Remember: First Major Race Riot in Portugal: 1976

LISBON, Oct. 7—Two men from Portugal’s former colony of the Cape Verde Islands were killed and a score of Cape Verdeans and Portuguese were wounded last night in this country’s first major race riot.

Some 130 Cape Verdeans involved in the clashes have been taken to the Santa Margarida airbase, near Abrantes, north of here, it was announced tonight. Representatives of the Cape Verde Embassy will go there tomorrow to decide what is to be done with them.

The violence occurred among workers at the wolfram—tungsten—mines of Panasqueira, in the Estrela Mountains, 18 miles west of Fundāo in central Portugal. The mines are owned by the Beralt Tin and Wolfram Company, which has British, American, South African and Portuguese capital.

“The problem was basically racial,” a company source said in a telephone interview today. “The Cape Verdeans and the Portuguese really despise each other, although there have been some mixed marriages here.”

Racial tensions have been building up in Portugal for 18 months with the influx of refugees from Lisbon’s former African colonies.

The Cape Verdeans, who are mostly racially mixed, often resented Portuguese workers, who generally had less education but better jobs.

There have always been minor troubles at the mines between the two groups. according to company sources.

The British general manager of the mines, Martin Watts, issued a brief account today of the fighting, which began at 1 A.M. According to his casualty list. there were two black Cape Verdeans dead, seven blacks and one white seriously injured, and seven whites and one black with minor injuries.

Eyewitnesses reported that the trouble began when a group of Cape Verdeans with knives invaded the single men’s quarters and began fighting the Portuguese workers. The Portuguese were held prisoner until dawn. Yesterday afternoon, the Portuguese retaliated with pitchforks, poles, axes and hunting rifles.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/1976/10/08/archives/2-killed-many-wounded-as-first-major-race-riot-breaks-out-in.html


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