What do rifles and carnations have in common? This unlikely combination immortalized the Lisbon morning of April 25, 1974.
Springtime was passing in Portugal, and an unusual scene lit up Chiado. A soldier had asked Celeste Martins Caeiro, a “waitress” at a restaurant in the iconic Edifício Franjinhas, for a cigarette, who was returning home with a handful of carnations intended for the establishment’s one-year celebrations, canceled due to the news of a coup in the country.
As Celeste wasn’t a smoker, she offered him one of the spikes and placed it on the end of the rifle. And so Celeste got rid of all the carnations and distributed them to the soldiers who were heading to the Carmo Barracks. The romantic image that gives meaning to democracy and freedom in Portugal was born, and which embodies the famous Carnation Revolution.
But revolutionary romanticism does not end there. The circumstances in which the captains’ conspiracy move took place are profoundly inspiring. At 10:55 pm on the night of April 24, 1974, a military survey was carried out, carefully constructed by the Armed Forces Movement (MFA), which began with the transmission of the song “And after Adeus”, by Paulo de Carvalho, through the Associated Broadcasters. from Lisbon; the first sign of advancing operations.
At 00:20 on the 25th, the military who occupied radio Renascença gave the second signal, with the transmission of “Grândola Vila Morena”, by José Afonso, and on Rádio Clube Português, at 4:00 am, the first Communiqué of the Movimento das Forças Armed Forces (MFA), advising the population not to occupy the streets. At that moment, the captains publicized their objectives, which consisted in the fall of the dictatorship and the end of the colonial war, with the consequent implementation of democracy. And then the unexpected happened. Prepared for a bloody battle, the captains were surprised by the immense support of the population, which massively took to the streets on that 25th of April. Worn out by years of democratic resistance and a deep economic crisis accentuated by the colonial war that began in the 1960s, the regime could not resist the association of the military uprising with popular mobilization, which formed the driving element of the peaceful revolution.
These were the last hours of the 48 years of the dictatorship instituted by the military coup of May 28, 1926, consolidated by a fascist-style Constitution in 1933. Censorship, political police, repression and torture, propaganda, repressive laws, imperialism and economic isolation marked the years of António de Oliveira Salazar at the helm of the country, until he was removed from office due to his fragile health in 1968.
In his place, Professor Marcello Caetano took over, who would lead the regime until the historic morning of 1974, when surrounded by Salgueiro Maia in the Carmo Quartel, he was deposed and sent into exile in Brazil.
Of course, the process that resulted in the Carnation Revolution is complex, as were the months that followed, marked by the intense ideological polarization present in the European and world scenario of that period, no less complex. But the MFA (Armed Forces Movement) program, consisting of the 3 “Ds” — democratize, decolonize and develop — was successfully implemented. In short, the “Militares de Abril” seized power and returned it to its rightful owner, the Portuguese people.
Free elections were called and, on April 25, 1976, the Portuguese Republic instituted its democratic Constitution, which is still in force, and which was one of the inspirations for the battered Brazilian Constitution of 1988, tirelessly defended in an intransigent way by the group “Prerogatives”. and by Brazilian Democrats.
The Carnation Revolution broke out beyond Portuguese borders, serving as an inspiration for democratic movements around the world, including resistance to the military dictatorship in Brazil, a fact immortalized in the song “Tanto Mar”, by Chico Buarque de Holanda, one of the greatest Brazilian popular music geniuses.
After living for 48 years in the midst of a fascist dictatorship, Portugal reaches 48 years of democratic life celebrating the Carnation Revolution and preparing the celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary in 2024.
The Carnation Revolution built a “common ground” in Portuguese politics, a society deeply committed to democracy and the welfare state, and a country fully inserted in the international political and economic context. The way in which Portugal faced Covid-19 without politicizing the pandemic is a fact to be well observed and one of the reasons for the Portuguese success in this matter. After the budget crisis at the end of 2021, which overthrew the government of António Costa, the Portuguese, far from any institutional crisis, went to the polls and gave the prime minister another four years in office with an absolute majority, driving away the European extreme right that threatened to put the “claws out”.
With a popular center-right president, the great jurist and constitutionalist Marcelo Rebelo de Souza; and with a center-left prime minister, the socialist António Costa, Portugal demonstrates a profound political and institutional balance, which provides the necessary stability for the consolidation of the promising economic and social scenario that is projected for the country.
If the Portuguese celebrate the achievements of April, yesterday and today, we, on this side of the Atlantic, have a decisive year for democracy and for the economic, institutional and social future of Brazil. After facing the denialist mismanagement of the pandemic and the military dictatorship, we find ourselves mired in a deep ethical, economic and social crisis. We have in our hands a lethal weapon for setbacks and installed barbarism, and that if well used can rescue everything we conquered with the democratization of Brazil. It is with the democratic vote that we can turn this dark page of our history and reconcile ourselves with the values and constitutionally established rights, conquered with a lot of democratic struggle.
That on this 25th of April our Portuguese brothers send to Brazil “a scent of rosemary”, and that with this “smell” we have the wisdom to make the votes in the polls the “carnations” that one day rescued hope, freedom forever and democracy in Portugal.
May the year 2022 be the beginning of a new time, in which the Brazilian people will never flirt with authoritarianism. May 2022 be marked in Brazil as the year of the peaceful revolution that promoted the definitive reunion of our country with what is most precious to it, citizen democracy.
That in this year 2022 Brazilians can see “equality in every face”, and that at the end of the electoral process the polls point to a “land of fraternity”, where “the people are the ones who order the most”.
So, who knows, “this land will still fulfill its ideal / It will still become an immense Portugal”.
“April 25: Always!”
TRENDS / DEBATES
Articles published with subscription do not reflect the opinion of the newspaper. Its publication serves the purpose of stimulating the debate of Brazilian and world problems and of reflecting the different trends of contemporary thought.