Chronology of Events
in Portugal



Portuguese guerrillas bomb troop ship bound for Guinea-Bissau (April 9). Inflation and unemployment high as fascist regime fights losing colonial wars in Africa. Caetano fascist regime overthrown by military (April 25). Thousands of workers take to the streets during struggle, demanding "Down with colonial war! Freedom for political prisoners!" General Antonio Spinola emerges at head of Armed Forces Movement. Top officials of Caetano regime allowed to leave the country. Leaders of left parties return to Portugal from exile. SP and CP join with Armed Forces in coalition government. Workers round up fascist police in the streets, begin purge of administration of state-run institutions.


Huge May Day demonstration in Libson. Strikes in food production, transportation, and manufacturing industries sweep Portugal. Spinola attacks the strikers; CP calls some strikes "fascist inspired." Revolutionary movements fighting in Portugal's African colonies reject Spinola's appeal to disarm. Spinola becomes president (May 16), receives first diplomatic visit from U.S. ambassador. Demonstration of 6,000 in Lisbon demands Portuguese troops out of Africa (May 25). Air Force General Carlos Galvao de Melo threatens military will "not tolerate massive strikes."


Government censorship reimposed. Left-wing editor Luis Saidanha Sanches arrested for advocating desertion of Portuguese troops in Africa. Armed forces assume full control of state-run radio and TV (June 19). Cabinet (including SP and CP) issues decree making it illegal to incite military disobedience, strikes, unauthorized demonstrations, or to offend the president, members of the Council of State, or the cabinet. SP leader and foreign minister, Mario Soares, attends NATO conference in Ottawa. Nixon visits Spinola in the Azores.


Spinola appoints former fascist cabinet member as ambassador to UN, provoking large street demonstrations. Spinola confines leftists troops to barracks (July 6-7), sends troops considered right-wing to break up leftist demonstration. "Economic reform" law issued (July 6) that limits right to strike, strengthens private property, encourages foreign investment. Thousands of civil servants demonstrate against law (July 8).


Spinola announces Portual is ready to "grant" independence to African colonies, but insists guerrillas lay down their arms. Guerrilla groups continue struggle; Guinea-Bissau and Mozambique make plans for independence with Portugal unable to mount any offensive there.


Rightist rally called by President Spinola in name of "silent majority" is canceled after armed workers, peasants, and soldiers together set up roadblocks in Lisbon (September 27). Spinola resigns (Spetember 30).




Bourgeoisie, with support of SP, campaigns against law to unite unions in one labor federation. Government agrees on political independence for Angola, dropping demands that Angolans disarm before negotiation (January 15). Agreement provides for three Angolan Movements -- MPLA, FNLA and Unita -- sharing the power after official independence on November 11, 1975. Portuguese troops to remain in Angola for three months after that. Neo-fascist convention in Oporto broken up by leftists (January 25).


Attempted fascist coup by rightist officers is thwarted by an all-out mobilization of the workers and progressive military, with the CP playing a leading role in calling out the workers (March 11). Spinola flees to Spain. Almost all banks are nationalized (March 15). Premier Goncalves assures businessmen that government doesn't intend to nationalize whole economy. Workers and soldiers join in huge demonstration to honor soldier killed in the aborted coup. Junta bans two left and one rightist party from upcoming election (March 18). U.S. embassy, Ford, Kissinger all make threats against Portugal. Five NATO countries warn Portuguese President da Costa Gomes against "making Portugal a communist country."


Elections to Constituent Assembly give SP 38 percent, Popular Democrats 26 percent, CP 13 percent. Parties of center (SP and PD) had gained from government ban on right-wing Christian Democrats. Catholic Church campaigned against left, threatening to excommunicate those voting communist.


U.S. imperialism steps up campaign against Portugal. Ford attacks "swing to communism" at NATO meeting, then visits Franco in Spain. West Germany offers "aid" to Portugal if it keeps "democracy." Portuguese junta arrests hundreds of members of Maoist MRPP.

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