Liberdade! Today marks the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, the military coup that overthrew Salazar's Estado Novo regime, enabled democracy in Portugal, and freedom for its colonies.
Words Rachel Lingham | 25th April '22
At 22.55 on 24/04/74, the words of a lost love swept across the airwaves, a familiar song that would have resonated with the Portuguese people as a song of beauty and regret.
But Portugal’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest – E Depois do Adeus (‘After The Farewell’) – was actually a code, signalling to rebel captains nationwide to start their mission to seize control, without raising suspicion from the dictatorship.
A few minutes after midnight, a second song, Grândola, Vila Morena, was aired for the opposite reason. This song was banned from the radio, the use of it a sign of open disobedience – and the next signal to confirm the rebellion.
A few minutes later, tanks rolled over the Salazar Bridge and into the heart of Lisbon.
The coup was mostly peaceful and overthrew an oppressive dictatorship that had been in place since 1933 – the longest-surviving authoritarian regime in Europe.
The story goes that on the 25th April, a woman was walking the streets of Lisbon with a bouquet of red carnations. When she came across a young soldier, instead of being frightened, she placed one of the flowers into the pipe of his rifle, inspiring the other soldiers to do the same. Jubilant crowds followed her lead, and lined the streets to hand carnations to the rebels. The carnation has become a symbol of this revolution, and the start of the Portuguese democracy.
The rebellion is still celebrated today here in Portugal - and is marked with a national holiday. This year's Freedom Day is the first that celebrates more years of democracy than dictatorship.