The 46th anniversary of Portugal’s Carnation Revolution (April Revolution) on April 25 will be commemorated from the balconies of people’s homes amid the COVID-19 lockdown imposed in the country. The Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) has given a call to citizens to mark the occasion by singing the iconic song, ‘Grândola, Vila Morena,’ and the national anthem from the balconies of their homes. The Carnation Revolution ended the dictatorship of the Estado Novo or New State on April 25, 1974.
The revolution marks an important milestone in Portuguese political history and in the history of the modern world as it not only brought down the authoritarian regime in Portugal, but also paved the way to the independence of many Portuguese colonies in Africa. The revolution began as a coup organized by a section of army officers, the Armed Forces Movement (MFA), in Lisbon, but swiftly received mass support and was supported by popular participation on the streets. It unfolded as a nonviolent revolution that ultimately deposed the regime on April 25, 1974. That day, civilians greeted the revolutionary ‘rebel’ soldiers in the peaceful resistance with carnations. The revolution was thus memorialized as the Carnation Revolution and is celebrated every year on April 25 as the Freedom Day in Portugal and is a national holiday.
The revolution has also immortalized the Portuguese song ‘Grândola, Vila Morena’ written by Zeca Afonso in 1972, based on the theme of fraternity between people of the Portuguese town of Grândola. The Estado Novo regime had banned several of Zeca Afonso’s songs due to their communist themes. But, ‘Grândola, Vila Morena’ was exempted and thousands attended a concert by Afonso in Lisbon on March 24, 1974. The revolutionaries also played the song on the national radio, along with Portuguese singer Paulo de Carvalho’s ‘E Depois do Adeus’ (And After The Farewell), as a signal to start the coup on April 24 and 25. The song became a symbol of the revolution and the transition from dictatorship to democracy in Portugal.
The Estado Novo regime was a conservative authoritarian junta that came to power in 1933 following the coup against the democratic First Republic in Portugal. The Estado Novo regime’s 41-year-rule was notorious for the repression of civil liberties and political freedoms. The regime also violently repressed independence movements in various Portuguese colonies. Its fall brought an end to the colonial war led by the Portuguese army in the colonies and saw the liberation of countries like Angola and Mozambique.