Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011

António Salazar

Overshadowed by the excesses and repression taking place in neighboring Spain under the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, the rule of António Salazar in Portugal still ranks among the most authoritarian in Europe. A staunch conservative nationalist — some would say fascist — Salazar ruled from 1932 to 1968, clinging to an anachronistic vision of Portugal as still an imperial power, enabled by its vast colonial possessions in southern Africa. Salazar's regime, dubbed the Estado Novo (New State), trumpeted stability and economic growt, but bequeathed a legacy mostly of repression and population flight. Opposition to the nature of the government's rule at home and overseas dogged Salazar's regime in the 1960s, with full-fledged rebellions kicking off in Mozambique and Angola. When Salazar suffered a brain hemorrhage in 1968, he was quietly removed from power without even being told of his ouster. Six years later, a left-leaning people-power revolt aided by sympathetic military officers — which was dubbed the Carnation Revolution for the flowers proffered to the soldiers — overthrew the Estado Novo.