Parem as Máquinas!
«Parem as Máquinas!» by Gonçalo Pereira Rosa, reviews some of the most extraordinary, unusual adventures in the history of Portuguese Journalism.
A single work, "Parem as Máquinas!" is a lively and entertaining tribute to Portuguese newspapers and journalists. Through the episodes narrated by Gonçalo Pereira Rosa are reminded reporters as Ferreira de Castro, Acúrcio Pereira, Reinaldo Ferreira, Urbano Tavares Rodrigues, Eduardo Gageiro, Norberto Lopes and Urban Carrasco
The volcano, the flag and the reporter
The red and the green contrast with the clouds; the Portuguese flag waves in the sky. The flagpole is in the hands of one man: Urbano Carrasco
“The reporter of Diário Popular was the first person to land on the island of the volcano, where he implanted the Portuguese flag."
The drawing by Stuart Carvalhais, published on the 13th of October, 1957 on the cover of Diário Popular, illustrates one of the most peculiar episodes of Portuguese Journalism.
In September 1957, a volcano shows activity near Capelo, in Faial, Azores.
As the population leaves, the press arrives...
The inhabitants are evacuated from the scene of destruction; the same scenario that attracts many national and foreign reporters.
Urbano Carrasco, reporter of Diário Popular, is one of the journalists sent to cover this natural disaster.
Born an idea
In early October, his coverage makes headlines in the evening newspaper from Lisbon.
From Horta, the reporter makes daily phone calls to the newsroom with information about the situation in the Azores, before the edition closed.
"Everything is now black as if it had been painted by pistol with more black tar [...] I am unable to explain in all its tragic grandeur this sudden mutation," he writes.
The journalist baptises the new volcanic formation as «Ilha do Desespero» [“Island of Despair”].
Information changes: if, on the 9th, the report is optimistic, on the 10th of October, he refers that the explosions are increasing in intensity.
The scientific mission organises a visit to the island.
Journalists do not want to miss it, despite the dangers such as "water vapour expelled over a hundred degrees that would be able to boil a human being, the side jets of the volcano and the emission of gases.”
While he is waiting for favourable navigability conditions, Carrasco is informed about the history of the island Sabrina, also formed from a volcanic eruption in 1811.
The volcano activity captures the attention of an imperial ship's crew and they approach the island and stick the Union Jack on the ground, claiming the territory.
Despite the islander having submerged less than a year later, the episode left a deep wound in the national pride.
An idea takes shape in Urbano Carrasco’s mind.
Towards «Ilha do Desespero» [“Island of Despair”]
The project gains even more strength after the reporter navigates with other journalists near the newly formed island and they are faced with an impressive scenario.
Journalist feels the obligation of reporting what they saw.
The goal is clear: to set foot on «Ilha do Desespero» [“Island of Despair”].
“For me it’s a real obsession and I did, from the first hour, everything that was possible to get a boat”.
His search for volunteers is proved fruitless. Only Carlos Tudela, RTP camera man, accepts to join the adventure
The boat Quo Vadis departs with the two journalists on board, facing a "terrible rain of ashes and mud", which ruins Carrasco’s camera and damages the boat engine.
“I prayed to God and swore. We were rowing slowly when the other boat - also with a damaged engine– passed through us. But in that boat there were four people on board, one of whom had been a fisherman for ten years. They knew how to row...”.
On board was Carlos Peixoto from Faial, who believes that a Paris-Match magazine reporter is aboard Quo Vadis.
Fearing a new humiliation by the hands of foreigners, similar to what happened with Sabrina, he makes his way to the islander, with Joseph Ilharco, from Diário de Notícias, and two locals.
Quo Vadis arrives first.
The waves throw the two adventurers to the island. They carried a flag
Urbano Carrasco runs to a high point where the waters do not reach, and sticks the Portuguese symbol on the ground.
“You can call me ridiculous, if you want to, but, although I know that I didn’t do anything heroic, I admit my excitement when I struggled to stick the flag of Portugal in the black sand of the volcano," he reports.
The adventure does not end here. The reporteres’ boat is stranded.
Manuel Duarte, one of the Azorean man who travels in the rival boat, helps the journalists.
“It was because of him that we could leave the island, where our audacity - and the total lack of knowledge about naval techniques – had led us,” writes Carrasco.
Other journalists follow his footsteps, but they get stuck in the mud at several hundred meters of the volcano, without visibility to capture images.
“By a whim of fate, perhaps only the French reporter from Paris Match, installed in the lighthouse, obtained good images of this adventure that puts an end to my reports about the Azores volcano,” concludes Carrasco.
De aventura a lenda
The news of his achievement reaches the island.
“The island is no longer just black. The island received its first colours: green and red,” announces the journalist João Afonso, at the microphone of Radio Clube de Angra.
Diário Popular attributes a legendary status to reporter’s achievement.
Without images, Stuart Carvalhais recreates – with some creativity – the adventure.
The newspaper’s cover becomes one the most famous story of the publication.
But "the contemplation of the impressive spectacle has become a commonplace,” writes Carrasco.
Gradually, the volcano stops being on the news.
On the18th of October, the reporter leaves the media coverage of the case.
The symbol of his adventure is left behind.
“Perhaps the island is short-lived, but if it dies, during its life by the Portuguese land, it will have our glorious flag on it ,” says the journalist.
The legend survives the object.
On the night of the 29th through the morning of the 30th October, «Ilha do Desespero» [“Island of Despair”] is swallowed by the sea.
With it, it takes the national colours that, for a few days, had turned the reporter into news.