Democracy flourished that April day
25 Apr, 2016, By Manuel A.
As a young adult, I find it difficult to comfortably (and precisely) address the events of the 25th of April of 1974, the day of the so called Carnation Revolution, as it was an event that took place precisely 40 years ago, when I was nothing but a young couple’s vague dream. Still, I’ve heard stories of this historic day my entire life: stories of hope and fear, but mostly funny stories that showed me how beautiful and picturesque that peaceful revolution was.
But, above all, it was an important day for everyone – the dawn of democracy in Portugal.
My parents Revolution
My parents were already a couple at the time, but a pre-Revolution kind of couple: as it seems, anything beyond a hand in hand walk in the park, with a few exchange of smiling glances, was way too risky of a thing to do in public at the time. In fact, it appears that everything capable of ensuring a funny and good time or memory was deemed illegal to do in public. My father was even fined once just for playing with a rag football in the street…
I can describe my parents’ Revolution day as if I had been there too. My father went to work quite early in the morning as he normally did, and in the bus somebody told him “something huge is happening down there in Lisbon”. When he arrived in the office everybody was surrounding a single small radio, where some of the revolutionary events were being broadcasted. Uncertainty and elation grew in the air, and the boss eventually decided to call it a day, and everyone went to the streets in a cheerful but always cautious mood. Those who were afraid of what was happening went home.
My mother was still studying at the time. That day she decided to skip school after hearing the news of all the commotion happening in the country (if she really went to school she would actually find it closed). She met with my father in Aliados, just in front of the city hall. They walked along the streets all day and night, chanting and cheering, but always with mixed feelings, both joyfully and apprehensively. Nobody was completely sure of what would be coming next…
A slow day at work
Mr. Artur is the waiter at my everyday café in the Cedofeita street, in the downtown Porto. He’s been working there since 1972, and there he was when the Carnation Revolution happened. The establishment changed a lot since then: the name changed a few times, new owners came and went, the colour of the walls changed. But Artur’s memories have managed to remain intact, and he can still recall that day’s events as if they were engraved his heart and in the floor’s tiles (probably the only thing that has remained the same in the whole café).
After hearing the news, Mr. Artur’s boss at the time – an old, good and hard-working man – grew tense, and fearing this “new wave of change”, the possible riots and looting, he closed the café, shut the blinds, and asked his employees to stay with him, protecting the building until it was all over. Others left when their shift ended, but Artur stood with his boss until the next day, when the first rays of sunlight shone through the closed blinds. All he remembers of this day of revolution is this. Although a strange and big commotion in the street outside, a slow day at work…
That day was different for everyone, each lived it in his own way, but that day Portugal changed. Liberties and rights were acquired, and all was done in an honourable an exemplary way. Despite some misfortunes and misunderstandings, peace was never endangered, and the only red spilt on the streets were the red of the carnation petals.
In fact, serenity and compassion is one of my people’s main features, and those are characteristics we’re not willing to easily put aside. Still, Porto’s habitants have always been true to their convictions, and many other libertarian movements started here, in the avenues and plazas of this beautiful city centre.