Portugal in the 1960’s

With the failure of the Beja conspiracy of 1 January 1962 and the repression of student unrest that spring, the most acute phase of the crisis that had hit the Portuguese government ended, both internally – partial successes of the opposition with the shares of gen. Delgado, of the cap. Galvão and with the repeated military plots – that on the foreign one with the loss of possessions in India and the beginning of the struggle for independence in Angola. From that year on, the opposition no longer constituted a serious threat, even if a part of it radicalized, retreating into hiding and resorting to armed sabotage. The colonial question would have become more and more serious with the extension of the guerrillas to Guinea-Bissau in 1963 and to Mozambique the following year. Salazar had tended until then to modernize the overseas provinces as little as possible, in order to deprive the black population of the opportunity to demand changes; but once armed resistance began, this strategy was modified and an accentuated investment policy, both state and foreign, was promoted in Africa and in the metropolis itself, creating the area of escudo, stimulating emigration to overseas and partly improving the conditions of indigenous peoples.

This policy, stimulated by Minister A. Moreira, achieved some results, managing to almost triple the white population of Portuguese Africa and lay the foundations for the impetuous future development of Angola. But the colonial war ended up absorbing more than 40% of the Portugal’s budget annually, forced to station an army of 180,000 men in Africa with at least two years of overseas detention; and ended up causing an inflationary conjuncture, implying an ever greater dependence on international financial groups and other powers. Condemned by the UN, the non-aligned countries and the socialist ones, with the support of the Catholic Church partially waning, Fr ​​approached those Western nations that raised fewer objections to his African policy: in exchange for aid, military bases were granted to the USA, France and the Federal Republic of Germany; in 1967 the NATO IBERLANT Command was established in Lisbon; close ties were maintained with Spain, Brazil, the South African Republic and Rhodesia. At the end of 1966, the government lost effective control of the Macao territory under pressure from the People’s Republic of China, maintaining only nominal sovereignty there. Inside, the factors of greatest concern remained inflation and the balance of payments deficit, while massive emigration – often determined by the desire to escape military conscription – began, at the end of the 1960s, to negatively affect the possibilities of development. of the national economy. The process of partial dynamization was however reflected in the growing urbanization and in the percentage increase of the industry; the traditional public works policy was expressed in spectacular works such as the bridge over the Duero in Oporto (1963) and the bridge over the Tagus in Lisbon (1966). For Portugal 1999, please check estatelearning.com.

The activity of the opposition continued abroad, especially through the attempts of gen. Delgado, but in April 1965 he was found murdered in Spanish territory near the border. The repression did not hesitate to resort to measures such as confinement, now in disuse for decades, applying it in 1968 in the form of a forced domicile on the island of São Tomé to the socialist M. Soares. Not wanting to incur in the repetition of the experience of 1959, the government modified the law for the election of the President of the Republic, delegating it no longer directly to the population, but to a special college: in 1965 the office was reconfirmed for another seven years. admiral A. Tomás; in the parliamentary elections in November, the opposition limited itself to calling for abstention and denouncing the war in Africa. On 1 June 1967 a new civil code came into force, more liberal than the previous one; in the same year the third development plan for the years 1968-73 was launched. On September 16, 1968, Salazar was struck by a cerebral hemorrhage which rendered him unable to function in the government; on 27 September the successor was appointed in the person of MJ das Neves Alves Caetano, an old collaborator of Salazar but for years resigned from all public office, who tried to present himself as an exponent of a rationalization and liberalization plan. Some changes followed: the name of the single party was changed from União Nacional to Acção Nacional Popular, and that of the political police, from PIDE to DGS (Direcção Geral de Segurança); the number of ministries was reduced and various ministers replaced; censorship and control over trade union and professional associations were relaxed; a university reform was introduced and repatriation was granted to the exiles. But soon these measures turned out to be superficial or otherwise unsatisfactory.

The renewal was in fact not very credible due to the permanent bureaucratic inefficiency and the poor compliance of the economic entrepreneurs with the appeals for rationalization: the projects for the nationalization of electricity and health care reform met with severe resistance; the tender for the construction of the motorway network resulted in a major scandal, while a few semi-monopolistic groups continued to dominate the market, sometimes siding openly against Caetano himself. In the elections of 1969 the opposition had a better chance than in previous years, but, since the representation of minorities was not provided for by law and there was more intimidation, the government list obtained, as usual, all the seats; to Inside the new Parliament, however, a “liberal” wing differed, two exponents of which came to resign in protest at the beginning of 1973. The death of Salazar, which occurred on July 27, 1970, sharpened the contrasts within the regime, being Caetano opposed by an even more conservative faction. The periodic constitutional revision in 1970 was more extensive than in the past, granting, among other things, greater autonomy and the denomination of “state” to each of the African territories; it made possible the legal equation between Portuguese and Brazilians; authorized the government to take anti-subversive measures by informing Parliament. In July 1972 A. Tomás was re-elected president for the third time; new ministerial reshuffles followed, the launch of the fourth development plan and an agreement with the EEC for a reciprocal reduction of customs tariffs, in force since Jan. 1. 1973.

Portugal in the 1960's