Revolução dos Cravos | In the Dark

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My office mate in Barcelona is Portuguese and he very proudly reminded me this morning that today, 25th April 2024, is the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution that ultimately overthrew a fascist dictatorship and led Portugal towards becoming a progressive democracy. Just over a year later, General Franco died and Spain began its transition to democracy too. Both countries joined the European Community in 1986 and are now members of the European Union. It’s hard to believe, only 50 years on, that fascism is on the rise once more in Europe (and elsewhere). That makes it all the more important to remember the struggles of the not-so-distant past.

The signal for the Revolução dos Cravos in Portugal to begin was a song played on the radio. The result was remarkable. Although led by military officers dissatisfied with the ruling regime, it garnered a huge level of popular support and morphed into a coordinated campaign of mass civil resistance. When regime change was achieved, it was largely peaceful. The name “Carnation Revolution” refers to the flowers given to soldiers by people celebrating their liberation from authoritarianism.

Fascismo nunca mais! Vinte e cinco de abril sempre!

I couldn’t help sharing the song that triggered that huge historical moment. It is Grândola, Vila Morena by Zeca Afonso. Few people can lay claim to have written a song that brought down a dictatorship.

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