The First Republic, Fernando Pessoa and Salazar

on May 28th 1926, a military coup put an end to the democratic regime implemented with the republican revolution of October 5th 1910.

The Republican period was a marked by highly progressive policies, such as abolishing the excessive privileges that the Catholic church had, implementing a law on religious freedom (which was far from being perfect but allowed the construction of the first synagogue in Portugal after the jews were forced into conversion in the 16th century), schools where boys and girls were not separated, civil marriage and the right to divorce, etc.

However, the economic condition of the country, the First World War, the great flue epidemic, and the fact that the political system’s design didn’t defend it from instability, and all the intertational context that was unfavorable to liberal ideals made it very easy to undermine this progressive experience.

After the military coup of 1926, fascism wasn’t implemented immediately, and many people were expecting that a military dictatorship would be a temporary solution to curb instability. With the rise of António de Oliveira Salazar, all illusions were lost. In 1933, as a new constitution was approved, all the legacy of the First Republic was erased, except for the republican flag and anthem, that were kept (and this is why i love my anthem and flag). This was because, as Salazar and the military who supported him had no intention whatsoever to restaure the monarchy, it would not be suitable to change the national symbols (Portugal’s last king was a decent man who would never cope with fascism).

I am writing this post having one person in mind, my dear niece who did’t get the chance to properly learn the History of her mother’s country, and is only now discovering it.

It is important that she realizes that 95% of the current portuguese right wing elite who portrays itself as liberal in what regards the economy and conservative in what regards social issues (I love this contradiction, because it is enough to have them discredited) , but they are no more than reactionary fascists who want to undermine democracy because they think that in a country with the lack of development perspectives, social ecquality and justice is a treath to their well being, that is, their right to buy luxury appartments in the former headquarters of the political police, PIDE.
These people constantly abuse the memory of one of the 20th century’s greatest poets, Fernando Pessoa, because of the patriotic tone of his book Mensagem, one of the few that he published during his lifetime. Pessoa indeed gave the benefit of doubt to the coup, but very quickly realized what was the real nature of Salazar’s regime. In 1935 he wrote a poem that was censored, in which he perfectly describes Salazar. I am sorry that my readers who can’t understand portuguese are not provided with an english translation, but I wouldn’t dare making it and I could’t find it anywhere. Howver, I have a friend who is an english teacher and I will ask her to do it for me.

Pour toi, ma cherie, pour que jamais tu ne te laisses tromper par des loups habihés en moutons!

António de Oliveira Salazar

Três nomes em sequência regular…

António é António.

Oliveira é uma árvore.

Salazar é só apelido.

Até aí está bem.

O que não faz sentido

É o sentido que tudo isto tem.

Este senhor Salazar

E feito de sal e azar.

Se um dia chove,

A água dissolve o sal,

E sob o céu

Fica só azar, é natural.

Oh, c’os diabos!

Parece que já choveu…

… … … … … … … … …


Do tiraninho!

Não bebe vinho.

Nem sequer sozinho…

Bebe a verdade

E a liberdade.

E com tal agrado

Que já começam

A escassear no mercado.


Do tiraninho!

O meu vizinho

Está na Guiné

E o meu padrinho

No Limoeiro

Aqui ao pé.

Mas ninguém sabe porquê.

Mas enfim é

Certo e certeiro

Que isto consola

E nos dá fé:

Que o coitadinho

Do tiraninho

Não bebe vinho,

Nem até


Fernando Pessoa

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