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
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.
1946 Prof. Ilda, Vilar, elementary school Casa do Povo,
Raimundo is 5th from the left, first row.
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
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
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.
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
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 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.
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 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
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.
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.
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:
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
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, 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.
INES launch meeting in Lisbon 1990.
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 center, António Guterres at right.
Photo: Jornal Público 1992-02-06
Fotos: Raimundo, as member of Parliament, in various military
meetings and in Bosnia with Portuguese forces in 1997.
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
|Screenshot of Parliament website in April 1999
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:
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 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.
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.
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:
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
|Fortaleza de Peniche
|Fortaleza de Peniche
|Fortaleza de Peniche
Wed Mar 21 13:10:45 2018
New York time