1975: North vs South

Half a century of Salazarism had never engendered as much anti-communism among ordinary people as 18 months of PCP* participation in various governments.

Two-thirds of the Portuguese population lived in the northern part of the country. The northern peasants had provided whatever ‘mass basis’ the previous regime had enjoyed. To this deeply conservative portion of the population (which, besides, formed the majority of Portuguese people) the revolutionary movement made no serious programmatic overtures.
The structure and problems of the North were quite different from those of the South. In southern province Evora 71% of the existing farms comprised less than 4 hectares. But together these numerous farms only covered a minute part of the land (6%). The rest was in the hands of the owners of large estates. At the other end of the spectrum, in the northern region of Viseu, there were very few large estates and some 92% of the land was covered by plots of less than 4 hectares. Similarly, all the major labour intensive factories in Portugal were in the South. Twenty one of 49 factories employing over 1000 workers were in Lisbon and Setubal.
Agrarian reform in the South presented few problems. The latifundianos fled the land (or were driven from it) and the agricultural workers merely walked in and occupied it. In Evora 90% of the population engaged in agriculture were wage earners. In Viana in the North, the figure was only 27%.
Before April 1974 PCP and MDP** theoreticians and economists had only seriously attempted to analyse the situation in the South, where capitalist contradictions were more blatant. They drew up their plans for dismantling the great latifundios and monopolies through agrarian reform. The North, almost forgotten, was now staking its claims to be remembered, and with a vengeance.
In 1968 some 42% of the cultivated land was worked by families who owned or rented their holdings. In 1968 a total of 808,804 agricultural holdings were scattered throughout the country. But the pattern differed strikingly between North and South. In the South a few latifundiarios controlled more than 500 hectares. These occupied 30% of all the land under cultivation in Portugal. In the North over half the holdings were small plots of less than 1 hectare. Here peasant families grew vegetables or kept a few sheep or a cow or two. They subsisted on their own produce. Northern families often lived entirely off the land, eating vegetables, bartering for essentials, seldom using or needing money.
Certain villages were so remote that news that a coup had taken place in Lisbon took a considerable time to sink in. The ‘cultural dynamisation’ programme of the General Staff’s Fifth Division was carried out in many areas in a manner offensive to these peasants. The local power structures were difficult to dismantle, attempts being met by the combined resistance of rural authorities, a very influential clergy and the police. The real roots of power in the countryside had in no way been threatened by the MFA. Of the PIDEs arrested by the First Provisional Government, 75% had been in the South and only some 6% in the North.
It was in the very concentrated industrial zones of South — the suburban belt of Lisbon, in Setubal (and to a lesser extent in the northern city of Porto), that the Communist Party and the extreme left had their base of support. To this must be added the agricultural proletariat of the Alentejo region, in an area where the small landed property of the North was almost non-existent , where most cultivation was conducted on large latifundias, and where the apparatus of the PCP exercised hegemony well before 1974. It was no accident that well after Nov. 25 (1975)***, the government made no effort to attack the seizures of the Alentejo latifundias or to dismantle on the agricultural cooperatives which were operating them.
The firebombings which were to spread throughout the North began in earnest in Fafe (near Porto) on June 11, when a grenade exploded in the PCP offices. Most of the terrorist actions which followed were clearly the work of the right. In Pdvoa de Varzim (near Porto) leaflets were handed out saying that the MDP (Portuguese Democratic Movement) had planned to kidnap a local priest. In Trofa, on June 16, rightist sympathisers organised a demonstration against the PCP. On July 1, the factory workers downed tools and marched from S. Joao da Madeira to the army barracks in Porto. Several hundred workers claimed that the PCP was manipulating the Administrative Council (which had been appointed by Vasco Goncalves). In Lourinha, in the centre of the country, most small farmers and workers had supported the social movements after April 25th. The local PCP criticised a local inn-keeper for renting his hall to the right-wing PPD**** for a meeting. The man was popular in the area, having hired his hall to most of the workers at one time or another for marriage feasts, etc., even charging less to the poorer workers. When the PCP called him a ‘fascist’ and a ‘reactionary’ the local small farmers and agricultural workers rallied en masse to support him. Their demonstration, like many such, was as much against the local PCP cell as in favour of the PPD (or other right-wing forces). During the demonstration fire-bombs were thrown. The only response by the PCP was to label the entire local population ‘reactionary and uneducated’. This paternalism was rampant. In order to explain divisions within the class the left groups were reduced to talking of the backwardness of the proletariat. This inflamed the ‘backward proletariat’ still further.
The backlash continued non-stop throughout July and August. In Santa Combadao, over the weekend of July 26, a crowd raided a local National Republican Guard’s barracks where an ex-PIDE was being held prisoner. In Braganca some 10,000 people turned up to hear the Bishop say Mass and began shouting ‘Down with Otelo*****, Otelo to Mozambique’. In Agueda and Esmoriz the PCP headquarters were destroyed. On July 29 the MDP offices in these towns were burned to the ground to cries of ‘Long live the CDS’. In Lourinha, where the Lisbon papers had been burned during an ‘anti-communist’ demonstration, some 300 small farmers and local businessmen marched to one of the nationalised banks (now controlled by the PCP) and called for the ‘saneamento’ of three PCP members who worked there. They claimed that agricultural credit was being granted according to party colours, and that information concerning the political beliefs of customers was being fed to the bank by local PCP workers.
PCP was accused by some 30 members of the ‘Committee for the Extinction of the PIDE’ of using PIDE files to blackmail people into supporting them. The scandal helped discredit the Fifth Government even more.
There was complete absence of any direct links between the ‘left’ and the underprivileged in the North. The PCP influence in the Ministry of Agriculture did almost nothing for the northern peasants. The situation of many of the small tenant farmers actually deteriorated. Prices increased while ‘wages’ remained fixed. Families could eat because they produced for themselves, but there was little they could afford to buy in the towns. This worsening situation did not add peasants’ sympathies to leftists.
The rightists launched a new offensive against the Goncalves government. They called demonstrations which brought 10,000 people onto the streets chanting ‘Out with Vasco’, ‘For a government of national salvation’. A PCP meeting had to be called off in Porto because of threats. On August 13, soldiers in Braga refused to protect the MDP headquarters, despite orders to do so from PCP northern Commander Corvacho.
In the North the right was in full advance. PCP and other left parties’ offices were burnt down, usually by small groups of 4 to 5 activists, while the local population just looked on, neither preventing nor assisting the arson. Why, indeed, should they defend the PCP or MDP, who had done nothing for them? 
The Right was based in all those officers and they were many — who had never identified with the MFA. The commandos in the Lisbon area were their main strike force but it had firm support from most northern units (now under Pires Veloso) and among units in the Azores and Madeira (who threatened to secede from Portugal unless military discipline was restored). They also had support in many of the air bases.
There began talks that the civil war could break out in Portugal, alike to one in Spain, 1936-39.
On November 20 a meeting of right-wing delegates in Porto discussed moving the Constituent Assembly to the North, and later the government too. Later that evening, in Rio Maior, a meeting of CAP (Confederation of Portuguese Farmers) decided that the situation was intolerable. (The group had organised a demonstration against the PCP in Santarem on November 7 and had criticised the ‘wild occupations’ taking place all over the country.) At the meeting there was talk of a ‘left wing’ coup. The solidly conservative farmers decided to ‘cut the country in half’. And they meant it. They had been addressed some weeks earlier by Galvao de Melo, of the CDS******, who had spoken of the necessity ‘to drive the communists into the sea and drown them’. This was now the moment of truth, the cut-off point between southern revolutionaries and the ‘reactionary’ North. CAR members from all over the country — including restored owners from Alentejo and land-renting landlords from the North — pledged themselves to cut down trees and block airports and railways between North and South.
On November 25 an ultra-leftist putsch broke out in Lisbon, but was suppresed in 24 hours. Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho had to resign, COPCON was dissolved. 
25 November 1975 is considered to be the end of a turbulent period commonly called the Continuing Revolutionary Process, and the beginning of liberal-democratic reforms, which successed only in 1979, when the first majority government after Apr. 25, 1974 was formed — centre-right cabinet of Fransisco Sa Carneiro.
*) PCP — Portuguese Communist Party
**) MDP — Portuguese Democratic Movement, leftist coalition formed in Salazarist era.
***) date of suppressing of the ultra-leftist putsch
****) People Democratic Party
*****) Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, ultra-leftist general, member of ‘red troika’, commander of COPCON, special shock division of army left-sympathizers.
******) Democratic and Social Centre party

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Os Retornados

Two indirect consequences of the Carnation Revolution were a collapse of the economy and dislocation of hundreds of thousands of people who returned from the colonies to Portugal as refugees.
From May 1974 to the end of the 1970s, several hundred thousands Portuguese citizens from Portugal’s African territories (mostly from Portuguese Angola and Mozambique) left those territories as destitute refugees — ‘os retornados’. (This term is also applied to Portuguese settlers who fled former Portuguese Timor in 1975 after its independence.) They began arriving in especially serious numbers in the fall of 1975 with the impending independence of Angola on Nov. 11. The total number of those among these refugees that arrived in Portugal is not clear: they range from 500,000 to 1 million.
Before the coup in Lisbon, there were 220,000 whites in Mozambique, including 30,000 troops; to the moment of proclaiming Mozambique’s independence (summer 1975) the total white population was 85,000 at most, and the troops were gone. Of the approximately 110,000 white civilians who have fled, many were allowed to take with them only a single suitcase and $150 in escudos, leaving behind household goods.
As the Portuguese departed, both manufacturing and agriculture sagged. Crop levels that year for tea, tobacco, cotton and cashew nuts dropped sharply. At the port cities of Nacala, Beira and Lourenco Marques, efficiency was down 80% and pilferage has doubled in the past year.
Independence proved to be even more traumatic in Mozambique’s sister colony of Angola, which became independent in November 1975. Whites were crowding aboard planes at Luanda’s Craveiro Lopes Airport at the rate of 500 per day, but there were not enough flights to satisfy the demand. In all, about 100,000 Portuguese left Angola during the year after the coup in Lisbon, reducing the territory’s relatively large white population to about 400,000, but many more were anxious to leave. It was the greatest exodus in the history of Africa. Not even the Congo, where in 1960 the white population fell from 110,000 to 20,000 between January and July, was like what is happening in Angola now. Angola’s 500,000 or so white people, nearly all of them Portuguese, had had enough. But the half-million whites had nowhere in Angola to go and a haven outside was hard to find. South Africa does not exactly offer a welcoming face to thousands of non-Protestant, non-Afrikaans-or-English-speaking immigrants who, despite their years in Africa, “do not understand the South African way of life”. Brazil was in theory a better prospect but only the middle class could afford to go so far; and in July the Brazilian airline, Varig, ceased its flights through Luanda to Rio, which were already fully booked to mid-October.
So Portugal, if anywhere, it has to be for most of them. But this is not a happy prospect for the riot-beset and unemployment-haunted Portuguese junta. The whites of Angola had no love for the military which, they say, has sold them out. The majority of them are conservative by instinct and a large proportion come from the north of Portugal, the present stronghold of the anti-Communist opposition. When a returning white was asked recently what he would do when he got back to Portugal he replied matter of factly that if he couldn’t get a job he’d join up with the ELP*.
For a long time the Portuguese government delayed any substantial help for the refugees. It had finally recognised its responsibility to its citizens in Angola in the beginning of August, the launching “Operation Air Bridge”. Portuguese officials said they had plan to bring home between 250,000 and 300,000 people by the end of October. Up to 200,000 had left Angola before August; in June and early July more than 6,000 a week were taking scheduled commercial flights on the Portuguese airline, TAP, and another 3,500 were flown home on military aircraft. Since then the Portuguese airline had been chartering whatever jets it can obtain.
The Portuguese government had also chartered two ships, one to carry passengers and the other to carry the refugees’ luggage and cars. But some whites, fed up with the huge queues at shipping and airline offices and the up-to-four-month delay in getting a reservation, took matters into their own hands. At one time there was talk that a  Portuguese truck driver named Guilherme dos Santos was organizing a full-scale cross-Africa expedition of 2,000 trucks and 300 cars that will make 6,000-mile journey overland to Morocco in a month’s time; this arduous journey proved too much even for the most desperate. But several hundred refugees had reached South West Africa, and a convoy of 300 vehicles was allowed across the border there by the South African authorities.
The exodus has a devastating effect on Angola’s economy and administration. The whites had the prerogative of all the skilled and many of the semi-skilled jobs in the country. Local government has collapsed, and those essential services which continue do so more or less by inertia. Much of the coffee crop, which made Angola the world’s fourth biggest coffee exporter, was going unpicked and was hit by disease. Diamond mining stopped completely; sisal and cotton stood uncut and unpicked. The coffee towns of Carmona and Malange have been abandoned and even in Luanda only a few white women can still be seen. Teachers, taxi drivers, civil servants, bank clerks, secretaries and doctors had gone or were going.
The vast majority of ‘retornados’ forced onto the heavily burdened government dole, occupying in cramped conditions every available hotel room in Lisbon and producing a severe housing shortage in a country where such accommodations were already in short supply. The ‘retornados’ whiled away their time on the vast Rossio plaza in the heart of downtown Lisbon, a volatile social force deeply antipathetic to the “forces of revolution” (in which most of them included the PSP of Mario Soares) which they felt had betrayed the ex-colonies. Some, especially from the military, came into conflict with the communist wing of the new government, and their involvement fed into both right-wing and pro-democracy political forces, which overthrew an attempted coup by radical leftist military units on 25 November 1975. Among these forces were the Salazarist ELP (Army for Portuguese Liberation), which was being supplied and directed in liaison with former PIDE elements and other right-wing groups operating across the border in Spain, and the Spinola-led and Francoist funded MDLP (Democratic Movement for the Liberation of Portugal). These groups, as it is considered, carried out a number of attacks and bombings during the “Hot Summer” of 1975, mostly in the north of Portugal, while the MDLP was involved in the attempted coup of 11 March. When ultra-leftist coup failed in November, the MDLP disbanded, the ELP continued its campaign.
*) ELP, Exercito de Libertacao Portugues — Portuguese Liberation Army, ultra-right-wing organization, created by Barbieri Cardoso, former vice-director of PIDE

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Children of Empire

The decolonization process was poorly done (among many things: the rights of the citizens that lived in African territories, and considered themselves Portuguese, were not clear in the decolonization agreement; Portugal failed to offer collaterals against the properties that its citizens owned in African [so after the decolonisation many lost all their possessions and returned to Portugal empty handed]; and they passed on the government of the territories to unprepared people, without setting up a transitional government, ignoring thus the consequences of such a reckless act). 
Portugal let down the Children of its empire. 
The soldiers that fought in the overseas war: These children of the empire fought to defend their nation’s imperialistic sovereignty; came back defeated, with psychological and physical scars and, what did Portugal do? It didn’t give them any support; it didn’t recognise their job, their sacrifices, their patriotic duty; it didn’t even compensate them as it has been promising for years – they will die and still not see a dime.
The African assimilated: These children of the empire… when arriving to Portugal, after the decolonisation, had to go through a naturalisation process even though they had documents stating that they had been Portuguese all their lives. 
The Portuguese who lived in Africa: These children of the empire lost everything they had built in the African territories, and by decree of the vengeful new African leaders they had to leave the countries (where many had grown up in) in 24 hours, being allowed to carry only 20kgs of all their possessions – this operation was called 24/20. Upon their arrival to Portugal they were labelled as “Os Retornados” (the returning ones), and classified as second class citizens. 
Interestingly enough they (along with the assimilated) were the ones who cleaned and developed Portugal (for when they arrived there, Portugal was a pitiful country whose capital was surrounded by slums – which didn’t exist in their African nations prior to 1975 – and didn’t have high buildings, which existed already, for example, in Mozambique).
The Children of the children of the empire: They grew up listening to how despicable Portugal was in 1975-1977; how in Africa Coca-cola existed for ages (Mozambicans were called “The Coca-colas”), and Portugal ignored what it was all about (note: it only had Coca-cola in 1984); and how socialism had ruined the work of their parents in the African territories…
These kids have a mix of love and hate for Portugal. Love because they know nothing else but their own country; and hate because of what it did to their parents. 
The Portuguese way of dealing with the decolonisation: Anyone questioning it is a fascist. Not to teach it in our schools, thus proving to not have pride in its History. To Hope that everyone will obliterate it as time goes by. 
However the Children of the Empire will never let the Portuguese dark page of history die. They will pass it on to their children, the children of their children and the children of their children’s children.
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Red Fascism in Portugal after April 25, 1974

September 28, 1974: there hundreds of arrests made by COPCON* – late at night, without warrants, the imprisoned are incarcerated in Caxias military prison and other jails.

October 10: 82 arrested clergymen incarcerated in Caxias, other 46 – in Cadeia do Limoeiro, and 233 nuns – in Marine Arsenal.

Books were ordered to be burned in schools.
The dispatch was signed by State Secretary on Pedagogic Orientation, Rui Gracio on Oct. 17, 1974: “Tending information that there exists appreciable quantity of fascist books and magazines, we determined to elaborate a circular ordering to destruct publications of such a character after at least one exemplar chosen of each book and journal being saved in archives to be documents testifying of regime”.
On March 26, 1975 Director-General of Education Committee, Maria Justina Sepulveda Fonseca announced to librarians through circular #1\75 that they “should not lose an opportunity to launch, urgently, a sanation of books which do not meet ideological, literary or technical conditions”.
In this period ministers of education were Vitorino Magalhaes Godinho and Major Antonio Emilio da Silva.
Amongst authors, whose books were burnt in schools according orders of authorities, were historians Antonio Matoso and Jose Hermano Saraiva (Minister of National Education 1968-1970), who declared on July 24, 2005: “Teachers in general did not want to [execute instructions of Ministry] and many of them saved books. But who would dare to protest openly?.. I did not. I was poor, was afraid to be left without pension or even sent to Caxias. My friends were imprisoned for less sins. Before April 25, 1974 there were 88 prisoners in Portugal, three months later there were 3,000 of them. Liberty ended on Apr. 25”.
The commission collected complaints from 17 persons on illegal activity committed by personnel of Regiment of military police (RPM).
For instance:
– a civil person, arrested on Oct. 17, 1975 for suspicion of collaboration in aggression or robbery attempt towards a military man, complained that he had been “beaten for five days which caused many physical injuries” and had been “made to crawl naked around the parade-ground, to kiss their boots and the regiment’s emblem”;
– “many refer attempts of sexual violence, threatens by death of gun or throwing out of the window”;
– a military man, arrested because of a prostitute claiming he was a gang leader, “was threated that they would beat his eight-years-old son till he admit his crimes”.
It was underlined that “in RPM reigned the ambience of general indiscipline, even anarchy”. There were cases of tortures resulting in victims’ being hospitalized unconscious.

Concerning activity of personnel of First artillery regiment, or Lisbon artillery regiment (RALIS) the commission got complaints from 11 persons.
For instance:
– Jose Jaime Coelho, ex-Marine, was “sequestered” on May 15, 1975 by military men of RALIS and a civil person, and driven, blind-folded, to some house where he “was interrogated and maltreated”. The interrogation concerned some activity related to an eventual coup d’etat. “His hands and legs tied, he was beaten up till fainting, was tortured psychically seeing his kidnapped wife and indecent acts taken towards her and hearing her cries”. He was then taken to another house where “his eyes were radiated with infra-red rays” and they threated him with death. Then, after being hospitalized for some time, he had been incarcerated in Caxias in incommunicability regime for three months. His wife, Maria Natercia Coelho da Silva, was kidnapped from a hotel where she stayed, on May 15, 1975, by some camouflaged men. She was driven t a house where she was tied in presence of her husband. She was beaten up in presence of her tied husband, threatened with death and raped;
– Lieutenant Marcelino da Mata “was tortured by electrical shocking his nose, ears and sexual organs”;
– A military student Jose Antonio Cardoso Veloso and his father, a judge-counsellor of Supreme Administrative Tribunal, Francisco Jose de Sousa Veloso, were arrested on May 18, 1975. They were driven to RALIS quarters, where the judge “was interrogated concerning abuses and his son was tortured and beaten”. They pretended to confess  being part of “contre-revolutionary network preparing a coup against the regime”. They were beaten in face and body with arms and belts, kicked with feet, beaten against the wall – with heads and whole bodies, their hands and sexual organs were screwed, they were being strangled and cut with razors. 

Personnel of RPM and RALIS was accused of illegal incarceration, tortures and physical violence towards military and civil persons.
– There were hundreds of illegal arrests, especially those made after Sept. 28 and March 11and responsibility for which lies on personnel of RPM;
– Some arrests were results of anonymous announcements or other kinds of information or indications of political parties, many – of verbal solicitations made by phone, particularly from Prime-Minister’s office, Ministry of Labour, Service on Coordination of Extinction of PIDE/DGS** and Portuguese Legion, commission on September 28***, inquiry comission on March 11****, Admiral Rosa Coutinho’s office;
– in many cases arrests were made without warrants;
– search and arrest warrants given by COPCON, were in general signed blank, unfilled;
– there were cases of incarceration for long terms, during which prisoners were left completely abandoned;
– many interrogations were made by incompetent military and civil representatives of political organizations;
– there were cases of systematical tortures and physical violence causing heavy injuries (in cases of victims of RALIS);
– in other cases physical tortures were of some sporadic character (victims of RPM);
– there were many cases of physical violence towards prisoners and beating by several men simultaneously;
– there were cases of moral tortures, insults, threatenings – particularly with fire weapons;
– former agents of PIDE\DGS had been imprisoned for more than two years without judgement;
– there were imprisonments in incommunicability and isolation regime for different terms depending on military men’s wishes, up to five-month term. This regime included deprivation of physical exercises and contacts with lawyers;
– there were cases of bad medicine treatment causing prisoners’ health’s worsening, deprivation of hygiene accessories;
– in RPM 60 prisoners were kept in a room meant for no more than 8.

March 11, 1975 – firing at mini-van.

This episode was filmed by a group of some foreign TV-company (French one) which stayed near the entrance to RALIS quarters during this event. This film, which was shown in Portugal for the first time in many years, shows a mini-van with two man inside slowing down and stopping near a barricade constructed by soldiers near RALIS quarters. It’s impossible to tell exactly what was going on while the van stayed near RALIS, there are different versions of the words with which could change soldiers and men in the van.

Then there was a signal given that they may go and the van started and a few moments later shooting began, which sounded till the van stopped again. Camera closes on it and one can see two men inside it covered with blood and crying for help and saying they had not done anything bad… This film shooted by a foreign TV-company and related to important events of Portugal’s past, has remained unknown in Portugal for many years – in Portugal which was so proud of censorship’s ending as a result of Apr. 25…
*) Continental Operational Command, a military structure created after Apr. 25 coup. Consisted of special military forces, such as marines, paratroopers, commandos, military police, Infantry of Queluz and RALIS. Was a mighty centre of leftist propaganda and actionism. Existed till Nov. 28, 1975, was annihilated after leftist putsch’s fail.
**) Portuguese secret service, 1930s-1974. Annihilated after April coup.
***) General Spinola’s attempt to cease outspreading of red totalitarianism in Portugal. Spinola’s attempt failed and he had to resign.
****) Gen. Spinola attempt to regain power and stop communism
the materials in Portuguese were used while writing:

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Concerning communistic scary-tales of Tarrafal camp

Tarrafal  was a prison camp in Cabo Verde, then a Portuguese overseas territory, set up after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (1936), where the fiercest enemies of Estado Novo regime were sent. Such a decision was an emergency measure in conditions of bloody wave of violence overflowing Iberian peninsula. Salazar answering the question about his regime’s cruel treating its opponents, noticed that all of these men were “always or almost always terrorists and extremists, ones who constructed bombs or hid fire-arms”. “Whether, asked he, saving lives of helpless people is not worth rude treating of a dozen of rotten criminals?” 
There was Decree-Law №26:539, April 23, 1936, which emerged in context of reorganization of penitentiary system and gave birth to “penal colony” constructed for keeping persons sentenced to “special penalties”, as read Decree-Law №26:643, May 28, 1936, on reorganization of prisons. Paragraphs 1 and 2 of article 2 of Decree-Law №26:539 say the colony serves for receiving political and social prisoners sentenced to exile and not fit for being jailed in other prisons being injurious for other prisoners. Besides, the list includes persons condemned to long terms of imprisonment for crimes committed for political goals and those imprisoned for crime of rebellion. 
On October 29, 1936 the first prisoners arrived in Tarrafal camp. During 18 years of the first period of the camp’s functioning, a total of 340 political prisoners went through it, 32 of them died there. There were mutineers from army and navy, as well as members of the “international brigades” fighting in Spanish civil war, communists, anarchists, terrorists and other extremists.
The camp guards consisted of 25 members of the Portuguese Secret police PVDE (starting from 1945 – PIDE) as well as a battallion of over 75 Angolan Auxiliary guards and few Cabo Verdiem.
The camp was closed in 1954. But was re-opened in the 1960s to jail terrorists from Portuguese Africa – 236 terrorists went through it till Apr. 25, 1974.
Let us sum up: during almost 30 years of camp’s existing, there were 576 persons (340 during 1936-54 period plus 236 more during 60-70s) jailed in it in total. 32 prisoners died there. How many people were kept and killed in Stalin’s communistic camps – just because they were of “wrong” “social origin”, because they were laborious peasants and businessmen, former officers and civil officials of old Russian regime, clergymen, monks, or just educated persons, or because they just believed in God? Hundreds of thousands. And “fascist regime” of old Portugal is called fascist because there were several hundreds of criminals – extremists (just alike their brothers-in-mind from Spain where in 1930s they killed clergymen, monks and simple believers and profanated tombs and corpses) and later, communistic and tribalistic fanatic terrorists – in Tarrafal and a couple dozens of them died there. “Fascist regime” without death penalty, with exile (pena de desterro) as the capital punishment. “Fascist regime” with a “concentration camp” with 576 prisoners in it during 30 years of its existance. How then should be called Soviet regime, with its death penalty, Gulag and hundreds of thousands of its victims, – superfascist? ultrafascist? hyperfascist? 
Nevertheless, in spite of these circumstances, scary-tales about exceptional sadism and cruelty of methods with which regime’s enemy were treated in Salazar’s Portugal, are being told till now. 

“Tarrafal – never more”, says slogan at the demonstration of leftists, who usually hysterically equalize Tarrafal with… Dachau! 

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War in Portuguese Africa

 The Portuguese, who had settled in Africa and ruled considerable territory since the 15th century, believed in a multi-racial overseas empire. Portuguese leaders, including Salazar, defended the policy of multiracialism and civilising mission, or Lusotropicalism, as a way of integrating Portuguese colonies, and their peoples, more closely with Portugal itself. For the Portuguese ruling regime, the overseas empire was a matter of national interest. The Portuguese having been in Africa for much longer than the other colonial empires had developed strong relations with the local people and therefore was able to win them over. In Portuguese Africa, trained Portuguese black Africans were allowed to occupy positions in several occupations including specialized military, administration, teaching, health and other posts in the civil service and private businesses, as long as they had the right technical and human qualities. In addition, intermarriage with white Portuguese was a common practice since the earlier contacts with the Europeans. The access to basic, secondary and technical education was being expanded and its availability was being increasingly opened to both the indigenous and European Portuguese of the territories. Examples of this policy include several black Portuguese Africans who would become prominent individuals during the war or in the post-independence, and who had studied during the Portuguese rule of the territories in local schools or even in Portuguese schools and universities in the mainland (the metropole) – Samora Machel, Mario Pinto de Andrade, Marcelino dos Santos, Eduardo Mondlane, Agostinho Neto, Amilcar Cabral, Jonas Savimbi, Joaquim Chissano, and Graca Machel are just a few examples. Two large state-run universities were founded in Portuguese Africa in the 1960s (the Universidade de Luanda in Angola and the Universidade de Lourenco Marques in Mozambique, awarding a wide range of degrees from engineering to medicine), during a time that in the European mainland only four public universities were in operation, two of them in Lisbon. Several figures in Portuguese society, including one of the most idolized sports stars in Portuguese football history, a black football player from Portuguese East Africa named Eusebio, were other examples of multiracialism.

The conflict began in Angola on 4 February 1961. In March 1961, the US backed UPA (Angola People Union) which was based in Zaire entered northern Angola and proceeded to massacre the civilian population killing about 1,500 whites and 20,000 blacks (women and children included of both white European and black African descent) through cross-border attacks, under the full knowledge of the US Government – it was the start of the Portuguese Colonial War. John F. Kennedy would later notify Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (via the US consulate in Portugal) to immediately abandon the colonies. A US backed coup which would be known as the Abrilada, was also attempted to overthrow Salazar’s Estado Novo regime. It is due to this failed coup that Salazar was able to consolidate power and finally send a military response to the massacres occurring in Angola. As the war progressed, Portugal rapidly increased its mobilized forces. In addition, by the end of the Portuguese colonial war, in 1974, black African participation had become crucial, representing about half of all operational colonial troops of Portugal. By the early 1970s, the war was already won. The military threat was so minor at the later stages that immigration to Angola and Mozambique was actually increasing, as were the economies of the then Portuguese territories.

In early 1974, the war was reduced to sporadic independentist guerrilla operations against the Portuguese in non-urbanized countryside areas far away from the main centers. The Portuguese have secured all cities, towns and villages in Angola and Mozambique, protecting its white, black and mixed race populations from any sort of armed threat. A sound environment of security and normality was the norm in almost all Portuguese Africa. The only exception was Portuguese Guinea, the smallest of all continental African territories under Portuguese rule, where independentist guerrilla operations, strongly supported by neighbouring allies like Guinea and Senegal, managed to have higher levels of success. The guerrilla war was almost won in Angola, shifting to near total war in Guinea (although the territory was still under total control of the Portuguese military), and worsening in the north of Mozambique. The US was so certain that the Portuguese presence in Africa was guaranteed that it was completely caught by surprise by the effects of the Carnation revolution.

The Soviet Union, realising that a military solution it had so successfully employed in several other countries around the world was not bearing fruit, dramatically changed strategy. It focused instead on Portugal. With the growing popular discontent over the casualties of the war and due to the large economic divide between the rich and poor the communists were able to manipulate junior officers of the military. A group of Portuguese military officers under the influence of communists, would proceed to over throw the Portuguese government with what was later called the Carnation Revolution on 25 April 1974 in Lisbon, Portugal. This led to a period of economic collapse and political instability.

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50th anniversary of Angola massacre and war beginning in Portuguese ‘ultramar’

On the morning of March 15, 1961, some fifty places over a 400-mile front were attacked as part of a plan carefully prepared by the communist-backed terrorist “liberation movement” in Angola, then a Portuguese province. The terrorists, primed with drugs, alcohol and native witchcraft, butchered over 200 Europeans and some 800 Africans. Women and children were raped, cut up and mutilated. Unborn children were cut out of the wombs of their still living mothers. A young girl of 18 was crucified on a tree and her breasts cut off while she was still alive. An Italian priest, Father Graziani and his assistant Tiburcio, were tied to stakes and bestially tortured for two days before being killed. In the town of Quitexe the men were castrated and killed, and most children had their eyes gouged out and died most likely from the resultant hemorrhages. In Luvro the owner of the local saw mill, his wife, two small sons and several others were tied to planks of wood and sawed in half lengthwise while possibly still alive. These are only some examples among many; the photographs of the corpses of the victims were stomach-turning (Portuguese-American Committee on Foreign Affairs pamphlet). The American news media reported this event minimally if at all; at the time they vociferously promoted the “liberation” of European colonies like Angola.

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