The 39th anniversary of Portugal’s 1974 “revolution of the carnations” that overthrew a 48-year-long dictatorship, was marked on April 25 by a huge march against austerity in Lisbon.
The symbols of that revolution — the carnations and the song “Grandola, Vila Morena” (broadcast in the early hours of April 25, 1974 as the signal to start the revolt )— were massively present.
They now stand for the need for another rebellion, this time against the austerity imposed on the country by the “troika” -- the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The demonstration was led by a chaimite, the standard armoured car once used by the dictatorship to suppress revolt in the country’s colonies. It was finally turned against the regime by the soldiers disgusted with that job. It was followed by the April 25 Association of soldier participants in the revolution.
This year, the association refused to take part in the official celebration as a mark of protest against the policies of the conservative government of Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.
Speaking for the asociation, Colonel Villalobos Filipe denounced the willing collaboration of the Coelho government with the leading circles of national and international finance as well as “the connivance of the President of the Republic [Anibal Cavaco Silva]”.
At the official celebration earlier in the day, Cavaco Silva had ruled out calling early elections, even though all polls show a majority in favour. His call for collaboration between all political forces was directed against the Socialist Party (PS), Communist Party (PCP) and Left Bloc, as well as against previous presidents like socialist Mario Soares.
Soares had previously told the Jornal do Brasil that the gains of April had “almost been completely destroyed” and that “this government must fall”.
The demonstration drew together delegations from Portugual’s traditional trade union movement with groups that have arisen in the course of the struggle against troika austerity, notably the umbrella group “Screw the Troika”, responsible for two enormous protests over the past six months.
Large contingents from the PCP and Left Bloc, and also from the PS youth, also marched. The Left Bloc contingent was joined by the Alexis Tsipras, leader of the radical Greek coalition SYRIZA.
The contingent marched behind a banner which read, in Greek and Portuguese, “United Against Austerity”, the theme of a large public rally featuring Tsipras and Left Bloc leaders later in the day.