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Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, 84, Dies; Key Figure in Portugal Revolt

Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, 84, Dies; Key Figure in Portugal Revolt
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Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, 84, Dies; Key Figure in Portugal Revolt

Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, 84, Dies; Key Figure in Portugal Revolt

Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, a Portuguese army officer who helped organize the almost bloodless overthrow of his country’s dictatorship in 1974 and who then served a prison sentence for inciting terrorism, died on 25 July in a military hospital in Lisbon. He was 84 years old.

His death was confirmed by his son, Sergio, who did not cite a cause but said his father had had heart problems.

Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho, widely known by his first name, was one of the officers who planned and led the ousting of the right-wing dictatorship in Portugal on April 25, 1974, paving the way for the country’s return to democracy. The coup became known as the Carnation Revolution after jubilant citizens adorned soldiers’ rifles with red carnations.

Much of the revolution was sparked by discontent within the military; the regime had forced soldiers to fight the African independence movements in the colonized countries of Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. After the coup, Portugal’s colonial rule quickly ended and all three countries gained independence.

Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho’s career then took a whole new turn. He turned to politics and ran for president twice, losing decisively each time. He then served a prison sentence, convicted for his association with a left-wing terrorist organization that sought to undermine the very democracy he once defended.

Otelo Nuno Romão Saraiva de Carvalho was born on August 31, 1936 in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), the capital of Mozambique. It was named after a grandfather, Otelo, who had been an actor. His mother, Fernanda Áurea Pegado Romão, was a physiotherapist nurse and theater lover, born in Goa, India, a former Portuguese colony. His father, Eduardo Saraiva de Carvalho, worked for the colonial post office in Portugal.

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After attending the school in Lourenço Marques, Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho went to Lisbon to enlist in the Portuguese military academy in 1955. Six years later, he was deployed to Angola as a captain. artillery in the fight against the guerrillas in search of independence. He was then sent to Guinea-Bissau, to fight mainly leftist guerrillas in the struggle for independence.

Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho had already developed sympathy for independence movements while growing up in Mozambique, his son, Sergio, said. And he came back from his frontline experience in Africa convinced that the Portuguese colonialist dictatorship of four decades had to be overthrown.

After returning to Portugal in 1973, he began planning a coup d’état with rebel officers calling themselves the Armed Forces Movement. Their Carnation Revolution ended in less than 24 hours, starting shortly after midnight when a radio station broadcast the left-wing song “Grandola” as a signal to trigger the coup. It ended in the evening, when the Armed Forces Movement announced the surrender of Prime Minister Marcello Caetano, who had taken refuge in a military barracks in Lisbon.

Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho was hailed as a national hero and promoted to the head of the internal security forces as social unrest and political tensions mounted; conservatives feared that Portugal would become a communist state in the midst of the cold war.

But when he sought to turn his status as a national savior into political success, he failed. He ran for two presidential elections, first in 1976, when he was far behind another military officer, António Ramalho Eanes, and then four years later when he won just 1.5% voices.

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In his 1980 candidacy, he formed a coalition of small far-left political groups, calling it the Popular Unity Force. In the same year, a terrorist group known as the Popular Forces of April 25, or FP-25, was formed, and Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho and his coalition were accused by the authorities of being a front for this news. threat of local terrorism. The FP-25 carried out bombings in Portugal and was held responsible for the deaths of 14 people in the 1980s.

Although he denied any involvement in the group, Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho was tried in 1985, accused of being the “intellectual author” of the terrorist attacks. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison but was released after five years. In 1996, the Portuguese Parliament voted his pardon along with several others who had been condemned for the activities of the FP-25. Pardons were promoted by President Mário Soares as a gesture of democratic reconciliation.

“We are talking about a person who played a very important role in the end of the dictatorship, but who then fought liberal democracy with violence,” said by email Nuno Gonçalo Poças, lawyer and newspaper columnist who has writes a book on the terrorism trial. Most Portuguese, he said, “know that they can thank Otelo for some things and not forgive him for others”.

After his release from prison, Mr Saraiva de Carvalho remained true to his leftist views and regretted that the 1974 revolution had not transformed the country into the socialist state he had envisioned. In 2011, when Portugal was forced to agree to an international bailout amid the European debt crisis, he called on the military to take charge of the country rather than allow international creditors to shape its economy. and undermine the sovereignty of Portugal.

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After his death, some former officers who took part in the Carnation Revolution called on the country’s current socialist government to declare a national day of mourning. But Prime Minister António Costa refused, telling reporters that it would not have been “consistent” to grant Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho such an honor when other key protagonists of the revolution had seen it. refuse.

“It is still too early for history to judge him with the necessary distance,” Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said in a statement.

Besides his son, Mr. Saraiva de Carvalho is survived by his daughter, Maria Paula, and his partner, Maria Filomena Morais, a prison official whom he met during his imprisonment in the 1980s. Another daughter, Claudia, died of malaria at age 9. His wife, Dina Maria Afonso Alambre, whom he married in 1960, died in December.

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