Tony Cliff

Portugal at the crossroads


(Compiled by Colin Sparks)

Organisations of the State, etc.

AFM: Armed Forces Movement [MFA]. Originally a small group of career officers, it organised the coup of 25 April 1974. Its Council has become one of the main battlegrounds between left and right in the armed forces, The Assembly is dominated by officers but does contain some sergeants and ordinary soldiers.

COPCON: Continental Operations Command. The command unit of the military operations of the army in Continental Portugal. The term also signifies a small number of units of crack troops regularly used for internal security purposes. These units are among the most radicalised in Portugal. The commander of COPCON is General Otelo de Carvalho.

Supreme Revolutionary Council: Body of officers who exercise considerable power. Probably more important than the actual government.

PIDE/DGS: Former fascist secret police.

Provisional Government: The nominal government of Portugal.

PSP: Portuguese Security Police. Paramilitary fascist police. Still exist as a disciplined armed body.

GNR: National Republican Guard. Another paramilitary police force. They also still exist.

Political parties, etc.:
right-wing groups:

PCS: Christian Social Party. Banned extreme right-wing group.

CDS: Centre Democrats. Another extreme right-wing group. Both the above groups are havens for ex-fascists.

PPD: Popular Democrats. Claim to be “social democrats” but in fact right-wing anti-working-class party.

ELP: “Portuguese Liberation Army”. Clandestine terrorist organisation based in Spain. Made up of fascists and PIDES.

Reformist groups:

PS: Socialist Party [SP]. Largest party in terms of votes. Its leadership is extreme right wing of social democracy. At least until recently it commanded support from many workers, some of whom sincerely believed that it was a socialist party. It is undoubtedly the main organising centre for the Portuguese and international ruling class. Left dissidents are regularly expelled by the leadership.

PC: Communist Party [CP]. Large, bureaucratic party with considerable support in state apparatus, trade union bureaucracy and among sections of workers. Traditionally pro-Moscow.

Centrist groupings:

MES: Movement of the Socialist Left. Led by middle-class lefties but commanding some working-class support.

FSP: Popular Socialist Front. Left split from Socialist Party.

LUAR: League for United Revolutionary Action. Loose armed group with history of armed action. Some influence among workers.

There are also a number of small “Trotskyist” groups, none of which have any significant base.

The centrist groups contain all sorts of politics. Many of them are obsessed with overcoming their isolation by trying to influence the Communist Party. They are quite unable to play any significant role.

Liberation movements:

FRELIMO: Liberation movement in Mozambique.

PAIGC: Liberation movement in Guinea-Bissau.

MPLA: Angolan liberation movement. Moscow-backed.

FNLA: Right-wing Angolan “liberation” movement, backed by CIA, Zaire and China.

UNITA: Another right-wing “liberation” movement in Angola. Allegedly also CIA backed.


Last updated on 26.3.2008