Stop U.S.-made fascist drive in Portugal!

By Sam Marcy

August 19, 1975

Ever since the overthrow of the Salazar-Caetano fascist dictatorship in April 1974, the U.S. government has been slowly and methodically preparing to ruin the Portuguese revolution, stop what it calls the drift to the far left, and frustrate the aspirations of the working class of Portugal for a revolutionary socialist transformation of their country and an end to their age-old poverty and involvement in colonialist and imperialist wars against the African people.

Very much in the manner in which it gathered the Greek colonels together and forged them into a fascist camarilla to overthrow the Greek government so again today it is following the same pattern in Portugal. It has used every conceivable device to weld together the right-wing, so-called moderate faction of the Portuguese military and is preparing to use them in a counter-revolutionary fascist coup.

The U.S. government is also using the same tested methods it employed in Chile to overthrow the Allende regime. This time, however, it has for many, many months been carrying on a virtual psychological war to prepare public opinion in this country for the eventual fascist coup, which it hopes will be successful -- but which still remains to be seen.


The Ford-Rockefeller-Kissinger administration has today a virtual army of CIA agents and military personnel operating in Portugal. It has spent practically unlimited amounts of money to bribe, corrupt, or otherwise ensnare the Socialist Party, the Popular Democratic Party, the right-wing Christian Centrist Party, and the Catholic hierarchy. In addition, all along it has virtually had in its pocket all the dispossessed elements of the Portuguese bourgeoisie and absentee landlords. All this is part and parcel of a broad plan for what is called in CIA jargon "destabilization" of the government. A part of this plan goes under the name of disinformation which means to mount a campaign of lies and deception.

In its public form it has taken the route of instigating wild rumors of Soviet intervention and Soviet financial support to the Portuguese CP. The truth of the matter is that far from interfering in Portugal, the Soviet Union is going out of its way to merely give platonic, rhetorical support. Its call on August 19 for "mass solidarity" is merely a pro-forma statement expressing solidarity and urging working class and progressive support. But considering the vast political, diplomatic, as well as economic and financial resources the Soviet Union could be utilizing, this can scarcely be called a threat to dominate Portuguese developments.

The U.S. capitalist press, on the other hand, is deliberately trying to conjure up the specter of a military confrontation with the USSR over Portugal. This is nothing but a smokescreen for U.S. interventionist schemes in the event the fascist coup which the U.S. is preparing founders.

Even the New York Times, which has led the capitalist press in lying and vilifying the struggle of the Portuguese people, has had to assure its readers that the "geopolitical situation of Portugal rules out ... Soviet intervention." And it adds, "the logistics of trying to move a sizable Soviet army into Portugal by sea or air must daunt even the most hawkish of Soviet generals."

This, however, is just another way -- a crude and cynical way -- of saying that there is no possibility of Soviet intervention, that it is a figment of the capitalist media's inflamed imagination. The real threat to the Portuguese revolution comes from the desperate efforts of the dispossessed ruling class elements of Portugal and their masters in Washington.

The last 10 days have seen Kissinger mount the platform in Birmingham. Ala., as the guest of the ultra-rightist, violently racist Alabama Senator Allen to warn the Portuguese people that the U.S. government is supporting the so-called moderates in the army, that cabal of military officers, whom the U.S., in collaboration with its Western imperialist allies, is counting on to carry out the counter-revolutionary blood bath.

As though that were inadequate, President Ford utilized the convention of the American Legion, itself a jingoist, racist, war-mongering sounding board, to launch a virtual threat against the Soviet Union for its supposed aid to the Portuguese CP.

But the purpose of the Ford-Kissinger threats was not only to mobilize public opinion in the United States but to solidly line up the Western imperialist allies and to threaten Portugal with NATO intervention. We have on more than one occasion alluded to the fact that General Haig the commander of NATO instigated and carried out last winter NATO exercises which were clearly calculated to threaten the Portuguese government. He also subsequently visited Portugal and was in contact with right-wing military leaders.

The U.S., through its ambassador to Lisbon Frank Carlucci, threatened a naval blockade of Portugal in the event that the imperialist powers in the NATO alliance feel it necessary. This was obliquely brought out in a significant column by William Buckley, ultra-rightist ally of Nixon and Ford. It is also well known that former Portuguese President Spinola visited Western Europe only a fortnight ago and met with other right-wing politicians as well as with Portuguese "socialist" leaders. His call for another fascist coup attempt under the label of the "Portuguese Democratic Liberation Movement" has deliberately been given wide publicity by the Western European imperialist press and here too, as well as by his adherents in Portugal and by elements of the Portuguese press which are pledged to bourgeois reaction and restoration.


It is high time that the radical, working class, and progressive elements in the United States recognize that the true, the real and fundamental danger to the Portuguese revolution emanates from the center of world imperialism -- from Washington. It is imperialism which sustained the 50-year-old fascist dictatorship in Portugal. It is imperialism that has needed Portugal as a satellite to plunder the African people, especially in Mozambique, Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and other areas. The fruits of the plunder have in a large measure gone to the multi-national corporations of Western imperialism, mostly the U.S. The Portuguese working class has been bled dry for years in a fruitless endeavor to hold in bondage through war and monstrous oppression the peoples of Southern Africa so that the imperialist monopolies will retain their hold on the oppressed peoples there.

The U.S. in particular needs to retain Portugal as a satellite, as a threat to all the Mediterranean peoples, as a dagger at the heart of the Arab people, and as a threat to the Western proletariat in its struggle against the European bourgeoisie.

No, the danger does not lie in Portugal becoming a satellite of the USSR, the danger lies in Portugal remaining a sub-imperialist satellite of American imperialism and a base for counter-revolutionary struggle against all the Mediterranean countries and Africa.

The attention of the American workers must be drawn to the true role of U.S. monopoly capitalism in Portugal. And every effort must be made to stop U.S. intervention, both overt and covert, in Portugal and to aid the Portuguese working class in its struggle against the counter-revolution.

It is the rule of principled class politics that a working class party never make a bloc with the right against the center on fundamental class issues. Whoever in this hour of supreme crisis for the Portuguese working class fails to see the true role of U.S. imperialism and subordinates the struggle against it, making a bloc with rightist elements in the name of the so-called struggle against "Soviet social imperialism" or "Stalinism," is betraying the masses and in fact diverting them from their principal task, which is the struggle against the imminent fascist counter-revolution.

On the popular assemblies

We have indicated on a number of occasions, especially in the July 16 Workers World, that the popular assemblies composed of organizations of workers, peasants, and soldiers are a progressive, revolutionary alternative to a bourgeois constituent assembly -- such as the one that was elected this spring and is promoted here on the left by the SWP.

They could be organs of working class power and are the embryo of a workers' state, especially if they broaden their popular mass base.

We also made the point that if the AFM validated them, which it has, that could strengthen the legal basis for the popular assemblies and open the road to action independent of the military. This would be a most favorable development.

However, if they are restricted in their popular support and have no decision-making power, and do not seek it, they would only be a rubber stamp for a military grouping. (This is only hypothetical.) We have stated again and again that the military is a bourgeois institution trained over many years in the suppression of oppressed peoples in Africa and is hardly the best instrument for guiding the popular assemblies.

We by no means contest that there are progressive and even revolutionary officers, especially in the junior ranks, but they must be responsible to the popular assemblies and not the other way around. Nor should the working class parties stake their existence on ephemeral moods in the politics of the AFM. The popular assemblies must continue to develop their own people's militia of the type that crushed the first attempted coup of Spinola. [SM]

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