Lusosphera: Remembering the Carnation Revolution

It was a beautiful party
I was very pleased
I've still kept stubbornly
an old carnation for me
They have wilted your party
But they must have forgotten a seed
in some corner of the garden

(Song by Chico Buarque, to whom I beg forgiveness for my translation)

On April 25 1974, 34 years today, Portugal's 40-year fascist dictatorship, the longest in the history of Western Europe, came to an end with the Carnation Revolution, a leftist, military-led coup d'état. On that morning people went out to the streets despite the advice to stay at home, but instead of blood shed, bullets were swapped for flowers. There was a surprisingly peaceful overthrow of the dictatorship of Antônio de Oliveira Salazar and his successor, Marcelo Caetano, in which the population held red carnations and tucked them into the soldiers’ rifle barrels. The second aim of the revolution was the cessation of the war in Africa.

With the too rapid independence for its African colonies, a violent civil war shook Angola, Mozambique was made independent the year after but only found peace in 1992 and East Timor was seized by force by Indonesia a year later. Other colonies, like Cape Verde, were left poor to despair. Despite the decolonization process being considered a shambles, the revolution enjoys popular support today and many Portuguese speaking bloggers, from these countries and around the world, dedicated a post to it.

Lusofolia [pt] publishes the video above, ‘Tanto Mar’ is a song-homage composed by Brazilian Chico Buarque, which was later censored as Brazil was enduring its own dictatorship. The blogger says:

… tão distante já, é comovente relembrar daqui de longe o dia em que foram as mulheres que ofereceram flores aos homens. Um abraço a todos e a todas.

… it is so distant now, it is moving to remember from here, so far away, the day on which it was the women who offered flowers to men. A hug to all ladies and gentlemen.

CBugarim [pt], who was born under the Portuguese rule in Angola, says:

Festejo a Paz e o Progresso em Angola e o facto de a distância não me ter separado da minha Família e amigos mais queridos. Presto a minha homenagem a todos aqueles que pagaram com as suas vidas a factura da Liberdade e da Paz.

I'm cheering for the Peace and Progress in Angola and the fact that the distance has not separated me from my dearest family and friends. I pay my homage to all those who paid the bill of Freedom and Peace with their lives


From Maputo, Mozambique, Marta [pt] has been publishing April 25 inspired posts all day with poems, links to video and images, such as the one above.

From Macau, Leocardo [pt] explains the relationship society has with the historic day:

Em Macau o Dia de Cravos bateu com pouca força. É uma sociedade muito conservadora que se pela pelos santinhos, missas e procissões. Talvez seja por isso que alguma da beatada da metrópole se deu tão bem com os ares de cá. Talvez por isso não compreendam que afinal é o povo quem mais ordenha (ordena, bolas!). As actividades do 25/4 resumem-se ao feriado no Consulado, da Escola Portuguesa, e ao protocolo da praxe. Sempre presentes estão os habituais papa-eventos, que vão lá seja qual for o orador.

In Macau, the Carnations Day hit with little impact. It is a very conservative society which goes after little saint images, masses and processions. Perhaps it is why some of the church-blissful ones from the metropolis did so well with the airs over here. Perhaps that is why they don't understand that it actually is the people who do most milking (I mean who order!). The activities of the 25/4 holiday are held in the consulate, in the Portuguese School, and follow the usual protocol. There will be the usual party-goes, who will be there whoever the speaker is.

[Note: the blogger makes a very difficult to translate wordplay with ordenha/ordena, which sound very similar in Portuguese but the first means to milk an animal, and the second to order, to be in charge. The word Ordena was used in a then banned song by José Afonso, Grândola Vila Morena, broadcast on a radio station as a kind of password on the morning of April 25 to signalize to the troops that the day had come, as Brazilian blogger Elisabete Cunha [pt] quotes in a very elaborated post].

From East Timor, Frederico Duarte Carvalho [pt] suggests a book by Nuno Simas which shows how the US knew exactly what was going on in Portugal, unlike the popular belief:

Podem encontrar aqui os originais dos arquivos norte-americanos. O Nuno Simas, contudo, começa o livro com a defesa da versão oficial de que os EUA estavam a “leste” em relação ao golpe que preparava para o dia 25 de Abril de 1974 e, mais à frente, cita Henry Kissinger a queixar-se de que os EUA não tinham de andar a prever golpes pelo mundo fora. Dito assim, parece mesmo que nada se sabia…

You can find the original US archives here. Nuno Simas, however, starts the book defending the official version that the U.S. were “east” when time came to the coup that was being prepared for April 25, 1974, and later, cites Henry Kissinger complaining that the U.S. did not have to to anticipate coups by the outside world. Putting it like this, it seems that they knew nothing…


From Portugal, Alder Pinoca [pt] publishes the image above, says that he remembers little of the sheer happiness around from the day in his childhood and asks when the promised ‘Freedom Day’ will actually come:

E diziam que a liberdade estava a passar por ali e que tinha vindo para ficar porque a defenderiam.
Era o 25 de Abril de 1974. Tantas palavras promissoras eu ouvi, a tantas alegrias eu assisti.
E agora, hoje, neste momento, onde estará a liberdade e a alegria que guardei no cofre das minhas memórias de criança?
É isto a liberdade? É isto a democracia? A justiça?
O 25 de Abril, sempre! É isto?

And they said that freedom was coming through and that it was there to stay because they would defend it.
It was April 25, 1974. So many promising words I heard, I watched so much joy.
And now, today, today, where is the freedom and joy that I kept safe in my childhood memories?
Is this freedom? Is this democracy? Justice?
April 25, always! Is that all?

On the other hand, also from Portugal, Tiago R Cardoso [pt] laments that the young generation of today do not appreciate April 25 and do not know how to protest when they need to do so:

A actual juventude está afastada do 25 de Abril, dá-lhe pouca importância, acha que a liberdade e todos estes direitos que tem caíram do céu, quando são fruto de anos de lutas, de acumular de frustrações e injustiça, que culminou na a revolta contra “o estado a que chegamos” […] “O 25 de Abril não é monopólio de uma geração nem de uma força política”, quem me dera que muitos ouvissem e entendessem..

The youth of today is far away from April 25, they give it little attention, they believe that freedom and all the rights that they have have dropped from the sky, whereas they are the result of years of struggles, accumulated frustration and injustice, which culminated in the revolt against “the state we have reached” […] “April 25 is not the monopoly of a generation or a political force,” I wish many people would hear and understand this.

You can read an article by Mozambican author Mia Couto about the revolution here.


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