limitado, re­querem muitos braços e é difícil encon­trá-los aqui disponíveis na época opor­tuna. 3o Porque a extracção do cânhamo é aqui limitada pelo emprego que lhe dão os cordoeiros de Vila Nova de Foz Coa, que são os únicos consumidores que sustentam o preço acima indicado. 4º Finalmente, porque o vergonhoso atraso em tudo o que diz respeito a vias de comunicação torna infesadas e de pouco vulto todas as reclamações co­merciais".

Apesar de apelos bem intencionados ("Por isso é precisa dos agricultores a sua atenção para que renasça esta importan­te cultura, e do governo a devida protecção para bem da economia do país", es­creve-se em As Terras de Entre Sabor e Douro, uma obra regionalista de 1908), o declínio acentuou-se — e no princípio do século XX o cultivo do cânhamo-de-cannabis estava praticamente extinto em Portugal.

O OnJack publica, semanalmente, trechos da tradução do livro de Jack Herer, The Emperor Wears no Clothes.



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