Image: Carlos Alberto Santos

“Your party has already faded, man.
But certainly
They forgot a seed
In some corner of the garden”
(So much MarChico Buarque)

This April 25th, the Carnation Revolution turns 50 years old. A fundamental milestone for Portugal and the world. On that date, in 1974, Portugal was freeing itself from a dictatorship that began in 1926. The economic crisis caused by spending to combat guerrilla movements – which had already lasted for more than a decade, due to the liberation of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau and São Tomé and Príncipe, then colonies maintained by iron and fire – strengthened the movement for democracy in the country and, with nails in their hands, thousands of people took to the streets against the dying regime. The liberation of the three countries took place immediately.

The imminent military defeat for the guerrilla movements led the Portuguese Armed Forces to abandon the old regime. The book publication Portugal and the Futureby the former governor of Guinea-Bissay, António de Spínola, in defense of a political solution to the wars in the then Portuguese colonies, shows a fissure between the Salazarists and the weakening of the dictatorship.

With the fundamental leadership of the Portuguese Communist Party and established democratic freedoms, Portugal underwent transformations, in successive center-left governments, with a new Constitution of democratic inspiration, and never again experienced a dictatorship.

“The April revolution is the heritage of the people and it is the heritage of the future. Heritage built by the struggle of workers and people and which we communists are proud to have made an unparalleled contribution, not only in the long and heroic resistance, but in all the decisive moments of its construction”, says Jerônimo de Sousa, secretary general of the PCP.

Photo: archive

The new Constitution guaranteed civil and political rights, as well as access to health, culture, education, housing, social security, freedom to organize trade unions and social movements, among other reestablished human rights.

With flags similar to those currently used by religious fundamentalists united with fascists, including in Brazil, the Portuguese dictatorship used a speech against politics and politicians and slogans such as Deus, fatherland e family and the uncompromising defense of a false “Christian morality” that was extremely conservative, and had the support of a large part of the Catholic Church. As you can see, this easy discourse, which mixes economic crisis with religious faith and heightened individualism, is nothing new for the rise of fascist ideas.

to music Grândola, Vila Morena, by José Afonso, played on the radio, was the signal for the people to take to the streets with the Armed Forces Movement, occupying strategic locations to prevent any resistance. As the song says: “On every corner a friend/ On every face equality/Grândola, Vila Morena/ Land of fraternity”.

The conservative reaction to the new regime was against progressive proposals for agrarian reform, against the trade union movement and against all movements in favor of a more advanced society of a popular nature.

As an unparalleled movement in post-World War II Europe, the Carnation Revolution, the result of a worker and popular mobilization, led the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to the US intention of invading Portugal out of fear of a “new Cuba ”.

Photo: Documentation Center of the University of Coimbra

As a result, a range of anti-revolutionary forces, with strong support from the United States, began pruning the carnations in Portugal’s gardens and, in the end, the carnations were collected, but democracy prevailed; even because “they forgot the seed in some corner of the garden”, as Chico Buarque sings. But the dreams of the Portuguese people of April 25th of a more equal and humane world persist.

It is necessary to cultivate all the seeds, in any forgotten corners, to overcome hate speech, discrimination and violence, very favorable to the extreme right. As happened in Portugal, the flowers defeated the cannons, as Geraldo Vandré sings.

So Much Seaby Chico Buarque


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