History of Liberty Day in Portugal
Beginning in 1926, the Portuguese people were ruled under a military dictatorship. Several liberties were taken away by the government, and no political parties were accepted in the country. In 1974, a movement led by military captains undertook a revolution that ended with the surrender of Marcelo Caetano’s government.
Led by a group of captains including General Antonio Spínola and General Costa Gomes, the revolution had its pretext in a movement started by military officials. They were not in agreement with a new law about their promotions, and they had a deep desire to end the war that Portugal had with its African colonies. The coup of Caetano’s government was successful due to the lack of motivation of the military forces to continue under such a government, one that kept on sending its military to territories in Africa.
The wars in Africa had been raging for 13 years, and few saw a resolution to the disputes. The Captains Movement took to organizing itself, hiding from the opposing government forces inside military organizations. The main events of the Carnation Revolution took place in the military headquarters of Carmo in Lisbon, where the revolutionaries managed to complete a victorious coup without shooting a single bullet. Thanks to the timely occupation of public communication centers and the mobilization of underground resistance groups available at the time, the rebels were able to mobilize the people to support them in the streets on that same day.
Its triumph allowed political parties to take back the republic power, marking the Portuguese Second Republic. The Carnation Revolution also led to quick and sometimes messy negotiations to release the Portuguese colonies around the world as well as the demobilization of Portuguese armies in those territories.