Wed Apr 25th, 2007 at 02:41:10 AM EST
This is a catch phrase coined first by a veteran Portuguese journalist famous for his self-serving interviews. It was caught by another famous Portuguese, this time a comedian, and entered the public jargon, used every time one wanted to jokingly question how engaged was the other at the time.
Well, I was 7 back then, and I remember clearly getting out around 9am and walking to school only to get there and finding it closed. I went back home, somewhat happy for not having school that day.
Elsewhere in Lisbon, a military coup led by a group of captains had started to overthrow the dictatorship that had ruled Portugal for the last 48 years.
We like more diaries about holidays and history of European countries, especially if they are so uplifting as the Carnation Revolution. Promoted & slightly edited by DoDo
The coup had been brewing for a year or so. The decision to go ahead was taken in a meeting on the 24th of March following the destitution of Generals Spinola and Costa Gomes from the positions of Commander and Vice-commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. Behind this was the publishing of Spínola's book "Portugal and the future", which defended a political solution for the conflicts in the Portuguese colonies of Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique and Timor.
On the night of the 24th of April, at 22h 55m a radio station broadcasted the winner of the national song contest (and representative for Portugal in the Eurovision song contest). This was the go-ahead sign.
Shortly after midnight a few groups took control of the radio stations. A confirmation music was broadcasted, Grândola Vila Morena, a banned song written and performed by Zeca Afonso, in the style of folk chorus from the Alentejo.
At 4h 26m the first broadcast from the rebellious troops announces their intentions, asking the people to stay at home, asking the polices to not confront the military movement, and asking medical professionals to go to their hospitals, in case bloodshed occurred. The intention to avoid such a scenario is stated vehemently.
As morning breaks, the revolutionaries take their positions in Lisbon, and are able to persuade all the forces that were sent to confront them to switch to their side.
In one crucial episode the captain commanding the Forces that took over the political center of Lisbon, the Terreiro do Paço, where most ministries are placed, confronts an armoured column lead by a brigadier. Salgueiro Maia, the captain, holds a white handkerchief in his hand, wanting to parlour, but the brigadier won't meet him halfway and instead gives a firing order. He is not obeyed by any of his men, and runs away.
In the meantime, as people realize the turning point of history, they take to the streets in full support of the revolution.
What is left of the regime is sieged in the Carmo Headquarters of the GNR (Guarda Nacional Republicana, a police force), and in the headquarters of the political police the PIDE-DGS.
PM [and de-facto dictator] Marcelo Caetano phones Spinola to surrender to him and to deliver his power to someone, as he is concerned that power "falls to the streets". General Spinola takes responsibility and at the same time guarantees the safety of all those under siege.
All this passes without bloodshed.
The same didn't happen on the PIDE DGS headquarters. Five people die from shots fired from the inside of the building. The only casualties of that day.
I remember little more, besides sketchy memories of watching things unfold on TV. What I do remember was the sheer joy during the days that followed. I'm not sure when, but I know there was a point when I realized this: I was not going to go to war when I grew up.
A diary about the 25th of April probably deserves more political context. How Salazar had an isolationist view of the nation. How he held back progress and industrialization in fear of an organized working class. How dissention was met with repression. And a tribute would be owed to all those that dared confront the regime.
And then the aftermath, with the attempts of control and power from several political forces, the watchful eye of the world powers, one concerned other hopeful of having a European Cuba. The hasty decolonization process (some argue the only possible) with it's consequences for the new emerging countries that would still take many years to find peace. The demographic impact of having 500 000 refugees returning to the country fleeing the colonies, most leaving everything behind. And also the turmoil of the Revolutionary Process and all the events that eventually lead to the first Constitutional government in 1976.
But I'm afraid I don't have the stamina and the knowledge to give you more than these rough impressions of a day I think I am very privileged to have lived, even if that young. At least, I know where I was on the 25th of April.