In signing the Atlantic Pact (NATO) on 4 April 1949, Fr confirmed his traditional orientation of keeping side, in foreign policy, with Great Britain and the Western world in general. The close Portuguese inclusion in the Atlantic alliance was confirmed in 1951 with the concession (6 September) of military bases to the USA in the Azores and with the participation (21-31 August) in the Nairobi conference for the defense of the African continent between the powers with interests in Africa. The “Atlantic fidelity” remained in the following years one of the cornerstones of the international action of Lisbon, together with the strengthening of the Luso-Brazilian solidarity and the Iberian pact of March 17, 1939 with Spain, and the meticulous defense of its colonial territories.

The rapprochement with Brazil materialized in the friendship and consultation treaty signed in Rio de Janeiro on November 16, 1953, with the aim of “reciprocally granting special treatment in the legal, commercial, economic, financial and cultural fields to the citizens of both sides., who in this way are equated with the subjects of the other party in everything that is not regulated by the constitutional provisions of the two nations “. Other manifestations of the excellent relations between the two countries were the visit of the Brazilian president Café Filho to Lisbon from 22 to 28 April 1955, the commitment with which Brazil fought for the admission of the Portugal to the UN (14 December 1955) and the visit of the Portuguese President Craveiro Lopez to Brazil from 5 to 25 June 1957. On the occasion of this

Regarding Iberian unity, Lisbon made every effort to facilitate Spain’s exit from the diplomatic isolation in which it had found itself since the end of the Second World War. It was the Portuguese Foreign Minister Cunha who raised, on February 20, 1952, the question of Spain’s participation in NATO, and continued in the following years to keep the question open and in the meantime facilitate the insertion in Madrid in other Western collaborative organizations. Periodic meetings between the respective statesmen served to establish a solid alignment of the two policies: among the many, the Craveiro-Franco one of May 15-20, 1953 in Madrid, the Salazar-Franco one of July 8-9, 1957 and the Tomás- Franco of 10 January 1960. For Portugal 2018, please check

The firmness in the defense of the colonial heritage was first manifested in the decision, in 1951, to transform the colonies into “overseas provinces”, giving them a new constitutional order: the administration was more centralized and the existing colonial parliaments were changed in Government Advisory Councils; the residents of the overseas provinces received the status of Portuguese citizens with full equal rights, although the granting of citizenship rights was subject to the adoption by blacks or mestizos of European life forms, the abandonment of certain traditions such as polygamy, the ability to speak and write correctly the Portuguese, to the possession of a profession or trade or property and to the fulfillment of military obligations; sum of conditions – to which in practice the conversion to the Catholic religion was also added – which meant that only a small minority came to enjoy these rights. This firmness was reiterated against the claims of the Indian Union on the Goa, Damão and Diu plants, rejecting the various attempts of New Delhi, from 1949 onwards, to start negotiations on the sale of these small territories, supporting the thesis that it was a metropolitan territory and therefore could not be sold: thesis defended by the Portugal even at the UN with the refusal to consider himself linked to the provisions of the Charter on non-autonomous territories. But the Indian Union in December 1961 unilaterally resolved the issue by occupying the territories with military action.

The death, on April 18, 1951, of President Oscar Carmona gave Prime Minister Salazar the opportunity to take a further step in the construction of the Estado Novo, based on the absolute political domination of his party União Nacional: on April 25 he had the National Assembly approve a revision of the 1933 constitution which entrusted a 15-member State Council with the power to decide in advance on the “political expediency” of presidential candidacies. As in the presidential elections of February 20, 1949, in the election of July 22, 1951 the opposition candidate withdrew and the government candidate, gen. Craveiro Lopez. A greater vivacity of opposition to the regime emerged with the political elections of November 3, 1957, in which a group called the “National Democratic Front” participated. Then, in the presidential elections of 8 June 1958, from which Américo Tomás was elected, an independent candidate, gen. Humberto Delgado, who got 23 percent of the vote.

Spectacular expression of the opposition to the Salazar regime was, between the end of February and the beginning of March 1961, the well-known accident of the Santa Maria: Captain H. Galvão, a political exile and one of the chiefs opposed to Salazar, seized the passenger ship at sea which was hijacked by him, after a tortuous journey, to Recife, handed over to the Brazilian authorities and returned by them to the Portuguese company. This propaganda episode did not have any serious repercussions, while instead the crisis that also affected the Portuguese dominion was much more worrying, which also spread from the individual action of the indigenous nationalists (especially in March and April 1961), on a broader level, to that of organized guerrilla units. No clarification, in the sense of some start to a democratic regime, emerged from the elections of November 12, 1961: the democratic opposition. republican, after having been rejected by President A. Tomás appealed against the abuses exercised by the Salazar government against opponents, was forced on November 6 to withdraw from the electoral competition. In reality, since 40 per cent of voters were excluded as illiterate, the opposition had little chance of success and the elections of 12 November, entrusted to the choice of 130 candidates on the only list of the União Nacional, could not give any other indication, if not the expected consent to the Salazar regime.

Portugal in the 1950's

Portugal in the 1950’s
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