April 24, 2014

Carnation Revolution is 40 years old


There's a great poster created by painter Maria Helena Vieira da Silva, A poesia está rua.It means Poetry is in the streets.Adres, a Portuguese street artist, made this graffiti to celebrate the Revolution in 1981.






Hello again!

I am back with a few more lines about April Revolution. One day left for Freedom Day

April 25 is now celebrated as a national holiday. Now you know that it marks the bloodless military coup that was supported by the civilian population. It allowed democracy and civil liberties to the Portuguese people after almost five decades of dictatorship (1937-1974). The Carnation Revolution ended the Estado Novo regime, the longest dictatorship in Europe, changing the Portuguese political system from an authoritarian dictatorship to a democracy.

However I must say that by all standards, 40 years later, Portugal is still one of the poorest countries in Europe and of the European Union. Presently we're  undergoing political turmoil and general discontent from large sectors of the population. Everyday someone will say that we need a new April 25. Everyday someone will say that most promises of April 25 aren't fullfilled. The truth is that Portugal is in recession. Purchasing power of the Portuguese population is gone, unemployment and inflation are high. The cost of living went up, salaries came down and benefits were reduced. The ones who thought that were safe are getting their pensions shortened after a long life of hard work and social security monthy contributions. Young people are leaving the country every week. Working middle class sufocates with tax rise. Portugal is turning into a two class country of rich and powerful and poor! Values like equality or solidarity are far from being a reality when justice, education or health is more and more a privilege just for some. So tomorrow when popular demonstrations hit the streest it will show discontent and not joy. Yet, a lot changed  in a couple of hours and I feel thankfull to those who decided to act. Those men and women who were imprisoned and tortured, those who faught for freedom, those are heroes and we should never forget that. 

I made a quick summary of some of the immediate consequences of the Revolution:

- In April 1975 a constitutive assembly was elected by universal suffrage for the first time and a constitution drawn up by the ones elected.

- Over the course of the next decade a stable two party system was established.

- General Spinola served briefly as interim president and was succeeded by General Francisco da Costa Gomes.

- Banks and big industries were nationalized and a major redistribution of land was carried out.

- Hundreds of political prisoners were released.

- Finally there was freedom of speech for everyone, citizens, authors, artists. The press, radio, television were now free of censhorsip.

- The road network increased and decreased the isolation of the interior.

- The quality of life improved in many aspects.

- In 1980, the archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores became autonomous regions to enjoy self-government.

- Over the next few years Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Cape Verde Islands, São Tome and Príncipe, and Angola all became independent. By the end of 1975, the colonies had been granted independence - only Macau remains to be handed over to China in 1999. The independence of these former colonies produced over one million Portuguese refugees (retornados).

- Portugal's entrance into the European Union (1986) opened up opportunities for trade and increased funding.



Celebrating 40 years of Revolution.
Portuguese street artist Carlos Farinha
Place: Calçada da Glória/Largo da Oliveirinha -  Lisboa
GAU - Galeria de Arte Urbana

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