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The fall of the Caetano government

Operation SavannahIn 1968 Salazar suffered a stroke from which he was not to recover. He died in 1970.  It became the task of President Thomàz to appoint a successor. His choice was once again a professor, this time in the studies of law, one Marcello Caetano of the University of Coimbra, who was more liberal than his predecessor. He implemented reforms cautiously. Angola and Mozambique got the titles of “States” rather than “Provinces” and also more autonomy. For the first time, elections were held in Angola. Only those who could read and write could vote and that even excluded many Portuguese.

If the reform measures of Caetano had the chance to develop further, the history of Portugal might have gone in another direction. More time to gain wisdom was not afforded it. There were too much unrest in the Portuguese community and unrest against the regime from left and right.

Salazar saw the Portuguese kingdom as one undividable unit, consisting of the motherland, (the Metropole in Europe) and the overseas provinces or states (the Ultramar, across the sea). This unit, which Salazar tried to convince himself and the rest of the world of, never became a reality. The distance between Metropole and Ultramar just could not be ignored, just as the distance between Europe and Africa could not be willed away. As the war progressed, the tension increased until something had to break. This break did not occur in the Ultramar, but did in the Metropole, with the fall of the Caetano regime. The Portuguese army was not defeated in the overseas areas. But in Portugal itself, the realisation dawned that the war could not be won...


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Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET

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