Both Reconquista and Clube Étnico Portuguez will be added to GPAHE’s report on far-right hate and extremist groups in Portugal
This past summer, two new far-right groups popped up in Portugal, Reconquista and Clube Étnico Portuguez. They are even more radical than other Portuguese groups, such as the main far-right political party Chega, that GPAHE has profiled on the far right, embracing racist conspiracy theories, white nationalism, and an open hatred of people of color. The organizations work together on protests, have links to Chega, and spread hateful propaganda.
Focused on “taking back” Portugal from the ethnically non-Portuguese and expelling foreigners is the new protest group, Reconquista (Reconquest). In Iberian history, the term Reconquista refers to the centuries-long effort to expel the Moors, who ruled the region for 800 years until they were finally defeated in 1492. Its first appearance was in June 2023 when the group’s leaders, Afonso Gonçalves, and Alexander Gazur, went to Evora to “invade and interrupt in a very aggressive way” the city’s yearly Pride Month event, “Pride dos pequeninos” (Pride of the little ones).
Gonçalves attempted to disrupt the event for 10 to 15 minutes, shouting from a loudspeaker, but a wall of police and Pride participants stopped him. Only “three to five” people gathered for the protest, but due to media coverage, his actions caught the eye of online supporters of the far-right political party Chega (Enough!), some of whom had harassed members of Evora Pride Month earlier in the week, and who expressed support for his actions. The new group produced a list of supporters and created Reconquista as a movement.
By July 4, Gonçalves’ protest movement had momentum. His next demonstration, held under the slogan of “Não há Portugal B” (There is no Portugal B), a twist on the environmentalist slogan “there is no planet B,” at Praça Martim Moniz in Lisbon. On July 29, Reconquista gathered again at the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (Service of Foreigners and Border, or SEF) office to protest its plans to regularize around 170,000 immigrants, who had been waiting in legal limbo to renew their residencies due to the pandemic. The plan did not entail bringing more immigrants into Portugal, but rather regularized those already in the country. That didn’t stop the new group from gathering in front of an empty SEF office in Lisbon to protest what they consider evidence of the “substitution of the population,” a phrase echoing the white nationalist “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory.
Gonçalves is a white supremacist and misogynist who fashions himself as an authoritarian leader. He revels in descriptions of himself as “transphobic,” and proudly accepts the characterization that he is “ultranationalist, racist, and xenophobic.” Gonçalves is particularly known for his misogyny, posting bizarre rants about women’s right to vote, casual sex, and women sitting in public. He refers to women as “whores” and “cockroaches.” He has argued that women who get divorced should “not be entitled to receive money/goods” from their husbands and should be mandated to “pay for damages caused to the family.” He says abortions are a “crime against humanity” and has called for women who have the procedure to receive the death penalty. For Gonçalves, “non-traditional families” are an “aberration,” “80% of all divorces are initiated by women” and people of African descent are creating a “population replacement” of people of “native” European descent. He has argued that “African American men are 12x more likely to commit murder than white men.” His bigotry is so extreme that even Elon Musk’s Twitter, known for being lenient towards hateful accounts, permanently suspended both his main and backup accounts, in one instance for “abusive behavior.”
The other founding member is far-right YouTuber Alexander Lima Gazur, a co-organizer and promoter of Reconquista protests. He is also a member of Chega and served as a delegate to the 5th National Convention from his native Viseu. Gazur is known for his antisemitism, pointing to “Jewish control” of the world. In response to the release of GPAHE’s Portugal country report, Gazur accused GPAHE of being “funded by [liberal philanthropist] George Soros,” a common antisemitic and conspiracist trope. Gazur is known for crude, racist comments. In response to a video on Twitter about the politicians Katar Moreira and Ossanda Liber, both of whom are of African descent, Gazur responded with a tweet saying that they were “both the same,” and an image of a Doge dog holding a bushel of cotton saying that they had “dropped this,” while using the n-word. Gazur believes that there is an ongoing “population substitution” of the Portuguese people, a reference to the “Great Replacement” conspiracy theory, and has argued that “deportation of all immigrants” who use the health service “for free” would solve “90% of all [the system’s] problems.” He has called for young people who participate in Pride events to be “arrested by the state.” On his Telegram channel, he regularly shares posts from American, Holocaust-denying white supremacist Nick Fuentes and neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin. After having his account restored once Elon Musk took over Twitter, Gazur’s account was again suspended.
Reconquista has a close, but sometimes contentious, relationship with Chega Juventude (Chega Youth). On the one hand, Chega Youth leaders have shown support for the new movement, such as Coimbra Chega Youth leader João Antunes who tweeted a picture posing with Gonçalves with the text “Rebuild Portugal #Reconquista.” Porto Chega Youth leader Francisco Araújo used his Telegram channel to promote their upcoming congress and convince his audience to buy tickets for the event. Other Chega Youth figures have participated in YouTube events with Gonçalves. At the same time, some Chega Youth members have been put off by Gazur’s and Gonçalves’ misogyny. João Antunes, who regularly defends the alleged human trafficker Andrew Tate, wrote in response to a video posted by Gazur of a video game character continuously beating a female character that “this does not represent my kind of right-wing.” Antunes also at one point felt obliged to defend women after Gonçalves stated that a “woman who does not arrive at marriage a virgin has no value as a wife.” Braga leader Joana Pinto Azevedo publicly denounced Gonçalves for his comments saying that “women should not have social networks/vote.”
The majority of Reconquista adherents are white males of Portuguese descent. Participants that could be identified by GPAHE from their Telegram channels are Nita, a “tradwife” who attended the demonstration at the SEF, Miguel Morato, a “nationalist skinhead” with ties to neo-Nazi Mario Machado’s channel “Racismo contra Europeus” (Racism Against Europeans) and who came to both the anti-Muslim demonstration and the SEF protest, and Carlos José Martelo Pagará, the far right Ergue-Te candidate for Evora in 2022 who appeared at the July 4 demonstration. White supremacist Chega member and Aveiro delegate to the 5th Chega convention Ricardo Camões Coutinho also participated in the demonstration.
More recently, Gonçalves has been planning the official launch of his group at a “congress” to be held in Lisbon on October 21, 2023, the day that King D. Afonso Henriques took Lisbon “from the Muslims.” He has chosen a phoenix for the group’s symbol and plans to have leaders of Chega Youth speak. The party platform calls for the mass deportation of non-European immigrants and the promotion of the return of Portuguese emigrants, ending legal abortion, ending no-fault divorces, banning “Marxist parties” and the promotion of feminism, and the “termination and expropriation of all institutes and organizations that promote hatred of Portugal.”
Clube Étnico Portuguez
The new white nationalist group Clube Étnico Portuguez (CEP, Portuguese Ethnic Club) for men, founded and led by Vasco Bettencourt and Bernardo de Abreu (also Bernando Abreu), overlaps with the Reconquista movement. Abreu, who goes by the username “Sebastião” online (@TintoLusitano) and Vasco Bettencourt (@sou_lusus on Telegram) both appear to be helping to organize the upcoming Reconquista congress on October 21, 2023.
While the club is based on ethno-nationalistic principles, the organizers suggest members not discuss politics or ideology in order to avoid conflicts. Instead, members are “united in the group” by the fact that they “are of the same race,” as one member put it. The goal is to create a “fraternity of men with an identitarian conscience,” and the group posts images that glorify strong, athletic white men in a fascistic style. The symbol of the CEP consists of a red Cross of Christ and a white Celtic cross, both symbols used by the far right in Portugal, although some members have taken issue with the Celtic cross for it being too “Anglo-Saxon.”
The CEP is primarily involved in athletics, but also has interests in reading, chess, and cultural activities. In their online forum, the group votes on the activities that they would like to organize. Group members also have access to an online library of far-right literature, and even a private social network “Agora” (Now). They are particularly interested in tracing the genealogical history of the Aryan and Portuguese “race,” as well as debating questions of religion. They debated whether “Christianity or Paganism” better served the nationalist cause, for example.
Among the requirements for joining is to be “the son of Portuguese parents,” complete a task of running (or walking) “10 thousand meters,” and agree to follow the rules and code of conduct of the club, which is “confirmed” during an interview with Bettencourt. While exceptions are allowed in the case of the first rule if one parent is Portuguese and the other is European, women are fully excluded from joining the group, and a member was ejected for allegedly “owning a bar for homosexuals.” Another chat participant speaking Brazilian Portuguese was seen as an “infiltrator” by the members.
While most participants attempt to remain anonymous, the club’s several Telegram channels are open to the public, where the organizers publish their running results and their names. The group’s Strava accounts, an app where members recorded their 10K runs, are also public. With this information, it was possible, with other social media account information, to pinpoint CEP’s recruits. Most have been identified by GPAHE and exhibit various signs of extremism. Recent recruits include a member of the Portugal Active Club, another who uses an account by the name of “Tusto” with a picture of the British fascist Oswald Mosely. On Twitter, he goes by the handle @Tusto_1488 (1488 is a neo-Nazi signifier). Another’s Instagram account includes an iron cross on his profile, and has pictures that indicate that at one point, he was a member of the Portuguese armed forces. Another calls LGBTQ+ people “pedophiles” and another on Telegram said he “busy in Aljubarrota killing Spaniards.” Chat logs and other evidence also show that at one point, Reconquista organizer, and Chega member Daniel Leal (Albufeira, Faro) expressed interest in CEP. Leal was a delegate to the 5th Chega Convention, and host of the short-lived YouTube channel Culturalmente Deslocado (Culturally Displaced). He was active at both Reconquista anti-immigration protests where he gave anti-immigrant speeches and led the group in chants.