A short biography of Francisco Quintal, Portuguese anarchist militant, skipper and one of founders of the Federacion Anarquista Iberica
Francisco Nobrega Do Quintal was born on August 24th at Funchal on the Isle of Madeira. Born into a well-off family, he moved with them to Lisbon at the age of fourteen with the declaration of the Republic in 1910.He finished his studies at the Nautical School in Lisbon. He discovered anarchism at the age of fifteen by reading literature by the French anarchist-communist Jean Grave. He started attending meetings of the Libertarian Youth.
This led on to participation in various anarchist groups from 1921 onwards, including Novos Horizontes (New Horizons) which he helped found in January 1921 and Grupo Anarquista Claridade (Clarity Anarchist Group). As secretary of Novos Horizontes he was responsible for making contact with other Portuguese libertarian groups-Libertarian Naturist, The Friends, Free Earth, The earth, The Friends of Good and Freedom etc. and in pushing for an Anarchist Conference at Alenquer held on 18th March 1923 attended by 45 delegates, representing a dozen groups and individuals. As a result a national anarchist organisation, União Anarquista Portuguesa -the Portuguese Anarchist Union (UAP) -was founded, and Quintal became its general secretary.
He founded O Anarquista (The Anarchist) the newspaper of the UAP with Fernando de Almeida Marques in 1925 and became its coordinator. At least 9 issues of the paper appeared during 1926 with the first issue coming out on February 28th.
Attempts had already been made by Portuguese anarchists, above all by Manuel Joaquim da Sousa, to coordinate on a peninsular level with their Spanish comrades with a projected Iberian Syndicalist Federation which was still born. However cooperation continued with a new process beginning in 1923 which according to Quintal ”would serve as an example for the syndicalist organisations of the two countries and help bring about an Iberian Confederation of Workers”. The move by Quintal and other Portuguese anarchists to set up an Iberian Anarchist Federation was stalled by the military coup on May 28th 1926 which led to the establishment of the Salazar regime.
The Spanish Committee of Anarchist Relations drew up a provisional agenda for a forthcoming conference and this eventually took place on 24-25 July 1927 in Valencia. As well as delegates from Levante, Andalucía, Catalonia, Castile and Madrid the Secretariat of Relations of the National Federation of Anarchist Groups and the Catalan and Levante Regional Confederations attended. The UAP was represented by Quintal and Germinal da Sousa, the son of Manuel Joaquim. This conference led to the founding of the Federacion Anarquista Iberica (Iberian Anarchist Federation -FAI)
Quintal now came to be seen as the leader of the Portuguese anarchist movement and he was arrested in 1928 and deported without trial to the Portuguese colony of Angola. He managed to escape and returned to Europe in 1929. He took part in underground work in the Libertarian Alliance from 1931 to 1932 and then in the Anarchist Federation of the Portuguese Region (FARP) and had a big input into the underground anarchist press O Argonauta (The Argonaut) A Batalha (The Struggle) A Communa (The Commune) etc. He translated several anarchist texts into Portuguese, including Les Syndicats et la Révolution Sociale (The Unions and The Social Revolution) by the French anarcho-syndicalist Pierre Besnard.
During the Salazar dictatorship he was arrested and imprisoned on many occasions. His career as a naval captain in the merchant navy enabled him to establish contact with anarchists from several countries. He established a relationship with another anarchist, Miquelina Sardinha, herself the daughter of an anarchist carpenter, and they started a family.
After the death of Miquelina in October 1966 Quintal established a new relationship with Irena Franco.
With the fall of the dictatorship on April 25th 1974, Francisco Quintal founded the anarchist paper A Voz Anarquista (The Anarchist Voice) at Almada, together with other anarchists including Adriano Botelho. This was the monthly paper of the Portuguese Anarchist Federation and Quintal was its coordinator until 1983. He also helped set up the Centre of Libertarian Culture at Almada from 1974. He contributed under the pseudonym Meridional to the newspaper Republica and wrote a four volume history of Portuguese anarchism. He continued to translate various articles into Portuguese.
He died of a heart attack on 4th February 1987 at Lisbon. The book Palavras Veementes (Vehement Words) appeared a year after his death, gathering together several of his texts and articles.