For the record!

General Vasssalo e Silva

the last Portuguese Governor of Goa


Francisco Monteiro

 Francisco Monteiro


[Original submission in Portuguese - translated  into English by Gabriel de Figueiredo ]

[Entitled “Humble Portuguese”, A. Veronica Fernandes wrote an interesting article referring to two Portuguese notables who had to see to the administration of Goa, Damão & Diu.  I have to make a small observation with respect to the destruction of Angolan forests in the war against Angolan guerrillas.  I served in the Portuguese military in Angola between 1967 and 1969. During that time the forests were never bombarded with the intention of pursuing or capturing the guerrillas who were fighting for the independence of Angola; there was anti-guerrilla warfare (anti-personnel mines, anti-tank mines, ambushes, hand-to-hand combat etc.) with the support of the air-force in retaliation to ambushes, but chemical defoliants and other products to burn and destroy the forest were never used, as the Americans did in Vietnam.  On the contrary, I have to state, having inside knowledge, that the Portuguese Armed Forces contributed a lot to the development and improvement of the standard of living of the Angolan people, building roads, streets (paths), schools, health centers, toilets, etc. etc.; I personally took part in the construction of many of those works.]

With respect to General Vassalo e Silva, I have say that I agree completely and I add a few more details of the great work that he was doing in Goa, Damão & Diu and was interrupted by the invasion.  Ever since he took charge, if I am not mistaken, in 1958, General Vassalo e Silva pushed for the development of Goa, Damão & Diu.  Among the diverse measures and works accomplished with the support of the Lisbon government, the following deserve to be highlighted:

1.  The creation of a Cabinete de Estudo e Obras (Office for Assessment and Works) which was assigned to be under the direction of the then chief engineer Fangueiro; major works were planned in this office, like primary schools, homes for the poor, community halls, municipal markets and other related works.

2. In the educational field numerous new primary schools were built; existing ones were improved upon; numerous halls were hired for classes until the new schools were ready; various educational materials to equip the new schools were purchased  (desks, bags, blackboards, etc); never was so much invested in education in Goa.  Even more on the educational field, the “Externato Liceal D. Henrique” was created in the city of Vasco da Gama.  Private schools teaching English, Marathi, Urdu and Gujerati were provided support. The expansion and modernisation of the “Colégio António José Almeida” (known today as Almeida High School - Gdef) in Ponda and that of “Centro Promotor de Instrução” in Canacona were supported.  The creation of Arts, Science, Engineering and other faculties for various higher studies were being planned.  Aid was given to the creation of the modern Pius X Pastoral Institute alongside the St. Cajetan Convent in Old Goa.  

3.   An impressive plan to restore Old Goa, maintaining all its originality from a religious and monastic viewpoint, was under implementation. 

4. In the health field, a campaign against malaria was developed and maintained so much so that in 1960/61 malaria was eradicated from Goa; it is an irony that today after forty years of the highly proclaimed “liberation” of Goa, malaria is making a comeback with a great impetus and cause numerous deaths! Preventative as well as prophylactic campaigns against cholera, filaria and tuberculosis were progressed.  Significant support was given, in which the esteemed contribution of the miltary doctors, to improve the supply of services in Pangim, Ribandar, Margão, Mapuça, Damão & Diu, was outstanding. (Note: I was one of the beneficiaries of these miltary doctors in Pangim and Ribandar when I broke my collar bone as a five-year old - GdeF). 

5.   The water-supply services created even at the time of General Bernardo Guedes and installed by the Portuguese company “LUSO-DANA” worked efficiently and were being expanded to benefit the ever-growing population; what I remember is that there were never any cuts or rationing of water in Goa during the Portuguese adminstration; what has been going on today in Goa for a number of years is embarrassing; there is water only at determined hours in the day, being the benefits given by the Indian Union by “liberation” and the annexation of Goa. 

6.  Plans were already complete and discussions were under way for the total electrification of Goa, urbanization of the city of Pangim and the northern margin of River Mandovi and an important plan for basic sanitation and sewerage network of Pangim. 

7. In the area of communications, the construction of new highways and municipal roads and the improvement of the transport system were being studied.  The first phase of automatic telephone installation was being implemented with underground cables in Pangim.  Goa had a modern Radio Station - the well-known “Emissora de Goa” which transmitted programs in Portuguese, English, Konkani and Marathi; our radio station reached all the Goan emigrant communities spread around West Africa, Middle East, Persian Gulf and other areas; the “pacifist” Indian Union ordered the bombardment of the installation on the 18th December 1961!  What sort of radio station do we have now in Goa?  What is the quality of the programs that are being presented? Till where does the Goan voice reach?

8.    In the domain of road transport, measures to substitute the older buses (camionetas) by new and modern ones which were being purchased by firms such as MARLIM, PATRIA and others. 

9. In the water transport headed by SANI - Serviços Autónomos de Navegação da India - the shipyards at Betim were constructing ferry-boats for various crossings (Agaçaim-Cortalim, Pangim (Gujires-Betim), Old Goa-Divar and various other routes); a modern launch “Infante D. Henrique” was launched which was used for connections between D. Paula and Mormugão, and Pangim-Betim-Verem of Reis Magos.

10.  The Portuguese government had acquired an Anglo-Indian company, WIP; the Government of Goa was introducing a number of improvements in the transport of passengers, produce and ore; the Indian union, with  the invasion and annexation got WIP without having to pay a cent!

11.  The port at Mormugão benefited with better equipment through the exploration concessions of mineral ores of iron and manganese. 

12.  In 1954, due to blockades imposed by the Indian Union, the Portuguese Government assisted in providing (construction and outfitting) Goa, Damão & Diu with airports for civilian use.  Soon after the invasion and occupation, the airport at Dabolim (Goa) passed into the hands of the Indian Navy as a naval base with all the inconveniences and limitations to the development of Goa!  Goa would have been proud to have a modern, efficient and progressive air transport company known as TAIP - Transportes Aereos da India Portuguesa.

13.  It was General Vassalo e Silva who gave a big push to TAIP which already had at its disposal seven aircraft (2 Vikings, 2 Skymasters and 3 DC6B),which connected to the following: Goa-Damão-Diu-Karachi; Goa-Karachi-Beirut-Damascus-Lisbon; and Goa-Beira-Lourenço Marques; as always with the aim of serving our emigrants, new routes were being explored, namely, to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf; The number of passengers, cargo and mail transported wouldn’t stop growing.  With the invasion, Goa and Goans were left without their prestigious and modern air company - TAIP!

14.  With the collaboration of the Portuguese maritime company, CNN - Companhia Nacional de Navegação - connections between Goa-Damão-Diu and Karachi, Goa-Lisbon, and Goa-Moçambique were assured.  Some ships also served Goa, Macau and Timor.

15. In the agricultural field, it was General Vassalo e Silva who gave the initiative to recover the bunds and who gave support to the improvements in agriculture to increase the production of rice, fruit and vegetables.  Growing of corn had been started on an experimental basis.

16.  Initial steps were being taken to introduce high-quality milch cows to Goa imported from Pakistan. 

17.  Immense assistance was given to the development of the salt industry in Goa, Damão & Diu.

18.  The fishery industry was going to benefit from assistance provided by the government - notable of which was the construction of a maintenance port for trawlers.

19.  On the industrial side, the construction and the deployment of the first phase of the Naval Shipbuilders of Goa deserve to be highlighted, which were already repairing and maintaining the barges of some mining concessions. 

20.  The iron and manganese ore mining concessions had the great support from the government in exploiting the mines; on the other hand, we have to make note of the small tax that the concessionaires paid in relation to the profits that they made.  The tax paid was very small, almost insignificant - 1%;  with a little greater tax, the government could have obtained funding to start bigger undertakings.  Still with respect to this industry, we have to say that help and incentives were given to small industries (manufacturers of rain and sun hats, tube and tyre repairers, cold drinks, roof-tiles, glazed-tiles, building of vehicle bodies, canning of fish and meat, roasting and packaging of cashew nuts, cakes, fruit preserves, matches, etc.)

21.  Finally, tourism, where the first measures like the creation of Center of Information and Tourism, which assisted and gave incentives to the building of rest-houses, the first of which was inaugurated in the beautiful and picturesque village of Nagoa in Salcette (“Pousada Mourão”); the assistance provided for constructing esplanades and pergolas; the restoration of horse-carriages in the city of Pangim, the publication of posters and other publicity material to advertise the natural beauty, the monuments, the epicure and the folklore of Goa, Damão & Diu. 

Finally we have to stress that General Vasssalo e Silva received all people who wished to contact him with their problems and complaints, with simplicity. General Vasssalo e Silva used to go to all the districts, to all places however distant in Goa, Damão or Diu to personally determine the problems and necessities of the populace. 

It is but basic justice to record and praise the great work done by General Vasssalo e Silva; work of great scope that would have given Goa, Damão & Diu new opportunities and development that would have certainly made the independence of Goa, Damão & Diu possible in a few years; this wish dreamed of by a great majority of Goans, Damaenses and Diuenses was not possible because the Indian Union, by the hand of its Prime Minister, a “protector” of “peace” ordered the invasion, occupation and annexation, with no respect to International Law and the Resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nations, which approved and declared that Goa, Damão & Diu with all its dependencies (Tiracol, Angediva, Dadra, Nagar-Haveli, Gogola and Simbor) were non-autonomous territories administered by Portugal, and that its political statutes could only be altered by peaceful means with consultation and supervised by United Nations, i.e. only the Goans, Damanenses and Diuenses could live freely without any pressure from the Indian Union or of Portugal to say in relation to its political statutes.

Francisco Monteiro June 4, 2002

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