Day of Freedom:
The 25th of April is the most important day for Portuguese people, since 1974. The day we celebrate our freedom.
Portugal is a country of almost innocent beauty, but it still feels the remains of one of the longest dictatorships in Europe.
Have you have heard about the Portugueses Red Carnation Revolution? We’ll tell you the story.
Portugal suffered the severe consequences of the First World War, so it was very easy to install a military dictatorship in 1926.
Later it was turned into the known New State in 1933, whose main figure was António Salazar, the prime minister.
To aggravate the situation, in 1961 Portugal started a colonial war in Africa, where many of our soldiers were cruelly losing their lives.
The Portuguese Army was so unsatisfied with this no sense war and the low salaries at the time, that in 1974 they decided to end it. Secretly, they created a clandestine movement to conduct a military coup and to end up with the regime.
The Beginning of the Revolution:
The Movimento das Forças Armadas (Armed Force Movement) had the plan to take control of Portugal and to expel the prime minister. Salazar has died in 1968 and Marcelo Caetano was now the government figure.
On the 24th of April, the Captains of the MFA prepared the last details so the operation could succeed: they had to take control of the airport, the Portuguese Radio, and the Television.
They took control of another big radio in Portugal: Rádio Clube Português, to communicate with each other, using passwords.
They also took control of the Army’s Lisbon Quarter to manage the other quarters around Portugal, all allied to the revolution.
At 10h55 p.m., a beautiful and romantic song called E Depois do Adeus (after the goodbye) was played on the radio. This song was a lullaby for Portuguese people, getting prepared to go to sleep. In fact, it was the first sign of the MFA Captains of the movement to initiate the revolution.
At 00h20 a.m., another song was listened to on the radio. Only this time, it was not a popular or even an accepted song. This time, people were listening to Grândola Vila Morena, singed by Zeca Afonso, a composer known by his revolutionary ideas. The song said literally: it’s the people who have the power to run the city/country and to live free.
Recent reports documented that the Captains recall the happy weirdness of knowing what the song represented – the final signal for the operation, which was from that moment on irreversible.
When the sun started to rise, the Captains marched to the main square of Lisbon: Terreiro do Paço. There, they would confront the prime minister – Marcelo Caetano, and his governors.
Here, part of the forces allied to the regime tried to open fire against the Captains. Fortunately, the dialogue and diplomacy won this battle and the Captains could continue the operation.
Late morning, the prime minister had to hide in Carmo’s Police Quarter, Lisbon, frightened about what could happen.
The Captains demanded his resignation which was accepted by the prime minister, hours later, letting Portugal on the hands of the army. The fascist regime was over.
Hundreds of soldiers were on the streets of Lisbon and Porto and despite the official warnings for people to stay at home, everybody wanted to be part of this day – our day of freedom!
That day should have been a normal day in Lisbon, with people selling flowers on the street markets. But it was not a normal day. Women selling flowers started to give away red and white carnations. The soldiers placed the carnations on their weapons as a sign of peace.
There were people shouting FREEDOM on the streets. Hugging each other. With tears of joy. What a beautiful day!
That was the beginning of our democracy.
Every year, on the 25th of April, we gather on the streets to celebrate the day of freedom. We sing songs of freedom, we hold red carnations and we thank our captains for their courage and diplomacy in such a difficult operation. We are free.
25th of April forever. Freedom forever.
Join us of the Free Walking Tour Porto in the Afternoon to learn about this amazing day.