On the night of November 25-26, 1967, an unusual waterspout, which in some areas reached 170 liters per hour, plagued the greater Lisbon region, leaving a shrew of destruction… villages swept away by mud, thousands of houses destroyed, with special focus on the poorest areas and slums. The dictatorship sought to cover the dimensions of the tragedy and, officially, the numbers pointed to 462 dead, but may have reached 700.
The tragedy exposed the absence of social and urban planning and the complete lack of housing conditions of thousands of Portuguese. It exposed the misery, which the regime wanted to be covered up. In relief work, young people, groups of students, members of civil society, volunteers, who mobilized to clean up the wreckage, raise goods and funds to help the wounded and the displaced, vaccinate to prevent outbreaks of diseases. For many it was the awakening to the harsh reality and misery of the country and the mobile for political action.
Among the voices that then arose, again, against Salazar’s regime, there is Ribeiro Telles or Nuno Teotónio Pereira, who pointed to disordering as a direct cause of what happened. In the press, censorship acted with an iron hand, cutting, altering, giving order not to talk about deaths anymore. The essays received precise indications: smaller titles, less shocking images, not mentioning the activities of the students.
It is in this context that the “Student Solidarity” appears, a newspaper made by students who reported there what they saw on the site. One of the runs reached 10,000 copies. As usually happens, it was the poorest who suffered the most from the flood that plagued Lisbon. A flood that discovered, for many, these “invisible” society, an unknown and unimaginable misery.
Image: Images cut by censorship. Torre do Tombo.