24 January 2021, Sunday, 14:44
Sim Sim, Charter 97!

Portuguese Lesson for Belarus

Portuguese Lesson for Belarus

The army must fulfill its duty and protect the people from tyranny.

For some reason, I remembered. No, it's not an anniversary at all. It was in Portugal, on the other side of Europe, in April 1974. I was already quite an adult then, I graduated from MGIMO, so I remember everything well. In Portugal, dictator Salazar, who ruled for decades, died and was succeeded by dictator Marcelo Caetano. Portugal fought a hopeless and bloody war in almost all of its colonies - Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, and even Timor. With the help of Cuba, the USSR tried to get its hands on these richest possessions of Lisbon. In Portugal itself, the poorest country in non-communist Europe, the secret police PIDE raged, prisons were full of dissidents from communists to right-wing liberals, who could emigrate. Powerful guards and special services suppressed all protests, not stopping to torture and shed blood. What could unarmed citizens do against these "special means"? The army was well maintained; officers were paid more than professors. But there is also a civic feeling, there is also a responsibility to the country, and there is also human dignity.

Apart from the army, no one in Portugal could overthrow this cruel regime. And the young officers gradually came to an agreement among themselves. There was a "conspiracy of captains." It was headed by Colonel Vasco Gonçalves. There were many generals in Portugal, but they were hardly approached. They were almost all bribed by the regime.

The performance was scheduled for three in the morning (when the streets are empty) on April 25. They planned to start later, but the secret police were on the conspiracy trail, and it was necessary to hurry.

There were few units loyal to the conspiracy - an engineering regiment, a school of military administration, three military schools, a battalion of mountain rangers, one armored cavalry regiment. The conspirators contacted the Air Force and Navy and enlisted their moral support. They will not go against the conspiracy.

On April 24 at five to midnight, a prearranged signal sounded on the Portuguese radio. In a slightly trembling voice, the announcer said: "Midnight is in five minutes, and now listen to the song of Paulo de Carvalho 'And then, goodbye.'"

The password was "courage." The answer was "for the victory." At exactly three o'clock in the morning, the military units of the rebels began their journey to Lisbon. At the same time, the announcers read out an appeal to citizens from mobile radio stations. Not a military dictatorship, but the return of power into the hands of the people, democratic elections, an end to the war in the colonies, and their liberation — these are the rebels' goals. They asked the doctors to come to hospitals in case of bloodshed, although it was said that the rebels very much hoped that the supporters of the regime would not come forward and would show prudence. Citizens were asked to stay in their homes to avoid casualties.

But the citizens could not be kept. Before dawn, Lisbon was full of cheering crowds. Some merchant, history has kept her name - Celeste Seirush - the first to lowered a carnation into the barrel of a soldier's carbine. Hence the name of this April revolution - "revolution of carnations."

The dictator Caetano ordered the loyal guards, primarily the armored ones, to crush the uprising. Tanks loyal to the tyrant took to the streets. The battle seemed imminent. But between the tanks of the tyrant and the soldiers of the revolution, crowds of citizens stood with flowers. Just like it is now in Minsk. And the tankers refused to carry out the generals' orders, despite the threat of being shot on the spot. Within minutes, the commanders were disarmed and arrested by junior officers.

By the end of the day, the guard barracks surrendered, in which the dictator and his accomplices were hiding. The next day, the PIDE headquarters was taken by storm. By the evening of April 26, the most terrible prison in Lisbon, Camias, was taken. The revolution won almost bloodlessly. A year and a half later, two other non-communist dictatorial regimes in Europe - in Spain and Greece - fell. Europe freed itself from tyranny, and everything went over to democracy. Soon, these countries were admitted to the European Union.

And if it were not for the courage of the Portuguese officers, blood and tyranny would have ruled for a long time in Portugal and its colonies, and possibly in Spain and Greece.

There are such dead ends of politics when neither peaceful processions nor even civil protests armed with God knows what can drive out the tyrant. And then the army must fulfill its duty and protect the people from tyranny. Sometimes there is no other way. This was the case in Portugal forty-five years ago.

Andrey Zubov, Facebook