On National Holiday Portugal's President Hoists Flag – Upside Down

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

The official celebrations of October 5 in Portugal, a national holiday that celebrates the establishment of the republic in 1910, was marked this year by a symbolic and rather unfortunate act by President Cavaco Silva, who unintentionally hoisted the country's flag upside-down.

President Cavaco Silva hoisting the flag on October 5, 2012. Photo by Artº 21 shared on Facebook (in public domain)

President Cavaco Silva hoisting the flag on October 5, 2012. Photo by Artº 21 shared on Facebook (in public domain)

According to military conduct, the meaning of a flag being hoisted upside down is that a territory has been taken over by the enemy. Article 332 of the Penal Code, condemns those who publicly “outrage national and regional symbols”, such as the flag, the national anthem or other emblems of Portuguese sovereignty, with imprisonment up to 2 years or a fine of up to 240 days.

Visual artist and teacher José António Fundo wrote [pt] on his blog Fundo Azul (Blue Background):

"Portuguese flag version 2.0 Now idiot proof". Image by Johny Jambalaya on Facebook (used with permission)

“Portuguese flag version 2.0 Now idiot proof”. Image by Johny Jambalaya on Facebook

Um Presidente hasteia a bandeira do seu país ao contrário. Este acto está carregado de simbolismo. Ainda que tenha sido involuntário. Este Presidente já nos habituou a actos desprovidos de sentido, de intenção e de alma. Uma bandeira invertida é sinal de um país vitima de um golpe de estado, um navio tomado por piratas. É um pedido de auxilio causado por uma tomada violenta e ilegítima do poder, a perca de autonomia e liberdade. Portugal foi tomado por um governo que defende interesses estrangeiros, por uma troika que quer criar um exército de escravos europeus, por falsos políticos que protegem interesses económicos nefastos. Cavaco Silva não se desgasta muito para defender o interesse dos Portugueses. Sem querer realizou o mais simbólico e preocupante acto que acompanha a comemoração da República. A Republica está no fim. A democracia também. A bandeira deveria manter-se invertida. Até lhe agradecia a ironia mas estou farto de aturar as suas tolices.

A President hoists the flag of his country upside-down. This act is loaded with symbolism. Even if it was involuntary. This President has accustomed us to acts devoid of meaning, intention and soul. An inverted flag is a sign of a country victim of a coup, a ship seized by pirates. It is a request for assistance caused by a violent and illegitimate seizure of power, the loss of autonomy and freedom. Portugal was taken by a government that defends foreign interests, by a troika [formed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Central Bank and the European Commission (EC)] that wants to create an army of European slaves, by false politicians who protect adverse economic interests. Cavaco Silva doesn't get too worn out by defending the interest of the Portuguese. Unintentionally, he has made the most symbolic and disturbing act that accompanies the celebration of the Republic. The Republic is coming to an end. So does democracy. The flag should remain inverted. I would even thank him for the irony, but I'm tired of putting up with his nonsense.

A year and a half ago, Global Voices reported on the “bailout” of public debt entering into effect, quoting artivist Miguel Januário who ironically suggested an “update [to] the Portuguese flag, together with the increase of the length of the national anthem to two times (…) to keep up with the reality of [the] country”.

After this year's October 5, creative updates to the flag, as seen in the image above, and to the national anthem, as can be heard below, started popping up on social media.

Many people have also updated their online profiles and avatars with upside-down imagery.

"Happy anniversary upside down republic "¡ɔıןqndǝɹ ǝʌıן ƃuoן" Poster by Gui Castro Felga (used with permission)

“Happy anniversary upside down republic “¡ɔıןqndǝɹ ǝʌıן ƃuoן” Poster by Gui Castro Felga published on the blog Ministério da Contra-propaganda.

This year it was the last time that the country will celebrate the date as a national holiday – a measure announced earlier in 2012 in order to increase the number of working days. For the first time in 102 years the official celebrations did not take place in the Municipal Square in Lisbon for security reasons, as reported on i newspaper (whose cover on October 6 was also turned upside down), and were displaced instead to a closed space called Pátio da Galé.

Even so, two women in protest have succeeded in shaking the events: one interrupted the end of the President's speech with desperate complaints, and another one recited a resistance song titled Firmeza (Firmness) by Fernando Lopes-Graça.

The blog Casa das Aranhas posted [pt] (with photos) about the series of protesting events that took place throughout the day, including a demonstration in front of the Assembly of the Republic, which had been called on Facebook and ended with the detention of protesters.

This post is part of our special coverage Europe in Crisis.

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