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About Raimundo Narciso,
the family Cruz and Portugal.

For Frank and all our American cousins

Note to American readers... Raimundo is my cousin in Portugal and a principal contributor to the family history. I asked him to write this brief autobiographical sketch. Don't be shocked by the word "Communist". Communist parties have been a standard part of European politics for over a century, as they were of US politics prior to the end of WWII. Bear in mind that Portugal, like Spain, was suffering under a fascist dictatorship similar to the ones in Germany and Italy, and (along with Spain) that outlived those two by several decades with the full support of the government of the United States.  —Frank da Cruz
Last updated: Wed Mar 21 16:28:19 2018 New York time

1938/1948 - Vilar

Raimundo Narciso (b.1938) lived with his parents Manuel and Ilda and his sister, Helena Maria (b.1940) in the village of Vilar, county and municipality of Cadaval, until 1948 when he entered Passos Manuel public secondary school in Lisbon for 5th and 6th grade.

His family lived from farming: the cultivation of vineyards and winemaking but also horticultural and forestry production. They raised chickens, turkeys, ducks, and rabbits for their own use and sometimes for sale. In the land by the house, his father planted a variety of fruit trees beyond the vineyard for family consumption and he set up a business buying grapes and making wine.

Elementary school 1946
1946 Prof. Ilda, Vilar, elementary school Casa do Povo, Raimundo is 5th from the left, first row.
Raimundo and Helena with their mother 1942
Raimundo and Helena with mother 1942

In the first four years of elementary school, the teachers forced us to wait in a group for their arrival and greet them with the outstretched-arm fascist salute, but despite that they treated us well.

Our village was deeply Catholic. Most of the adult population was illiterate. Their culture and ideology were whatever the priest dispensed in masses and sermons. The dictator Salazar was held up as a saint.

My grandfather João lived in our house and died in 1940 at the age of 92. He was very religious and when he could no longer go to church he prayed at home.

1948/1950 - Lisbon

I had 5th and 6th grades at the Lyceum Passos Manuel in Lisbon, it was for boys only. I was living with family friends in the Lisbon neighborhood of Madragoa, just opposite the Palace of Saint Benedict (São Bento), which is the Parliament House. Wednesdays and Saturdays we had to go for uniformed military instruction in the Portuguese Youth paramilitary organization, similar to Hitler Youth and Mussolini's Gioventù Italiana del Littorio.

1950/1956 - Vilar

From 3rd to 7th grade I went to school in Torres Vedras, a distance of 18km. In Vilar, my father Manuel was the only person who read the daily newspaper and the Time and Life magazines that his brother Daniel sent him from the United States, and he was the only person who declared himself an atheist. Often we spent Sunday afternoon with his brother Francisco and Francisco's children (Diniz, Francisco, Alice, Lena [Madalena], Luzia) and grandchildren, frequently discussing politics. Francisco and his children were supporters of Salazar, who decreed national mourning when Hitler committed suicide in Berlin in 1945.

My family in June 1953
The family in June 1953. Front row, left to right: Soares, Francisco, his wife Luzia, Eurico, Diniz, Arlete (wife Francisco Jr.), Ilda (my mother, wife of my father Manuel), Alice, Margarida (wife of Diniz), Lena (Madalena) and Manuel. Second row, on top: Raimundo (me), Teresa (Diniz's daughter), Helena Maria (my sister), Maria do Carmo (Micá) in the hat (Alice's daughter), Francisco Jr. (in hat), Carlota (hat, daughter of Diniz), José (Zeca, son of Francisco Jr.), and Pedro (son of Diniz). The three little ones in the middle, between Margarida and Lena, are Fátima, Rui, and Luzia (Zita), children of Diniz.

1956/1964 - University in Lisbon

Universidade 1956
Raimundo 2nd from left
In October 1956 I left Vilar for Lisbon to study electrical engineering at the Instituto Superior Técnico (IST). In addition to my classes, I joined the Student Association (EA) and the highly politicized student movement, which was one of the main fronts in the fight against the dictatorship and censorship and for freedom and democracy. In those days, everything that was published, newspaper or book, had to be passed by the government censors, who cut news items and banned books.

1961 Day of the Student
1961 Cultural and political "Day of the Student" for freedom and democracy, Student Association of the IST.
That was when my political awakening took place, and in secret I was recruited by the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP)*.

When the colonial wars started in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, and Mozambique, the government drafted all young males to go and fight in Africa. I had to interrupt my studies three times: For the cultural and political "Day of the Student" in 1961 (a protest against the wars and the draft by the IST Student Association), then as an officer in the Army, and then to train soldiers and NCOs for the wars in Africa.**

Meanwhile my sister Helena Maria also came to study in Lisbon, where she got her degree in biological sciences. Some time later, she went to Paris with her husband, Jaime Mascarenhas, fleeing political persecution. After the overthrow of the dictatorship she returned to Portugal with her husband and 3-year-old daughter, Helena Maria Narciso Mascarenhas, and worked as a teacher in Lisbon until her retirement.

* Editor's note: Raimundo says "Until the revolution on April 25, 1974, the Communist Party was illegal. If the PIDE (secret police) discovered that you were a party member you were immediately arrested and interrogated, and if you refused to answer you were subjected to torture, often terrible tortures."
** Of his military service, Raimundo says it was compulsory in Portugal until 1999. Rather than wait to be drafted, he enlisted so as to serve at a time that would least disrupt his university studies. But then because of his knowledge of engineering they made him an officer and charged him with teaching artillery training classes in Portugal. The colonial wars started after he joined the Army, and after his Army tour was over, he was called back twice to "give military training to the Portuguese youth forced to fight the liberation movements of Angola, Guinea and Mozambique. I was obliged to give military instruction and also to defend the right of Portugal to colonize the lands of Africa. But very cautiously, I questioned the soldiers about African land and diamond mines and iron, asking them if it all belonged Africans whether they rebelled or not." As noted below, large segments of the Army opposed the wars.

1964/1974 - Underground

In 1974 I decided to live clandestinely, under a false identity and at a secret residence, to create an armed organization to fight against the dictatorship. It was a very painful decision, on a personal level because it forced me to drop out of school just when it was getting interesting, with the news in physics about the discovery of new nuclear particles.
Raimundo and Maria
Maria and Leonor
Leonor and Raimundo
Raimundo underground with Maria and daughter Leonor*

It was a decision made only after much introspection. It would be necessary to risk our lives, endure police torture, and never report anything or anyone. I knew the stories of many people tortured to the brink of death. I made this decision without consulting the family and without consulting my girlfriend. It was a terrible shock for everyone.

The creation of the new group "Armed Action Revolutionary - ARA" was very difficult. More that 100 Communist Party members were imprisoned and I had to postpone the creation of the ARA for a year of training in Moscow, July 1966 to June 1967. One of the prisoners suffered terrible torture and he should never have been arrested.

During my training in Moscow in political economy, philosophy, history, Russian language, I met Maria Machado, my wife, a young woman of 18 years and we decided to marry when we returned to Portugal, which was in 1968, and she came to live with me in hiding. Previously she had lived some years with her parents who were also underground.

The ARA was created as a non-terrorist organization, it never killed anybody. The armed actions were planned and executed to not put people at risk. One of the objectives of the ARA was that its actions would give hope and confidence to the workers, students, and the middle classes to transform their peaceful struggles, protests, strikes, demonstrations into a general insurrection to overthrow the dictatorship, with the help of the military (which provided much of the arms and information we needed to acheive our goals).

The main objective of the fight was to sabotage the logistics of the colonial wars. One of the most important armed actions was the destruction of almost all the aircraft and pilot training helicopters for the colonial wars inside the headquarters of Air Base 3, located in the country's largest military base at Tancos in the central part of the country:

It was carried out by myself and two veterans of the PCP: Jaime Serra, underground for many years and before that in four prisons for a total of six years, and Francisco Miguel with a total of 22 years in prison, many of them in the Tarrafal concentration camp in the former colony and current Republic of Cape Verde.

Raimundo 1972/73
Photo circulated by PIDE** in newspapers and on TV 1972-73
They were champions of prison escapes, four each! The last, by Francisco Miguel, was with eight other prisoners, from the Fortress of Caxias in 1962, in the armored car that was a gift from Hitler to Salazar and was then used by the prison. He had the complicity of the prison driver and auto mechanic, a prisoner himself as it happens, who pretended to be on the side of the jailers, and who joined the escape. Links:
In 1972 and 1973 PIDE** hunted ARA relentlessly and put my photo, and the other two members of the Central Command, in newspapers and on television, offering a reward to anyone who helped find us. It was very unusual to spend ten solid years in hiding without being arrested. Living in hiding, giving the appearance of a normal life, was an art!

For safety reasons, I was only able to see my parents one time in those 10 years, in 1970, and my father Manuel died in 1972.

* Editor's note: Raimundo notes that registering a newborn child while underground was a tricky business, but it had to be done so the child would not be officially stateless and without parents. The story is told HERE (in Porguguese) (and HERE in English via Google Translate... Read the comments too.).
** PIDE = Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado, the Portuguese secret police under the Salazar regime.

25 April 1974 - The Carnation Revolution

During the night of 24-25 April 25, 1974, military forces from all over the country marched on Lisbon. The rebellion was led by mid-level officers — captains — who had organized the "Armed Forces Movement - MFA" and were sick of the colonial wars for which the government never sought a political solution. At each base, they arrested the commanders and came away with the troops who joined the rebellion. Days later on May 1, 1974, there were nationwide mass demonstrations in support of the overthrow of the regime, like these in Porto and Lisbon:

Demonstration in Porto May Day 1974
Demonstration in Lisbon May Day 1974
(See video of May Day 1974 demonstration in Lisbon:  https://youtu.be/cIN37JB6JMw)

1974-1988 - In the Central Committe of the PCP

Once the nightmare ended, Maria Machado and I went to work at PCP headquarters in Lisbon. My mother came came to live with us and died in 2000 at the age of 97 years. My sister lived with us sometimes too.

My daughter, Ilda Leonor (b.1969) graduated in Materials Engineering, has a master's degree, was a teacher. My son José (b.1974) was up for the first year of the University married and employed.

My niece Helena Mascarenhas received her doctorate in mathematics and is a professor at the University. She married Carlos Florentino, a professor at the University and they have two children, Michael (b.2003) and Bruno (b.2006).

In the PCP my activity throughout this period was mainly among military officers but also in foreign relations at international meetings and conferences that led me to many countries in Europe, including the Soviet Union, where I was awarded in 1965 by Chairman Mikoyan and in 1985 by General Secretary Gorbachev, as well as Cuba and some countries of Africa.

Maria Machado was responsible for several organizations within the PCP, abroad, and also worked in the party publishing office.

We had a salary equivalent to that of a skilled worker, the same as all employees from the Secretary-General to the cleaning lady. Later differentiated pay grades were adopted.

In June 1975 some of the captains who led the military uprising and joined the revolution directed mainly — but not only — by the PCP, were startled by the radicalization of the revolution. They sided with the right-wing military and had the support Socialist Party and right-wing parties and executed a military coup on 25 November 1975 that ended the revolution.

Raimundo at Tito's funeral 1980
Raimundo at Hitler's Wolf's Lair in Poland 1982
1. Raimundo with Álvaro Cunhal, Secretary General PCP in Belgrade May 1980 at Tito's funeral.  2. Raimundo in Ketrzyn, Poland, 1982 at Hitler's Wolf's Lair, 9 meters of solid reinforced concrete.
Raimundo in Moscow with interpreter 1982
Raimundo en Berlin 1986
Raimundo, 1985, at the University of Moscow with intpreter, and at a conference in Berlin, 1986.

In August and September of that year, far-right organizations with the support of of the Church heirarchy and some of the military, but not the majority of Catholics, unleashed terrorist actions, attacking and burning facilities of labor unions and the offices of the Communist Party and other left parties in the central and northern parts of the country.

1988 - 2017

From 1987 to 1990 I and other members of the Central Committee of the PCP tried in internal debates change the political orientation of the PCP and some internal rules that hindered freedom of discussion. In 1989 a PCP official fired me. After that I worked as an administrator and business manager, created an association for the defense of the environment and later a consulting firm. I also worked as Deputy Minister of Economy and finally, back in 2009/2010 as assistant to the Secretary of State that dealt with the police and other security forces.

Maria Machado decided to abandon the PCP some time after my departure. She was employed as a secretary in the offices of a labor union and then as secretary of the Transport and Communications Ministry, reformed in 2012.

In 1989 I and others organized a nationwide political movement, the National Institute of Social Studies and Public Debates (INES), with the participation of many of the most respected trade unionists and intellectuals in the country, including José Saramago, Nobel Prize winner in Literature. At a public meeting in Lisbon we launched the INES. In the photo, I am the 3rd from the left, and José Saramago is 5th.

Instituto de Estudos Socials 1990
Instituto de Estudos Socials 1989
INES launch meeting in Lisbon 1990.

1991 Plataforma de Esquerda
Raimundo center, António Guterres at right. Photo: Jornal Público 1992-02-06
In 1991 we created a political association, the Left Platform - PE (Plataforma de Esquerda), with over a thousand communists who had abandoned the PCP plus many other political activists of the left. In 1995 we made an electoral agreement between the EP and the Socialist Party, with António Guterres, then Secretary General of the PS and now Secretary-General of the United Nations. I and some others were elected Members of Parliament or President of the Chamber of Deputies. I was elected secretary of the Parliamentary Committee on National Defense and began to participate regularly in meetings of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, held twice a year in different member countries.

Raimundo in Parliament 1997
Raimundo in Parliament 1997
Raimundo in Parliament 1997
Raimundo in Parliament 1997
Fotos: Raimundo, as member of Parliament, in various military meetings and in Bosnia with Portuguese forces in 1997.

Raimundo Parliament Home Page
Screenshot of Parliament website in April 1999
In my time in Parliament I created a public website where I gave accounts of my activities to the voters. I was the only deputy with a public site like this. It recorded my speeches in Parliament, legislation that I was involved in, speeches at conferences, reports, and studies. It was hosted at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/9219/, but unfortunately in 2009 the Geocities platform was extinguished. There's a screen shot at right (see detail).

In 2008 I was one of the founders of an association for the defense of the heritage and memory of the struggle against fascism and the dictatorship that ruled Portugal 48 years, from 1926 to 1974. It is called "Movement to Not Erase the Memory - NAM". I was chairman of the board for three terms, 2008-2012 and 2014-2016. The NAM is the source of the new Museum Aljube in Lisbon, dedicated to the memory of resistance to dictatorship in whose Advisory Council I participate; Link: http://www.museudoaljube.pt/

Aljube Museum
Aljube Museum
The images show the Aljube Museum building and its opening with former president Mário Soares, former mayor of Lisbon and current 1st minister António Costa, former President of Parliament Jaime Gama, and Raimundo Narciso, president of the NAM direction.

The building dates from the Moorish occupation of Lisbon, in the centuries VIII to XII. It has undergone renovations over time and during the Salazar Government it was a political prison, with cells of 3x1.5 meters, without light, a horror, where the prisoners came to spend many months, isolated and without recreation or visits.

The NAM sponsors regular conferences, studies, visits and discussions, two of them on Parliament's premises and in the former Tarrafal concentration camp in the Cape Verde islands, a former Portuguese colony and current Republic of Cape Verde in Africa, which had the participation of President of the Republic of Cape Verde, Pedro Pires, and the former president of Portugal, Mário Soares, a supporter of NAM, he and his wife, Maria Barroso, now deceased.

NAM conference
NAM conference
NAM conference in Parliament in Lisbon (2008-10-29) on the colonial wars with representatives of Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and Cape Verde. Pictured left: Raimundo Narciso, Alberto Costa, then Justice Minister Jaime Gama President of the Parliament. Photo right: attendees.
NAM conference
NAM conference
Pedro Pires, President of the Republic of Cape Verde, delivers a speech at the meeting organized by the NAM in conjunction with the Presidency of the Republic of Cape Verde and Mário Soares Foundation (Lisbon), in memory of the prisoners of the Tarrafal concentration camp created by the dictator Salazar in 1936 for political prisoners inspired by the Nazi concentration camps and closed in 1956. It was reopened in 1961 for political prisoners in the Portuguese colonies during the war. At the discussion were former prisoners of the former Portuguese colonies and some survivors of the first period. Of the many achievements of NAM is a place for photographs at the site of the former political police headquarters, the PIDE, in central Lisbon. We held a large demonstration there, authorized by the "mayor" with the participation of some members of the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University and of old political prisoners who painted a gigantic mural commemorating the atrocities of the PIDE.

In the images below, from 2008, Raimundo and António Costa, "mayor" of Lisbon, unveiled a bronze plaque historical marker for the former headquarters of the PIDE.

NAM Conference mural
NAM Conference mural
NAM Conference
NAM Conference

Raimundo published four books, one of them a collection, plus studies and works primarily on national defense and the Portuguese armed forces and in particular on the military service, NATO, in specialized magazines like those of the Ministry of National Defense:


And at the Autonomous University of Lisbon:

Lisbon, 18/11/2017

Raimundo Narciso
Raimundo writes in March 2018:
I've been absorbed with the creation of the "RESISTANCE AND FREEDOM MUSEUM" in the Fortress of Peniche (attached pictures; the town of Peniche is 100km north of Lisbon on a peninsula that is almost an island). This was the site of the most famous, infamous, political prison of the fascist Salazar regime, which he called New State (1926-1974). It was a terrible place of torture, abuse, isolation, humiliation and also struggles, protests and heroic resistance. Among the former inmates of the prison at Peniche, my friends Manuel Rodrigues da Silva, arrested at 23, Francisco Miguel 22, Joseph Magro 20. Alvaro Cunhal in a small cell in complete isolation for eight years. They're all long dead. The Minister of Culture called me and invited me to join the Foundation Committee of the museum and I have been working on this with the other nine members of the Commission. Link https://tinyurl.com/ybf636qk).
Fortaleza de Peniche
Fortaleza de Peniche
Fortaleza de Peniche
Fortaleza de Peniche
Fortaleza de Peniche
Fortaleza de Peniche

Last update:  Wed Mar 21 13:10:45 2018 New York time