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PATRIMONIO MUNDIAL PYRÉNÉES-MONT PERDU

Historia

Commerce and contraband

Traditional society was largely self-sufficient, supplemented by various goods bought in from the chief towns in the district, Boltaña and Aínsa, and a number of places in France.

This trade became an accepted custom and practice in fairs that not only encompassed economic aspects but also offered a considerable opportunity for social exchanges.

The residents in the Pyrenees-Monte Perdido area would go to a number of fairs, among them those in Gèdre, the Aure Valley, Boltaña and Bielsa.
Other purchases of lesser importance would be made in each town or village, to which peddlers would travel with their assorted goods.

Cross-Pyrenean trade was an extremely important aspect of the relations between the valleys on the two sides of the mountains and led, at certain times in history, to the establishment of customs or trade control posts in Bielsa and Torla on the Aragonese side of the border.

Illegal trade was a no less significant part of this cross-border commerce and numerous popular tales arose about smuggling and those involved in it. Indeed, such was its impact that even the personality of these valleys was affected by it.

Smuggling is no longer carried out, but it features large in the local collective imaginary on both the Gascon and the Aragonese sides of the border.

For many years, customs officers and the police went to great lengths to halt this illegal activity, which represented an important source of income for many families up in the mountains, though they also risked imprisonment or even death if they were caught.
Novels such as La escarcha sobre los hombres (Frost on the Shoulders) by Lorenzo Mediano capture with stark realism the life of the muleteers in the Pyrenees.
Mules and other pack animals were extremely valuable to their owners and were capable of generating considerable income. Indeed, some families acquired enormous wealth from muleteering, thereby increasing not only the family's patrimony but also their social standing.


Puerto de Góriz