2nd Civil Engineer of Portugal
Virgínia Moura was born in S. Martinho do Conde, Guimarães, on 19 July 1915. She was the daughter of a single mother, a stigma which influenced her life and helped shape her precocious revolutionary nature.
She was only fifteen when she took part in a youth protest strike, in Póvoa de Varzim, against the murder of a young student called Branco by the police forces.
Three years after this episode, she came into contact with the Portuguese Communist Party by joining the Socorro Vermelho organization (supporting the Portuguese and Spanish political prisoners). There she met her lifetime companion, António Lobão Vital, who was an Architecture student at the time. They lived together for 42 years, until he died. They never had any children, although they very much wanted to.
Virgínia Moura was one of the first women in Portugal to get a degree in Civil Engineering, which she attended at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (1943-1948). However, she was never able to be a civil servant. The authorities never forgot the fact that she was a renowned anti-fascist activist. Further to Engineering, she also got a degree in Mathematics, in Coimbra, and Arts, in Porto.
During the 40s and 50s in Porto, she was involved in many cultural activities. Under the fictitious name of Maria Selma, she collaborated in many periodic journals, promoted the Sol Nascente Magazine and organized conferences attended by intellectuals, such as Teixeira de Pascoaes, Maria Lamas and Maria Isabel Aboim Inglês.
Before 25 April 1974, she participated actively in pro-democratic movements, participating and engaging in the rally in support of Norton the Matos who was running for Presidency, in Fonte da Moura, 1949; she was tried for treason to the homeland in 1951, for signing a declaration demanding Salazar to negotiate with the Indian government on Goa, Damão and Diu affairs; she was linked to the candidature of Humberto Delgado, to the student movements in 1962 and to the congresses held by the democratic opposition in Aveiro (1969 and 1973); she was arrested sixteen times by the PIDE (Portuguese Secret Services), from 1949 on, and was accused nine times, condemned three times and repeatedly attacked by the police during public events. After the 1974 Revolution, she continued her political activity as a member of the Portuguese Communist Party.
Throughout her political and civic life, she also joined the Anti-Fascist Unity Movement, the Democratic Youth Unity Movement, the National Council of Portuguese Women and the National Democratic Movement.
After 25 April 1974, she was publically acknowledged for her involvement in civic activities. She was awarded the Order of Freedom Medal and the Medal of Honour from the Porto City Hall during the term of office of Fernando Cabral, and from the Democratic Women’s Movement.
In 1998, at the age of 82, she visited Cuba for the first and last time. A short time later, on 19 April, she died in Porto.
Her funeral was attended by thousands of people. She was known by the opponents of Salazar and Marcelo Caetano as the "Passionária Portuguesa" (Portuguese Passionate Woman): Among those present at her funeral was the Secretary-General of the Portuguese Communist Party at the time, Carlos Carvalhas, and the leader of the Democratic Intervention Group, Raul de Castro, her lifelong friend, both of whom paid her a last tribute.
(Universidade Digital / Gestão de Informação, 2009)