Otelo Saraiva de carvalho

Died a historical figure: Othello Saraiva de Carvalho.


It is difficult for those under 40 years of age and born and living in democracy to imagine the is a coup d'état.


But what is a coup d'état? And what role did Otello Saraiva de Carvalho play on April 25, 1974?


It must be remembered that we live in Europe, a continent where human beings have developed some of its most impressive characteristics.

Since classical antiquity we have discovered a curious way of living in a community called democracy. Over the course of 2000 years the peoples of Europe have been trying, step by step, to reproduce, here and there forms of collegiality and democracy. Gradually, century after century, regimes approaching modern democracies were formalized. Elections, parliaments, defense of the weakest are just some of these elements. In the second half of the 20th century. XX, many were countries in Europe and in the world where the exercise of full democracy was observed, with many of its benefits, in countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Switzerland, USA, Belgium and even Germany.

But in Portugal, none of this happened.


A mysterious man, named António Oliveira Salazar, remained as Prime Minister of Portugal for 36 years. This country was showing signs of great delay compared to the other countries of Europe. Democracy was considered a silly thing, there was censorship in the media and Portugal was one of the latest countries in Europe.

In 1961, a group of military personnel tried to overthrow the government. He didn't make it. At the same time, a war began that was trying to keep African territories under the Portuguese. It was 13 years of war and about 1 million soldiers involved in a war completely out of historical time.


For it was some of the young officers who fought in Africa who took an initiative in 1974: overthrow the regime and implement democracy and freedom.


But overthrowing a regime through the forces of arms requires careful and thorough planning.

Several military personnel met secretly and created the MFA, the Armed Forces Movement. After many meetings the day was decided to take power: April 25, 1974.

The authorship of this planning fell to Major Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, aged 37 years and with several missions in Angola and Guiné.

There are 20 handwritten pages and then typewriter beats in several copies, because there were no computers, no printers and the photocopies were something primitive.


Several military units throughout the country would have to be controlled by MFA military personnel.

Instructions in closed letters, passed clandestinely, were delivered throughout the country.

A complex transmission system was set up in a barracks on the edge of Lisbon, in Pontinha, at a time when there was no internet, no mobile phones. All planned in detail.

To warn the military around Lisbon, a radio station would broadcast at 23h00 the theme that won the Song Festival: "And after goodbye" sung by Paulo de Carvalho. Later, Radio Renaissance, which could broadcast to the whole country, made hear the "Grândola Vila Morena" Zeca Afonso.


All planned in detail by this military with a huge sense of military strategy.


De Santarém broke a military column commanded by Captain Salgueiro Maia. He crossed Lisbon along the main avenues, drawing the attention of several forces loyal to the government. Meanwhile, other strategic sites were occupied by other military forms. This was the strategic plan of the Military Coup.


All over the world, military coups are synonymous with spilled blood and many deaths. In Portugal it was a peaceful coup. Even so, five people died, in a confrontation with PIDE, the political police of the regime.


The result is part of history and has brought freedom and democracy to Portugal, this European country of 10 million inhabitants.


In 1993, Colonel Othello Saraiva de Carvalho went to visit the D. Carlos I School. We had lunch, me, and many other teachers, in the school cafeteria, proud to be around a hero.

The great heart of this controversial man wanted to rest July 25, 2021.

Thank's, Othello, for April 25th.

© Eduardo Rui Alves

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