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International Socialism, January 1976


Steve Jefferys

Portugal: The November Crisis

A Chronology


From International Socialism, No.85, January 1976, p.13-19.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The author, who was in Portugal immediately after the events of 25 November, compiled this account from eyewitness reports and the following written sources with the assistance of Robin Ellis and Peter Robinson.



Right take up the cudgels

19 September: Sixth Provisional government is formed by Admiral Pinheiro de Azavedo. Its main elements are the right-wing social democrat ‘Group of Nine’ officers led by Melo Antunes and the Socialist Party led by Mario Scares. It also includes the extreme right-wing PPD, whose leader Sa Carneiro was a deputy in the fascist Assembly set up by Caetano, and one Communist Party minister. It has three aims: restoring bourgeois authority over the armed forces, the media (TV, Radio and Press) and industry.

25 September: The Revolutionary Council decides to establish a ‘strategic reserve’ Military Intervention Group (AMI) of specially trained and paid soldiers for use in critical situations.

29 September: Sixth government uses troops to close down the radio and TV stations. Within hours the soldiers are solidarising with the workers. The most left-wing radio station, Radio Renascenca, was kept off the air by commandos just back from Angola. The revolutionary left fails to win mass support for a general strike when the Communist Party opposes the call.

21 October: A giant demonstration to the Radio Renascensa transmitter that is still being guarded gets the station back on the air. Soldiers in SUV (Soldiers United will Win) steward the march.

24 October: Plans for a right-wing coup in November are published. It will start with the dismissal of General Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho (head of COPCON and RML – Lisbon Military Region), General Fabiao (head of the Army) and General Vasco Goncalves (former fifth government prime minister). What is not revealed at the time is that regular secret meetings have been taking place between some 15 right-wing conspirators ever since the Group of nine published their . document on 8 August. The principle conspirators are Captain Vasco Lourence, Major Melo Antunes, Lieutenant Ramalho Eanes, Colonel Jaime Neves, Major Sousa e Castro and Major Canto e Castro. They all take on specific jobs. Lourenco and Antunes are responsible for the political timing; Eanes, the brother-in-law of one of the pilots who bombed RALIS on 11 March and who was implicated at the time, is given responsibility for military co-ordination.

The right-wing offensive begins

7 November: A unit of 60 paratroopers blow up Radio Renasenca‘s transmitter. The only way the sixth government can get its programme carried through is by terrorism. The paratroopers had been crucial to the right-wing coup attempts of 28 September 1974 and 11 March 1975, but on this occasion, when they find out the operation had not been co-ordinated by Copcon as they had been told and that its object was to dynamite Radio Renascenca, they move into revolt. The officer commanding the unit, Captain Barrocas, tells them that the left would cease to exist in Portugal after 11 November. So they decided to refuse to obey fascist officers and declare they are ‘unconditionally on the side of the workers and peasants’. Within a few days a mass meeting of privates and sergeants elect a Committee of Struggle and demand the sacking of Captain Barrocas. 123 reactionary officers leave the barracks and put themselves under the orders of the Air Force commander, General Morais e Silva. He orders the paratroopers to demobilise and cuts off their pay and supplies. The paratroopers then ask COPCON and Otelo to take them under their command.

11 November: Despite pressure from the Communist Party, the sixth government refuse to recognise the MPLA as the legitimate government of Angola on its independence day. This refusal is clearly in line with CIA policy aimed at isolating the MPLA.

The Communist Party moves onto the streets

12 November: 100,000 building workers surround the Sao Bento palace in Lisbon, meeting place of the Constituent Assembly. They force the government ministers and PPD and PS delegates to remain there until their demands are met for a national wage structure and an increase from 4,500 to 6,500 escudos a month. COPCON and Otelo (and the Amadora commandos) refuse to raise the siege. The Communist Party give full support to the demonstration although its negotiators try to get the workers to settle for less than their full demands. It is the first of four of Communist Party-led mass mobilisations that take place in Lisbon within 12 days. In every case their aim is to force the sixth government to the left rather than kick out the sixth government and establish a united revolutionary socialist government (the demand put up by the revolutionary left).

14 November: The cabinet finally concedes the building workers’ demands in full, to be implemented by 27 November.

15 November: PS and PPD delegates to the Constituent Assembly move out of Lisbon to Oporto, complaining of ‘mob rule’ in Lisbon. Soares and Sa Carneiro, decide to provoke a constitutional crisis to force the right in the armed forces to move.

The Communist Party raises the stakes

16 November: A vast demonstration takes place in Lisbon. It is called by the Provisional Secretariat of the Workers’ Commissions of the Lisbon Industrial District, a body dominated by Communist Party members. This committee has held its first meeting the previous weekend and around 1,500 delegates from over 120 workers’ commissions had attended.

Between 200,000 and 300,000 attend the massive march which is dominated by the Communist Party slogans against the right-ward drift of the sixth government and against the PPD. Without the full backing of the Communist Party, the slogan ‘Vasco’ (Vasco Goncalves, former fifth government prime minister who is very close to the Communist Party but who is also said to be involved in negotiating with officers further to the left) is also raised. Some rank-and-file Communist Party members are obviously harder against the sixth government than is the Communist Party leadership, which got Costa Gomes to speak.

Tuesday, 18 November: The Group of nine (that includes Melo Antunes, Foreign Minister, Brigadier Charais – Central Military Region commander, Brigadier Correia – Southern Military Region commander and Captain Vasco Lourenco) backs out of a meeting with the Communist Party at the last minute. The alliance of the PPD-PS Group of nine appears to have been forged.

The Revolutionary Council of the MFA is split four ways: the largest section covers a range of extreme right-wing elements (Jaime Neves – Amadora commandos’ colonel, Pires Veloso – Northern Military Region commander, Morais e Silva – Air Force commander, Pinho Freire – commander first region air force); then there are the right-wing social democrats of the Group of nine; then the left-wing social democrats around Goncalves and the Communist Party (Admiral Rosa Coutinho – Navy commander, Martin Guerreiro); and finally the populist socialists around Otelo de Carvalho. The sixth government asks Otelo to give up his post as Commander of the Lisbon Military Region. He refuses to resign unless his successor is one of his group of supporters.

Thursday, 20 November: Melo Antunes, the Foreign Minister, issues a statement at 2 a.m., saying that from 4 p.m. that afternoon the sixth government will ‘suspend the exercise of its governmental activity until the President of the Republic and Chief of State and Major-General of the Armed Forces (Costa Gomes) is able to guarantee the necessary conditions for the functioning and authority of the government in order to assure the completion of the government’s programme in all the national territory.’ The right have provoked their constitutional crisis. The Communist Party acts immediately to intensify pressure on the Revolutionary Council and President Gomes for a left PS-PCP-Group of nine government. In sharp contrast with its refusal to mobilise on 29 September (see above) and on 25 November (see below) it called for instant strike action and a demonstration outside Belem Palace from 3 p.m. The Provisional Secretariat of the Workers Commissions of the Lisbon Industrial District issues the formal call, but the Communist Party’s leaflet predominates:

‘Everyone to Belem; The working class, the workers, the Portuguese people protest against the government’s moves towards right-wing politics and repression and demand the adoption of measures that defend the gains of the workers and will advance the revolution. Suspension is the Sack! Reactionaries out of the government!’

The final manoeuvre

Monday, 24 November: The Provisional Secretariat of the Lisbon Workers’ Commissions issues a call for strike action at 4pm, two hours before the Revolutionary Council meeting, to give support to the opposition to the appointment of Lourenco. The demands issued were:

The Communist Party seconds word for word the call for strike action and these demands. In a statement that appears to go even further in its challenge to the sixth government, it adds:

‘We call on the working class and workers to strengthen their unity and organisation, to remain vigilant and to advance the struggle towards the objectives already announced ... The manoeuvres aimed at a rightward shift in the organs of Power (government and military structure) cannot be allowed to happen.’ (My emphasis – SJ).

The strike call is 80 per cent solid, but instead of a demonstration the Provisional Secretariat and Communist Party have only asked that the workers discuss and vote on these demands at meetings in the factories. In most factories these demands are carried overwhelmingly, but in some factories the Manifesto of Revolutionary Officers is also discussed and supported.

The right-wing coup

6 p.m.: The Revolutionary Council meeting begins. A right-wing demonstration is organised at Rio Maier, North of Lisbon, and later right-wing squads cut off all roads into Lisbon, ostensibly as a protest against the Communist Party Minister of Agriculture, the establishment of co-operatives and land reform. Neves moves some armoured cars to the Belem Palace and the Military Police barracks for the ‘security’ of the Revolutionary Council. The right-wing coup begins. The response to this call for strike action and a mobilisation outside the Belem Palace, was tremendous. Between 80,000 and 100,000 workers straight from the factories gather chanting the main Communist Party slogans, ‘Reactionaries out of the government, Now!’, ‘Support the MFA’, ‘No to the government’s blackmail’, ‘Power to the Left, not to the Right.’ At midnight 14 revolutionary officers mainly around the PRPand MES issue a Manifesto of the Revolutionary Officers to the Soldiers, Sailors, Working Class and Working People. It concluded,

‘We are with the Armed People’s Power, with the soldiers, with the revolutionary militants, until the final victory, until the seizure of power – Long Live the Socialist Revolution, Long Live Armed People’s Power, Revolutionary officers, with the soldiers, workers and peasants – together we will conquer.’

Among those who sign were Major Tome and Captain Luz, commanders of the Military Police and Almada Fort respectively, and Captain Durand Clemente.

The Revolutionary Council of the Armed Forces Movement take over from the cabinet the day-to-day running of government. By now the right are sure that the Communist Party will demobilise its supporters just as rapidly as it had mobilised them. So they call the Communist Party’s bluff. Instead of backing down Costa Gomes announces that Otelo is dismissed as Commander of the Lisbon Military Region and would be replaced by Vasco Lourenco, one of the Group of nine. This is the first stage in a move to restore ‘discipline’ (i.e. right-wing control) over the armed forces.

Friday, 21 November: Meetings take place at virtually all military units in the Lisbon area and everywhere (except at the Amadora Commando barracks) the soldiers refuse to accept Lourenco. Otelo goes to Belem Palace and Gomes decides to postpone a final decision until the Revolutionary Council meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday night. Otelo accepts command of the paratroopers to strengthen his hands in negotiating for his job.

Saturday, 22 November: Socialist Party refuses to meet Communist Party to discuss formation of a PS-PCP government. The right-wing alliance holds firm.

Sunday, 23 November: At a Lisbon rally of 40-50,000, Soares issues a call to arms, saying the Socialist Party ‘will fight to defend democracy with guns in our hands’. He demands the closing of the two most well-known left-wing units, the Military Police and RALIS (the Lisbon Artillery Regiment).

Tuesday, 25 November: (The times given below are approximate)

1 a.m.: With five votes against the Revolutionary Council decides:

  1. To confirm Vasco Lourenco as Commander of RML;
  2. To confirm the discharge of the paratroopers who are to be replaced by those just back from Angola.

2 a.m.: The four armoured cars of the Amadora commandos outside the Military Police barracks move away. The right have set va trap and don’t want to be seen to spring it themselves. Outside the Alcoentre prison which houses many PIDE (former secret police) agents, a crowd of reactionaries starts to gather.

4 a.m.: The sergeants of the paratroopers, who are dominated by the Communist Party and supporters of Goncalves, present orders to Otelo for the occupation of the five Air Force bases in the Lisbon Military Region. Otelo signs and the paratroopers start to move. The Communist Party dominated Committee for the Defence of the Revolution mobilise throughout Lisbon. MES (Movement of the Socialist Left) and the PRP issue a joint statement that doesn’t mention the paratroopers, they are unaware of the moves already underway. It begins, ‘The hour has come when we must give a decisive lesson to the bourgeoisie ... the fascist beast is entering the final phase of its coup plot.’ It gives the call for defensive action against the right: ‘Workers and peasants assemble in mass at your workplaces and keep yourselves organised.’ And it ends with the same slogans the two organisations have been putting forward for several weeks previously:

‘Down with the sixth government! Down with the Council of Counter-Revolution! Forward to a United Revolutionary Government! Long Live Armed People’s Power! Long Live the Socialist Revolution! We Will Win!’

The LCI (International Communist League, Portuguese section of the Fourth International) issues a statement describing the situation describing the situation as calling ‘for a response from the masses to the reactionary offensive.’

6 a.m.: As the paratroopers begin taking the bases and ask for support, units from RALIS move to defensive positions covering the motorway into Lisbon, and a handful of soldiers and two officers from the left-wing military technical school (EPAM) occupy the RTP (state radio and television) studios in Lisbon.

8 a.m.: The paratroopers take the Air Force HQ at Monsante and capture General Pinho Freire who they confine to his quarters. But his guard is so slack that he has the use of a phone until 3 p.m. that afternoon, and uses it to keep in touch with the rest of the Air Force and Belem Palace.

Two players leave the table

There is no sign of a clear ‘military command’. What in fact is happening is four simultaneous manoeuvres: Otelo’s aim is to put pressure on Gomes to reverse the previous night’s decision. The Communist Party’s aim is to put pressure on Gomes, Antunes and Soares to increase its strength in the sixth government. The paratroopers are serious: they feel that if the latest measures are not challenged then the old fascist element will walk all over them again. They also feel confident following the encouragement and promises of support from the Communist Party the previous day. The right wing are also serious: they intend to wait for the moment when Otelo backs out and the Communist Party demobilises and then to strike as hard as they can against all the main leftist military units.

The revolutionary left is caught completely by surprise by the turn of events. It is completely unable to provide a clear chain of command to coordinate the defence of the leftist units, let alone to organise an offensive. Revolucao, the PRP paper, confirms this in a special issue that appears five days later:

‘Not a single one of the military actions was unleashed by the revolutionary left, neither military or civilian,’ it states. ‘Militarily the actions of the Right were aimed at destroying the revolutionary barracks: Military Police, RALIS, EPSM, EPAM, RAC, RE I, which were obliged (when they were attacked) to respond ...’

The units targeted by the Right were easily taken (although in some cases it took two days) because there was a total absence of command structure to co-ordinate and give orders. The ‘revolutionary command’ obviously did not exist, clearly exposing as lies the suggestions that it was ‘an extreme-left coup’. Most damaging of all, the revolutionary left is not well enough implanted in the working class to win a general call for a mass mobilisation and defensive strike action in the face of the opposition or confusion of Communist Party militants.

8.30 a.m.: Otelo goes to Belem Palace to negotiate with Gomes. He stays there until the afternoon when he returns briefly to the COPCON headquarters before rushing back to Belem. He is prevented from leaving again. Without Otelo giving the orders many units refuse to move. A COPCON soldier interviewed in Revolucao (5.12.75) says

‘Without doubt if Otelo had taken command and given orders to the RALIS and to the workers ... things would have taken a different course.’

Colonel Varela Gomes, commander of the strongly Communist Party fifth division, goes to COPCON and attempts to co-ordinate the Lisbon Military Region and in particular the left units in place of Otelo. But many supporters of Otelo and other revolutionary officers are deeply suspicious of orders that come from a prominent Communist Party officer.

The Communist Party issue a leaflet in the streets and factories that spells out the essence of the Communist Party’s strategy – there is a major government crisis, the left musn’t exaggerate its chances, the best hope is for a shift to the left ... meanwhile stay as you are, work normally, but be vigilant:

‘... The way out will not be by the imposition of the dominance of the PS-PPD alliance in the government, or of only one tendency of the MFA in the armed forces. Nor should the forces of the right have any illusions. The attempt by the forces of the right to profit from this situation by imposing their hegemony would continue to sharpen the situation and would lead rapidly to new and more serious conflicts. The forces of the left would also commit a grave error if they overestimated their own strength and tried any desperate acts. The way out of the crisis lies in the reorganisation of the MFA on a progressive basis and in the formation of a left government based on a platform that corresponds to the interests, aspirations and objectives of the working classes and the people as a whole.’ (my emphasis – SJ)

The leaflet concludes,

‘The situation at this time demands great calm and confidence in the future. The Portuguese people will defend its freedoms and other gains of the revolution and will build a democratic regime on the road to socialism.’

The contrast with last Thursday’s Everyone to Belem could not be more marked. The Communist Party is not calling for action in the class nor does it attack the ‘ultra-lefts’. It is playing for time to allow negotiations to begin, without concern for the confusion in the class and in the armed forces that such a strategy produces.

10 a.m.: Major Costa Martins, the former Communist Party Minister of Labour arrives at Belem Palace to suggest he should be appointed Air Force Commander. The first Communist Party negotiating position is rejected and Martins leaves to continue the limited military mobilisation. (Martins later escapes from Portugal, it is believed to Cuba in the cargo hold of an aeroplane).

12 noon: Alvaro Cunhal, leader of the Communist Party, meets Melo Antunes and Costa Gomes. Several meetings with Antunes follow during the next day-and-a-half. During these meetings the following agreement is reached:

  1. The Communist Party will not call for any general mobilisation of the workers;
  2. The Communist Party’s strongest military unit, the marines which have 14 companies operational as against the commandos’ four and is the country’s largest military force, will stay out of any involvement;
  3. Antunes will campaign for more Communist Party positions in the government;
  4. The sixth government will restore ‘order’ to the paratroopers and to those units strongly influenced by the revolutionary left;
  5. The Communist Party and its fellow travellers in the military will not oppose the rapid restoration of ‘order’ in the armed forces.

1 p.m.: Admiral Rosa Coutinho leaves Belem Palace to ensure the non-involvement of the Navy and the Marines. Gomes opens talks with Morais e Silva, Ramalho Eanes (who takes overall responsibility for military co-ordination) and Jaime Neves.

The decisive hours

2 p.m.: The paratroopers issue a statement that they have occupied their bases in response to the fascist repression of their officers and they announce they have dismissed General Morais e Silva, General Pinho Friere and the other Air Force Revolutionary Council members, Costa Neves and Canto e Castro. They are ‘convinced of the natural and frank support of their comrades’ in other military units in the struggle to’ build ‘a revolutionary air force on the side of the working class, the vanguard in the conquest of power.’ Their statement ends, ‘Long Live the Revolutionary Air Force, Long Live the Socialist Revolution, Long Live Portugal.’ Two days later at a mass meeting at Tancos, the paratroopers repeat

‘We swear here and now that the accusation that it was a military coup is not true. Not being able to continue to agree to the positions taken by the Chief of the Armed Forces (Gomes) that were against the interests of the Portuguese people, we decided to underline our military effectiveness and revolutionary discipline in a vast operation of occupation and neutralisation of the main Air Force units with a view to making a direct challenge to one general, a soldier whose decisions were deviating from the objectives of the Democratic and Socialist Revolution.’ (i.e. Moraine Silva -SJ).

The Communist Party-dominated Intersyndical (Uniao dos Sindicatos de Lisboa) issue a communique under the demands ‘Against Right-Wing Command of the RML’, ‘Against Reaction and Fascism’ and ‘For A Government to Serve the Revolution’. It called for stoppages of work and for the mobilisation of pickets to guard the water supplies, electric transformers and radio and TV station. The last official union call for strike action is heard over the radio at about 6 p.m. from the Communist Party-dominated metal workers’ union.

4 p.m.: Major Diniz de Almeida, the commander of the RALIS barracks, an officer close to the Communist Party, arrives at the Monsante base occupied by the Paratroopers with two armoured cars. He asks, ‘Where are the marines?’ The answer is ‘We still don’t know.’ Diniz de Almeida then leaves one armoured car at Monsanto and returns to RALIS. In Setubal, South of Lisbon, the Committee of Struggle occupies the town hall and sets up a local radio transmitter. Delegations from several factories in the Lisbon area have answered the TV call to show their support for the soldiers by gathering at the barracks. More than a thousand workers are Outside each of the RALIS, Monsante, and the Military police barracks and the RTP studios. Delegations from Communist Party-led workers’ commissions as well as from the revolutionary left ask the soldiers to arm the people. It takes the Communist Party several hours to get all its militants into line. Possibly some 5-10,000 workers move to support the soldiers on Tuesday and Wednesday: a tiny majority of the class. In the southern region of Alentejo thousands of workers and peasants mobilise to give support.

4.30 p.m.: The Revolutionary Council finally decide the time is ripe. The Communist Party has not mobilised the marines while Otelo is neutralised. Costa Gomes therefore declares a State of Emergency, takes personal command of the RML and forbids the publication of newspapers or unauthorised broadcasts and bans meetings and demonstrations.

7 p.m.: The Amadora commandos arrive in 25 armoured cars at Monsante, surround it, and an hour later take it, spraying bullets at the crowd, 23 civilians are wounded. The mop-up operation has begun. Only two things can prevent reaction from winning an important victory: the mass mobilisation of the workers and the co-ordination of the leftist military units with the marines. The Communist Party holds the key to both, but throughout the following days it obstructs every attempt to do either.

9.10 p.m.: Captain Durand Clement’s TV appeal for support for the paratroopers is cut off and replaced by a Danny Kaye film from the Oporto studios. The commandos have re-taken RTP.

9.30 p.m.: Costa Gomes appears on television and announces a partial State of Siege and a curfew.

10.20 p.m.: The Monte Real base is re-taken. This base has been surroundered all day by Socialist Party demonstrators who were attacking the paratroopers. PRP attempts to mount a counter-demonstration from Marinha Grande were hampered by the Communist Party.

Reaction moves in for the kill

Wednesday, 26 November: Diniz de Almeida leaves RALIS at 6 a.m. for Belem Palace to surrender. From there he phones the Military Police barracks and reports that RALIS has fallen. As a result the soldiers at the Military Police, already surroundered by the commandos, decided to hold a meeting to discuss their next moves. While the meeting was taking place the commandos entered. Two commandos and one MP was killed before the MP officers order their men to cease firing. With the fall of the Military Police the final success of the right-wing coup was assured. With each barracks seizure the leading leftist commissioned and non-commissioned officers are arrested and imprisoned and the soldiers demobilised permanently or for two weeks.

The Setubalense appears, the only daily paper to defy the State of Emergency. It reflects the confusion of much of the rank and file of the revolutionary left as to the true nature of the situation. Its banner headline reads, ‘Arms to the Workers, Now! The situation is favourable to the Left. National Radio: Counter-Revolutionary broadcasts.’ And a lead article on the front page is titled, ‘Revolutionaries, the Hour is Ours. Take Power, Now.’ Later, an army unit moves into Setubal, occupies the newspaper, arrests the editor, and evicts the Committee of Struggle from the Town Hall. The revolutionary left are able, however, to keep an illegal short-wave radio transmitter on the air.

At night, Melo Antunes appears on television arguing that the Communist Party must remain in the government. He is fulfilling his side of the agreement with the Communist Party, just as they have carried out theirs. The aspect neither had bargained for was that reaction had discovered it was easy to pick off the uncoordinated leftist military units. Now there is nothing to prevent the right from going much further than any of the social democrats – the Communist Party, Melo Antunes and his Group of nine, and Soares – want.

Thursday, 27 November: After aircraft from a NATO base have buzzed RALIS for nearly 24 hours, and as a regiment of ‘loyal’ troops moves against them, a meeting of soldiers at RALIS finally decides to surrender. Later, the Revolutionary Council meets: Generals Otelo and Fabiao are relieved of all their posts. Lourenco is confirmed as Commander RML, COPCON is dissolved. Eanes is appointed Chief of the Army. Commandos arrest nearly every COPCON staff officer.

The Revolutionary Council also decides:

‘That negotiations pending on the collective contracts will be suspended until 31 December while the government defines a new incomes policy to reduce the different excessive and uneven wage rises and to establish increases at a much lower level to take into account the economic realities and the rising of the cost of living.’

The settlements won by the building workers, dustmen and bakery workers in the previous weeks are cancelled. Now they have military control the right clearly show how they intend to use it.

Friday, 28 November: The mop up of dissident military bases continues until finally the remaining paratroopers surrender at Tancos. The confidence of the right increases hourly.

Saturday, 29 November: Admiral Rosa Continho is forced to resign from the Revolutionary Council. The Communist Party issue a leaflet For a Political Solution to the Crisis which quotes 21 PCP statements since 8 August to prove that it has always attempted to find a political solution to the crisis. Soares who has been accusing the Communist Party of attempting a coup all week changes his line. He starts speaking of the need for the Communist Party to remain in the government on condition that it condemns its part in the events of the 25 November and guarantees complete support for all actions of the government. This change is brought about by the scale of the right-wing victory which has shifted the balance away from the social-democrats in the armed forces. The extreme right wishes to launch widespread repression against the revolutionary left and the Communist Party, and to keep the state of emergency for two months. It is announced on the radio that warrants are out for the leadership of four left organisations. But then Gomes appears on television and announces a relaxation of the terms of the state of emergency. Privately-owned newspapers and football matches are back in business. Monday is to be a national holiday to celebrate ‘national unity’. Gomes sides with Antunes and the Group of nine.

Sunday, 30 November: It is officially denied that warrants are out for the revolutionary left. Instead, every single political party in Portugal is invited to send representatives to meet the President in Belem Palace. Costa Gomes calls on the parties to surrender any weapons, not to promote clandestine radio broadcasts or to support strikes or demonstrations in the period immediately following the state of siege. He also calls on them to get their activists backing the battle for production.

Tuesday, 2 December: None of the state-supported newspapers (eight) which are all left-inclined appear while all the right-wing papers do. To strengthen this control over the media, the Revolutionary Council nationalises the private radio stations and authorises a thorough purging of leftists (including Communist Party members) in them and in the RTP. Radio Renascenca is not nationalised: its future is to be determined in negotiations with the Catholic Church. 75 workers are sacked immediately. The Commission investigating the PIDE is occupied by the right-wing National Guard under the instructions of Eanes pending its re-organisation. The State of Siege is lifted.

Alvaro Cunhal, General Secretary of the PCP, interviewed in O Jornal, 5 December 1975:

‘The first thing to say is that from the available facts the events of November 25 cannot be considered, as a “coup” or an “insurrection”, as you say, but as the coincidence of various military revolts each with their own logic and their own immediate objectives ... It is clear to us there was no plan for the seizure of power. No political programme. No centralised command. No political objectives relating to the constitution of a new government ... As for the reactions of average workers and people to these events, it must be understood against the background of intense and sharp political struggle against a deviation to the right and of the very close links that exist between the peoples movement and units of military authority. It is this background that allows you to understand the attitudes of popular solidarity with the rebellious soldiers and how it is almost certain that, at an individual level, there were members of the PCP who took that attitude. It mustn’t be forgotten that the PCP has more than 100,000 members.’

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