Thursday, July 22, 2010

Portuguese Border Jumpers

The poor economic and social conditions in Portugal for 60 years (poverty, Colonial War, subsistence farming), led to the emigration (often illegal) of more than 60 percent of the population of the county of Sambucus. 
Smugglers Ti John Rite of Soito with the Basque beret on his head, and Joao Pereira (in Soito known as John Russo)
They called it "over the border jumping", ie without a passport (incidentally, issue of passports was practically always rejected by the regime to almost all workers who applied for one).
There were the '
Indians' and the 'smugglers'. The 'Indians' were those who tried to emigrate and the 'smugglers' the Portuguese or Spanish locals who helped them across the border, in return for a fee.

When someone was caught he had committed the crime of illegal immigration. In the photograph we see a group of emigrants, from Soito who wished to emigrate to France in the early '60s.
Persecuted by the Guardia Civil in Spain, arrested and taken to prison, where a police officer took this picture (later offered to one of the emigrants).
Those with the beret are the '
smugglers', Spanish, in this case. The rest are all from Soito.
This time their attempts failed. All of them tried again and succeeded. 


  1. Hello,

    I am very surprised and pleased to find those pictures in your blog. As a matter of fact, the man with the beret in the first picture is my oncle. The car belonged to my father and his brothers. Moreover, I recognise all portuguese people on the second picture.

    Where did you find them? Could you tell me pleased?

    Thank you for your reply. Manuel RITO (

  2. Dear Manuel,

    Thank you for your comments. I am presently on holidays, but shall get back to you by mid-January.

    Cheers, Daan