Comunidade newspaper, 1975-1979. Part 1: Records and commentary

Comunidade's Marxist rhetoric concerned Canadian authorities, who thought it appropriate to keep a close eye on its activities. The Ethnic Press Analysis Service of the Canadian Citizenship Branch, Department of the Secretary of State, monitored the contents of newspaper and the activities of its members. For Barbara Wilgress, the researcher in charge of surveilling the Portuguese-Canadian press, there was little doubt that the Portuguese Development Committee and Comunidade was created "for developing political awareness of specifically Marxist character in the Portuguese community of Toronto"*

The following is an excerpt from the November 1977 report prepared by the Ethnic Press Analysis Service on the the Spanish and Portuguese press in Canada, focusing on the article posted here:

"The article in ‘Communidade’ stated that the Portuguese Canadian Democratic Association, established in Toronto “for many years” took the initiative in commemorating Oct. 5, the anniversary of the overthrow of the Portuguese monarchy in 1910. The Association invited two special guests, Miguel Urbano Rodrigues, whom it described as “editor of ‘O Diario’, the leading newspaper of the working class” and “for the second time, by coincidence in the same room in the Faculty of Education, the journalist, Jose Jorge Letria…who enthused the large audience with his avant-garde revolutionary songs”. Osvaldo Santos, producer of the TV program ‘Tempo Portugues’, the article continued, read a letter from General Vasco Goncalves which expressed support for all of the ‘progressive forces’ which are struggling for the ‘good of the people’, to eliminate reasons for emigrating etc. etc. General Goncalves also sent one of his books to the Portuguese-Canadian Democratic Assocation.

The TV producer presented a prize to “O Diario’ for ‘defending the interests of the workers’ and plaques to each of the visitors. The meeting ended with the singing of our (?) national anthem.

This article in Comunidade may indicate that the paper is slipping back into its old communist traces..."**

* National Archives of Canada, Box 80 File 3258-202/P2 Analisis [sic] of the Contents of the new Portuguese Newspaper, "Comunidade"

** Ibid., Box 80 File 3258-202/P2 Multiculturalism-Ethnic Press-Questionnaires-Portuguese

The Ethnic Press Analysis Service of the Canadian Citizenship Branch, Department of the Secretary of State, commented on an interview published in Comunidade in November-December 1977, featuring the Portuguese soccer coach, Joaquim Meirim. According to the researcher, Joaquim Meirim was a communist who was visiting Toronto under the sponsorship of the Portuguese Canadian Democratic Association, with the purpose of organizing the community's soccer clubs into centers for the political "orientation" of young immigrants.*

* National Archives of Canada, Box 127 File 3260-P2-1 Vol. 2

In another report prepared by the Federal Government's Ethnic Press Analysis Services, titled "Communist and Marxist Propaganda in the Portuguese Press", the researcher commented on an opinion piece about the post-revolutionary political situation in Portugal. The article had been written by historian and University of Toronto Professor David Raby and was published in Comunidade on February 28, 1978.

"Comunidade continues to include articles this month indicating a Marxist orientation. The article by David Raby was published in English... It gives an incredibly simplistic, economically unsound and inexact interpretation of the inefficacy of the Soares government and the country's economic problems. Mr. Raby's bias in favour of populist solution and his whitewash of 'Otelo' and the groups further left than the Portuguese communist party are very misleading. Most unfortunately, also, he poses as an expert observer since he was resident in Portugal for 10 months."*

* National Archives of Canada, Box 127 File 3260-P2-1 Vol. 2

In the same report, the researcher commented on another article in the same issue of Comunidade, which covered community plays performed in the hall of the Portuguese Canadian Democratic Association of Toronto by a group of young amateur Portuguese actors from Montreal.

"The plays were described as "realistic and popular" and "demystifying and educational." The first one, entitled "The Force of the People" was written by Manuel Giro who, the article says, "was an immigrant in Canada for 5 years and then returned to Portugal after the April 25th revolution. His play," the article continues is a "social and political reading of the new Portugal…with three important themes: the significance of the colonial wars, the struggle for social justice on the land (agrarian reform) and the need for women to participate along with men in the economic, political and social struggle." The second play, "The Quack Healer’s Car" written "by the people’s poet, Antonio Alexio” the article says, “is extraordinarily significant in its description of the exploration of the miseries and sickness of the Portuguese people which keep it in ignorance." The article concluded with these words: “In our opinion the Portuguese theatrical troup from Montreal deserves to be praised and encouraged for its initiative in bringing realistic theatre to our people. (the technical deficiencies of the acting) can be excused because the enthusiasm of a group of amateurs and their very correct choice of texts are more important than anything else.” Those who are aware of the political orientation of ‘Comunidade’ may wonder why this paper is supported by the Secretary of State advertisement. The full page multicultural ad, "unity in diversity" appeared in the Feb 25 issue."*

* National Archives of Canada, Box 127 File 3260-P2-1 Vol. 2
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