The 25th of April is one of the most important days in Portuguese history and remains in all the inhabitants’ hearts and memories.
So what happened on April 25th 1974?
41 years after the beginning of the Salazar dictatorship, the Portuguese people decided to rebel.
At dawn on 25 April 1974, the soldiers of the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) decided to act. They occupied the radio studios of the Portuguese Club and communicated to the population that they wanted to return to democracy, with elections and freedoms of all kinds.
Have you ever heard the expression “songs are weapons”? Well, it really applies on that day because the military then put music on the radio that had been banned and censored by the dictatorship, which marked the beginning of the coup.
The music was “E Depois do Adeus”, by Paulo de Carvalho and “Grândola Vila Morena”, by José Afonso.
These two songs, with their very meaningful lyrics, are still known and are the symbol, even today, of Portuguese freedom and fraternity.
At the same time, soldiers accompanied by tanks, led by Captain Salgueiro Maia, set off from Santarém towards Lisbon. Once in the capital, they took up positions near the ministries and surrounded the Republican National Guard barracks in Carmo, where Marcelo Caetano, Salazar’s successor as dictator, had taken refuge.
During the day, all the inhabitants of Lisbon go out into the streets to join the military. What was supposed to be a coup d’état turned into a real revolution.
At the end of the afternoon, Marcelo Caetano surrendered and handed over power to General Spínola, which marked the end of the dictatorship. Everyone in the streets celebrated this extraordinary event, waving their hands in the shape of a V to mark their victory.
The soldiers who participated in the revolution will remain known as the Captains of April and since then, the slogan of the revolution is “o povo unido jamais será vencido”, “the united people will never be defeated”.
One year after the revolution, on April 25th 1975, the Portuguese people could vote for the first time since the beginning of the dictatorship in 1933.
On 25 April 1974, no blood was shed, no one was killed or wounded in the revolution, and yes, it was a peaceful revolution! The colour red was present on that day, but it was not the colour of blood, it was the colour of carnations.
Flowers that gave their name to the revolution of April 25.
In fact, it is said that at some point during the revolution a florist started to distribute carnations, the national flower with a bright red colour.
The soldiers put them on the end of their rifles and the civilians attached them to their chests.
And that’s why it’s called the Carnation Revolution!
The date of April 25th is therefore very important for the Portuguese, and will always be remembered.