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April 25th – Freedom Day

Portugal, a country of an almost innocent beauty, still feels the remains of one of the longest dictatorships in Europe.

With the country still suffering the severe consequences of the First World War, it was very easy to install a military dictatorship in 1926 (proclaimed lately in the well known New State in 1933, whose main figure was António Salazar).

Besides all that living a fascist dictatorship envolves, we were also suffering with the colonial war in Africa, where many of our soldiers were cruelly losing their lives. The insatisfaction lived in the 70’s was so overwhelming that the Portuguese soldiers created a clandestine movement that eventually led to the end of the Portuguese dictatorship: The Armed Force Movement.

With the death of Salazar, it was Marcelo Caetano who presided the New State when the secret meeting of this movement occurred.

It was a long wait until the 24th of April in 1974, the promised date for the coupe d’etat. It was on this day that the well known Captains of April prepared the last details of the coupe and secretly installed the command post in the Pontinha quarter in Lisbon and waited for the signal.

At 22h55m, the Portuguese radio airs the song “E depois do adeus” by Paulo de Carvalho. This song, so appreciated by all, was actually the hidden signal to initiate the first step of the coupe d’etat.

At 00h20m, the Renascença radio airs the song “Grândola Vila Morena” by Zeca Afonso, a song previously censored for being considered communist. Recent reports from those who lived the situation, remember the happy weirdness of knowing what the song represented – the final signal for the operation, which was now irreversible.

In the north, the militar force invades Portuguese radio and television.

In Lisbon, the captains march to Terreiro do Paço and the Carmo quarter, where Marcelo Caetano is, making him resign immediately.

Although radio and tv constantly advised people to stay at home, a growing crowd joins the Captains to march along with them. There was no sense of fear, just an uncontrollable will to take part in the change.

During what should be a normal morning in Lisbon, women selling flowers start spreading red carnations. The soldiers placed the flowers on the pipes of their weapons – that way you wouldn’t hear shots in the revolution.

We still feel the April flame and enjoy telling everyone who visits us all the details of our freedom day!

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