Friday 25 April marks the 40th anniversary of Portugal’s “Carnation Revolution” (Revolução dos Cravos or simply 25 de Abril). This was arguably the moment at which modern Portugal began to take shape, as the revolution led to the overthrow of the authoritarian and conservative Estado Novo regime, the introduction of genuine democracy in the country, and the withdrawal of Portugal from its African colonies. The Carnation Revolution was so-named because no shots were fired and, to celebrate its success, carnation flowers were displayed in the muzzles of army rifles and on the uniforms of military officers.
The revolution began as a military coup by the Movimento das Forças Armadas, a group of lower-ranked, left-leaning Portuguese army officers who opposed Portugal’s lengthy, expensive and unpopular Colonial War – and, in particular, new government legislation to fast-track militia officers into higher military ranks to take part in this war. The movement was initially planned and enacted by officers such as Vasco Gonçalves – Portugal’s prime minister following the revolution and interviewed in Vasco Gonçalves: um general na revolução (classmark: 585:5.c.200.10) – and Amadeu Garcia dos Santos, whose memoirs were published as General Garcia dos Santos: memórias políticas: um pouco do que vivi (classmark: 585:5.c.201.16). Continue reading