Caxias Escape

04 December 2020

#Inthisday December 4, 1961, José Magro, Francisco Miguel, António Gervásio, Domingos Abrantes, Guilherme Costa Carvalho, Ilídio Esteves, Rolando Verdial and António Tereso, PCP leaders who were waiting in Caxias to be transfer to the Peniche Fortress, led one of the most memorable escapes from the regime’s prisons.

Taking advantage of the confidence that António Tereso, a mechanic, enjoyed with the prison guards, who thought they had “cracked” it, the plan of the escape outlined was the use of an armored car whose arrangement was entrusted to him. It wasn’t just any vehicle, but the 1937 Chrysler Imperial, which had been in Salazar’s service.

Tereso, behind the wheel of the armored car, reversed through the tunnel that connected the main courtyard (with access to the outside), where a dozen prisoners staged a fubebol game during the “playground”. When the car reached the inner courtyard, the prisoners surrounded the vehicle and, at the cry of «Golo!», entered the Chrysler, pulling at great speed through the tunnel and bursting the outer gate.

The official report of that day tells us the escape:
“On 4 December 1961, at 9:35 a.m., seven prisoners who were in the inner moat of the northern stronghold of Caxias Prison at recess, aided by another inmate in the work room of the same Fort (the room of the cracked), they carried out a spectacular and audacious escape, taking advantage with a rare sense of opportunity not only the material means available to them, but also the environment of trust that had been generalized around one of the evaded people whose freedom of movement within the Fort was practically unlimited and allowed him to take to the place of the beginning of the escape a car without arousing the slightest suspicion.”

Image: Chrysler Imperial, 1937, used in the escape. This car was in Salazar’s service.

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