A Look at the Portuguese World



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The fifth exportation of madeira

Written by  yvette vieira fts cecília vieira

Door 33 held a historic meeting between the founders of the weekly "Comércio do Funchal" (CF), one of the mythical newspapers from the fascist period in Portugal, from 1967 until 1975, where they recalled the genesis of this irreverent editorial project.

We flowed placidly over the year 1967 in a lost island somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic when an unlike meeting occur between Artur Andrade, casino counter bassist, John Carlos da Veiga Pestana, owner and director of the publication "Comércio do Funchal" and a group of young advertisers from the agency "Focus" Vicente Jorge Silva, José Manuel Barroso, Vitor Rosado and the young medical student, Ricardo França Jardim who decided on an conversation over coffee to create a different newspaper that no one has ever seen before... For this purpose they rented a space for 900 escudos a month that becomes the seat of a very young newsroom, the vast majority in their 20s, who decides to write about whatever they felt like it, as recalls José Manuel Barroso, "from football at that time was not done, cinema, economy, culture, national and international politics, as we were few invent a series of pseudonyms to fill any gaps that could arise there". Then, there was the problem of the name of the newspaper, because as reminds Vicente Jorge Silva, "the project we liked to do did not aimed the city's trade. A friend of ours, o Louro, remembered there was an Azorean newspaper that was printed on salmon and then we felt that the color of the paper would also be important to distinguish the newspaper, what happens was that in Funchal there was no paper in that tone and the only available was pink and it was so, this new role become a key instrument of the newspaper ". Vitor Rosado, yet adds another version "if I remember correctly, at the time it was important the color and how it could not be red, for various reasons, the color pink was timely and we will just say that."

Exceeded all small regular initial constraints of a very young publishing project, the "Comércio do Funchal" starts with their first impressions of about 4000 copies at a cost of 5 escudos with no room for a potential distribution at national level, due to the high cost price of cover reaching 50%. Fate, however, favors the bold and thanks to its editorial bias increasingly left without being leftist, that voice of the difference exceeded the natural barriers of the island and reached the hands of university students and young military eager for information, that now represent a universe of 11,000 subscribers, thus making the CF the fifth largest export of Madeira, preceded by emigration, bananas, embroidery and Madeira wine. Throughout its various editions the political positions towards left were radicalizing without the newspaper ever assuming the role of an effective spokesman for any group that already existed in Portugal's Salazar dictatorship. Barroso recalls, "Comércio existed because it was here, it could not had happened on the mainland an experience like this. We had fun with that game of cat and mouse with the censors. This matter of local proximity and the fact that we are far away left us out of some political struggles of Lisbon, we were left wing, but we were not lefties and although they tried we always resisted, we maintained our independence and irreverence towards all "


In fact, and contrary to what one might think the CF was a legal source of information, as it passed through the sieve of local censorship, which in some ways was more lenient on the island, Funchal at the time was a village where everyone knew each other and greet it and this insularity benefited in the long run the newspaper. Each page represents a battlefield of words and phrases, that where renegotiated with some cutting criteria between Vincente Jorge Silva and the censor itself, but it also need to take into account, as he states, "there was a relationship with the censorship that was not the same of Mercy Street. When a newspaper in Lisbon would send their texts for censorship to be seen by a censor, no one knew who they were, in Madeira we knew him, was only one and that's one of the things that made the CF in its phase start-up and even after a while obtain a degree of affirmation. "

Over its eight years of existence the newspaper was shut down at least three
different occasions, the first of which took place in May 1968. In Portugal, Salazar fall off the chair, in the so called marcelista, in France took place a student revolution that would change the world and that was reported by the newspaper because it had passed through the sieve the local censor. When the first copies of the CF arrive in Lisbon, the censorship did not wait and immediately suspends the weekly. An interruption immediately refuted by the journalists next to the regional deputies in the name of autonomy and that ended up creating an unprecedented burocratic incident between the different national political authorities of the time, a bizarre scenario only possible in this hegemony fascist, because at the time the "Comércio" as Barroso underlines was "the ideal spokesperson of self-government that crossed with the history of Madeira, were anxieties and desires of the population, because it was and remains a peripheral region. This made us bridges to a certain wing of the regime, especially marcelista, speaking as their voice. We had an excellent relationship with the chairman of the general board, with the mayor and members of the regime, there was communication, "Comércio do Funchal" said what they want to say and could not for obvious reasons. Autonomy were in the early stages, something that was later tapped by the regional right party, in this case the PSD, because the left did not know how to take that flag at the time. "

It is still curious the different readings that the newspaper had throughout their short editorial story. The islanders viewed the CF as the voice of regional autonomy and to the mainland readers that same autonomic nature passed completely aside the majority of them, because what mattered to 2/3 of its young audience were the articles on international and national subjects, the discussions between the reformists and not reformists and even the analysis of some eletorais acts. The second and third closings eventually trigger in the years 1972 and 1973 that the page proof was done in Lisbon, which was a hellish process, according to Ricardo França Jardim, because there was no communication systems, "we took the newspaper to the plane, which was then dispatched to the Restorers and when everything was ready, my wife who was a civil servant at the time took the page proof back to the airport and asked some of the passengers who boarded to Madeira that take the pages. There were once so many delays that we printed a newspaper with only four pages and on the second page there was a very large ball and curiously the censorship was troubled" . The revolution of April 25th, 1974, marked the arrival of democracy to Portugal and ironically the end of the newspaper, for good reasons, to Vicente Jorge Silva, "the CF had exhausted its function. The newspaper represented the plurality of the left " that after the revolution becomes the freedom of everything and everyone and allows among other things to found freely newspapers and the rest belongs to the froth of history.

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