An important date is coming closer for the Portuguese people – April 25th, Dia da Liberdade (Freedom Day). It is of the most importance and still very recent.
Let us tell you why… Before 1974, Portugal was in a fascist regime, the Estado Novo (“New State”), under the Minister President, António de Oliveira Salazar control, for four decades. Portugal was a poor country and was constantly oppressed in civil rights and political freedom. Many people debate if this was or not a fascist regime, but it was an authoritarian conservative regime certainly.
António de Oliveira Salazar
Reaching a point of big depression and decay, a group of Portuguese low-ranking militaries gathered and created the MFA- Movimento das Forças Armadas (Armed Forces Movement), in Lisbon, to end with Estado Novo regime and change the government into a democracy.
This movement would also end up with Portugal control in African colonies and in East Timor. The military rebellion began negotiations with African Independence Movements, which lead the independence to Cabo Verde (Cape Verde), Moçambique (Mozambique), São Tomé e Principe and Angola later in 1975.
The military had to do everything in great secret, since the Estado Novo regime police – PIDE, Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado -, was always on watch. They were brutal and merciless. People were afraid to be caught by them; there was no speech freedom; people couldn’t give their political opinions or express themselves, otherwise PIDE would take them to prison, to torture them and sometimes, killing them in the process.
That is why the military rebellion had to come with secret signals to start the revolution. The first signal was given at 10:55 pm on April 24th by a radio station with the song of Paulo de Carvalho (he participated on April 6th, 1974, in the Eurovision Song Contest), “E Depois do Adeus”, alerting the “April Captains”, as subsequent nickname, to start the rebellion.
The second signal was given already on April 25th at 12:20 am, by another radio station, with the song “Grândola, Vila Morena”, song by Zeca Afonso, nowadays a very strong symbol of freedom in Portugal (a political musician banned from the radios by that time, for his political ideas and opposite opinions).
This was the signal that gave the military order to take over some strategic places and announce that they were now in control over the revolution and nothing would stop them. Soon, a big group of people and folks joined the movement, showing that they were waiting for something like this to happen for a long time!
PIDE killed 4 people before surrendering and the regime fall, but nevertheless, this revolution was unusual pacific with the fact that almost no shots were fired. Instead, people took over the streets and celebrated, where carnations were put into the military rifles and uniforms.
By the end, a new constitution was born, old political prisoners were released, censorship was prohibited, civil rights and political ideals were open and people were finally free from oppression!
Today, on the 43rd celebration of the revolution, many people still remember this happening – our parents and great-parents, for example. They were there and they know how it was before April 25th. We weren’t born yet, but we can say that if it wasn’t the courage of that military men to take over, we would live in an entirely different Portugal… This only helps us to remind that no good comes from oppression and everyone should be free in their opinions and ideas.
O Povo unido, jamais será vencido!
Dá mais força à Liberdade!
(April 25th slogans)