It’s a bit pathetic, yesterday was my most favorite holiday EVER, and I didn’t even notice. I didn’t flip open the Portuguese newspaper, I didn’t reflect or write, I didn’t salute a beautiful event in the history of the world. I just kept repeating the date to myself like an old man losing his mind: 25 of April. 25th…. April… 2o plus 5. And only now, after receiving an email from my father, do I realize why the date echoed in my head. It’s the anniversary of the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. April 25th 1974… 31 years ago.
31 years ago a country that had lived under decades of dictatorship, torture, and lies, awoke from a long slumber. Led by the armed forces, who were tired of fighting brutal colonial wars, people took to the streets. The tanks rolled down the streets of Lisbon, but not with the intention of killing. In the barrels of their weapons, carnations, what would become the symbol of the revolution and later, the socialist party. A symbol that stood for peace, democracy and human rights.
People tend to say that it was one of the few bloodless coups in the history of the world. Though that’s somewhat true, people did actually die on that day, when the murderous secret police opened fire from their headquarters, on the singing masses outside. But beyond that, the revolutionaries successfully booted out the dictator and the fascists behind them. They demanded socialism (their form of it) and a society opened to the world.
Of course, 31 years later, it’s pretty telling that even a fairly intellegent boy like myself forgets to celebrate. My generation doesn’t really notice or remember. They see Portugal and it’s many problems, and don’t feel much like cheering. The reality of the situation is that the global economy hasn’t worked to well for the average citizen. Quality of life is good for some, but everyone knows it’s far below what it could and should be. The ideals of the revolution were discarded along the way, the political class has firmly implanted itself, complete with the same ol rhetoric of empty promises and populist ideals.
Still, as is clear from my post last year, I love allowing myself to get caught up in the romance. Because it must have been an amazingly romantic time. Everything I read and watch about that time oozes hope and passion about the future. Who doesn’t like feeling that?
Feliz 25 de Abril Portugal. O povo é quem mais ordena.