Fernando Alcobia

(Lisbon, 15-02-1914 – Tarrafal, Santiago Island, Cape Verde, 19-12-1939)

Fernando Alcobia, son of Julia Alcobia and an unknown father, was born in Lisbon, where he resided and worked as a newspaper salesman. A militant of the Federation of Portuguese Communist Youth and the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP), he was in charge of Agitation and Propaganda.

During the preparation for the week of the fight against hunger, war and fascism, which was to take place between 25 February and 2 March 1935, he posted political propaganda in Alfama. On 10 June 1935, during the National Work Parade, he joined the group that, in Serra de Monsanto, tried unsuccessfully to release red balloons with the image of the hammer and sickle. A few days later, when he participated in the distribution of manifestos in Lisbon, he escaped prison, following the intervention of José Machado Pinto who had shot a police officer. Now a wanted man, Alcobia took refuge in Spain, where the Civil Guard arrested him for being undocumented and handed him over to the Fiscal Guard of Elvas. On 3 December 1935, he was handed over to the Political and Social Section of the Surveillance and State Defence Police (PVDE) and, on the 27th of that month, he was sent to the Prison of Peniche. Throughout the year of 1936, he passed through several police stations and the prisons of Peniche and Aljube, several times. In August 1936, he was accused of attempting to escape from the Prison of Aljube by opening a hole in the wall of a bathroom.

In October, he was transferred to the Concentration Camp of Tarrafal, in Cape Verde, as part of the first group of political prisoners who were sent there. In Tarrafal, the constant abuse and the passage through solitary confinement in the so-called “frying pan” – the last with a duration of twenty days – deteriorated his health. Weakened by an abscess in his ear, he was forced to work on the so-called “Brave Brigade”, a form of forced labour for sick prisoners. Without any medical treatment, Fernando Alcobia fell ill with “blackwater fever” on 15 December 1939 and died a few days later. He was 25 years old.

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