So, this was something that, as I wrote it, turned ever-darker. In the end, I would call the files surrounding this project, and mention it to my friends as 'Cursed Portugal', for just how cursed the whole thing became. What began as an idea for a mild dystopia ended up being a rather dark timeline that, nonetheless, morbidly fascinated me. In fact, it fascinated me to a point that, in writing the detailed backstory, I wrote five pages on a Word document, and even then I cut out a lot of interesting detail. Since I don't expect anyone to have close to as much interest in this small piece as myself, I will provide a tl:dr version
So, essentially, the failed coup of November 25 1975 suceeds, bringing forward a Soviet-aligned dictatorship in Portugal. In the chaos that follows, Spain invades and establishes an occupation zone, the US kicks forward Azorean indepedence and all that. Portugal's regime lasts until the 1989 Revolutions, in which a quiet transfer of power is put forward as Gorbachev pulls out from the East Bloc. Despite that, an armed struggle emerges between the new liberal regime and the loyalists of the two former dictatorships, claiming many lives in attacks throughout the country, a struggle that lasts until 1996, until the national situation is somewhat normalised.
And now, for the bravest one among you... Beware, for a most cursed of timelines is coming...
For the entirety of the thirteen years, eight months and five days of the Presidency of General Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, the period more formally known as the Third Portuguese Republic or the Third Republic , Portugal would be in a strange position, as being both the westernmost nation in the European continent, but also a fully-devoted member of the Eastern Bloc, even becoming the latest European republic to join the Warsaw Pact in 1980.
Called ‘the halfway station’ between Havana and Moscow, the small Republic would have to endure life surrounded by powers very much hostile to the existence of a socialist state in Western Europe, facing attempted coups, blockades and even invasions from its neighbours while internally dealing with the turmoil of having to take an economy stunted by thirty years of Salazarist agrarianism and have to, somehow, shape it into the industrial workers’ paradise its rulers promised it could be.
It would all begin on April 25, 1974 when, in a bloodless coup, the Carnation Revolution would bring down the fascist regime of the Estado Novo, which had been ruling the nation since 1933. After an entire generation born in the shadow of the reactionary, quasi-theocratic police State of Salazar and Caetano, it had been the unwinnable Colonial Wars, in which Portugal fought a war against the Zeitgeist itself for the sake of retaining its colonies, that had sent the military over the edge and had them depose the regime.
Over the following year and a half, the exiled Portuguese community would return, bringing with them the socialist and communist ideals they had acquired in foreign lands, while the liberal wing of the old regime would reinvent its image in social democracy, attempting to cast away the shadow of its past. Meanwhile, the Armed Forces Movement that had taken down the Estado Novo regime ruled the land, and some of its members were not exactly thrilled with the prospect of the left-turn the country was taking. Led by the new President of the Republic, General Spinola, two attempts at coups were thrown, one in September ’74 and the other in March ’75, the first forcing the General to renounce the Presidency and the second sending him to exile first in Spain and then in Brazil, from where he would lead the more reactionary factions of the Portuguese military through the Hot Summer of ’75.
On that summer, there were multiple confrontations between the more moderate and the more radical factions of the military forces, with rumblings from those still loyal to the fascist regime also making their voices heard. One thing was clear, though – the issue would not be settled without bloodshed.
And so, it was with very little surprise that the nation saw as, on November 25, 1975, General Otelo and his forces of the Continental Command took positions in Lisbon, with the Artillery Command taking over the Airport, the freeway exits and the military supply stores, and the Paratroops and Military Police taking over the broadcast agencies. In the afternoon, leading members of the Socialist Party, including General Secretary Mário Soares, were captured attempting to flee the capital. The Commands of Amadora, allied with the moderate parties, would attempt to break the hold on the capital, but would be pushed back by the occupying forces. During the following day, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party would both officially declare their support for the Revolution and, after another victory over the forces from the north, the besieged President Costa Gomes surrendered to the occupying forces.
A short civil war would follow afterwards, culminating in a battle in Rio Maior, where the Farmer Confederation of Portugal, allied with the Right, had cut the roads linking the North and South of the country. The moderate and Right coalition would fight one last time under Colonel Ramalho Eanes whose efforts of delaying the advancing forces would allow many prominent political leaders to escape to exile, before he himself leaving the country for the United States, with him falling the last remnants of the moderate forces in Portugal.
On the First of December 1975, a date in which Portugal celebrated the 335th anniversary of the Restoration of Independence, the properly-purged Council of Revolution, now heading some names from the November Revolution as well, acclaimed General Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho as the President of Portugal, proclaiming the People’s Republic in the process.
From December 31 to January 1, 1976, both the Socialist and the Communist Party would cease to exist, together with a collection of other left-wing parties, their leaders agreeing to merge them in a single Revolutionary Workers’ Party, while other parties, too right-wing for the tastes of the Council of Revolution, were outlawed, their leaders arrested and mostly executed, unless they could escape to exile under the wing of Ramalho Eanes.
At first, it was somewhat unclear which position the Revolutionary Workers’ Party would take. Its first Secretary-General and Prime-Minister, Mário Tomé, an active participant of the November Revolution, had belonged to the Popular Democratic Union, a party that had flirted with an Albanian-aligned position, Maoism and even Trotskyism. In the end, however, the path taken was chosen not by idealism, but by pragmatism.
In early 1976, Spanish forces invaded the Portuguese borders, wanting to contain the Portuguese Revolution. The Spanish military, still mostly controlled by the Francoist elements, had promptly overthrown the newly-anointed King Juan Carlos, declared a new Regency and erased all traces of the liberalising reforms of the deposed King, placing Antonio Tejero as the new Caudillo and, in fulfilling their promises to their constituents, promptly invaded Portugal, advancing far through the southern regions of Alentejo.
The Spanish Army reached as far as Grândola, before beginning to feel the unexpected effects of guerrilla warfare, launched by the fiercely communard Alentejo farmers who put the Spanish troops through the worst kind of hell as they tried to advance. Scorched Earth strategy was used with little regard to it being their own fields they were burning, and suicide missions abounded among the quickly-organised militias.
Meanwhile, international solidarity came, mostly from the East Bloc, but also from the supportive Left communities across the West, that saw the Portuguese Revolution as the shining example of the future to come. In Lisbon, Prime Minister-Mário Tomé announced on May 1 that he would be resigning his position to himself fight alongside his comrades to free his native city from ‘Spanish fascist occupation’. To many, however, this ‘resignation’, followed by the ascension of Álvaro Cunhal, former Communist Secretary-General, to the Premiership, was a thinly-veiled change of the guard to court a truly powerful ally – and so it was. During the May Day celebrations, Leonid Brezhnev would declare his support for the Portuguese Revolution in its struggle against Spanish fascism. At the same time, NATO was somewhat unsure of what to do since, for all it was worth, Spain, a non-member, had attacked Portugal, a member, thereby activating the clauses that demanded their full support.
In the end, after suffering defeats in its advances against Alcácer do Sal, the Spanish Caudillo and the Portuguese President would meet in New York, invited by US President Gerald Ford and, under the eyes of the world, sign a ceasefire that would allow the Spanish to keep an ‘occupation zone’ in southern Alentejo, a treaty hailed as a victory by each side.
Alongside the ceasefire with Spain, President Otelo would also sign a ceasefire with the newly-proclaimed Azorean Federative Republic which, after the November Revolution, had effectively been taken over by the Azorean Liberation Front, a militia that was widely known as being supported by the American forces stationed there, who had been prepared to fight tooth and nail against a Communist takeover of the vital archipelago halfway across the Atlantic. Portugal has still, however, not acknowledged the legitimacy of the Azorean nation.
The Portuguese People’s Republic was, after the peace with Spain and the Azores, a somewhat bipolar State, partly due to the power games between President Otelo and Prime Minister Cunhal. The former was a rather heterodox Communist , more populist that purist, while the latter had his entire life survived as the greatest communist in exile by adhering, without question, to the will of the Soviet Union, and defending at all costs, quite all costs, an orthodox view of Marxism-Leninism. This conflict would, despite remaining very civil, put Portugal often in the headlines of the world, wondering what exactly was the policy of its government.
The first, and perhaps most influential of said petit-crisis would occur when, while attending Mao Zedong’s funeral on September 18, 1976, declared in front of a few million people in a packed Tiananmen Square, and apparently without consulting anybody in the Portuguese government beforehand, declare, perhaps as a matter of condolences, immediately pass the jurisdiction of the city of Macao to the People’s Republic of China, a move that angered everyone, from the Prime-Minister, the British, the Soviets, the Americans and perhaps even the Chinese, who had to deal with having a very unruly, capitalist and Eurocentric city in their hands.
In domestic affairs, the situation would be more stable, in particular because Álvaro Cunhal was very stern in preventing President Otelo from getting his hands into the country. A favourite son of the Soviet Motherland, Portugal received around two billion dollars of investment to build and remodel the Portuguese factories, while each year it would receive around one billion in military help, which would be more than enough to ensure no further Spanish attacks.
Another form of control that provided stability were the Revolutionary Security Forces, the secret police force that was led by Mário Lino with a particular liking for surveillance systems. During the two decades following the fall of the regime, several new stories would pop out on how more microphones from the Lino era had been uncovered, in the least likely of locations.
The Cunhal Government was, if anything, an efficient, well-cogged machine, which knew its place in the world and knew the turf in which it was operating. Based on rural support from the farmers of Alentejo, the local government networks were the true source of power for the regime, allowing them eyes, ears and working hands on every corner of the country. This focus on local power and influence was, among other things, responsible to prevent the rise of any Solidarity-inspired movements and, according to many, it was what gave strength to the Popular Force through much of the 90s.
Despite this, however, the Portuguese People’s Republic could not hope to withstand the tide that was changing – through the early 80s, the East Bloc was falling to a deep crisis, with Polish Solidarity sending the country to a standstill and, as economies stagnated, calls for reform strengthened throughout the Soviet world. In 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev would rise to power, and would soon start talking about perestroika and glasnost – everything his predecessors, and by definition Cunhal, had fought against.
The rise of Gorbachev went badly to the Portuguese People’s Republic – in his attempts to restore the Soviet economy, he would withdraw much of the economic and military support to the East Bloc, Portugal included, essentially making the Portuguese economy collapse and bringing its armed forces to unrest. The scale of activities by the Revolutionary Security Forces would increase greatly throughout this period. At the same time, Gorbachev renounced the Brezhnev Doctrine of interfering with other Marxist-Leninist States, while introducing reforms in the Soviet Union which, to Cunhal, were intolerable.
Then, in 1989, the cracks would start showing in the walls Gorbachev had left unrepaired. The first was Poland. After nine years of struggles with Solidarity, the government finally relented to partly-free elections that saw Solidarity attain the vast majority of popular support and, through the summer of 1989, with approval of the Parliament and the silence of the Soviet Union, the first non-Communist Prime Minister of the East Bloc was installed in power. Following the Polish lead, East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia began negotiating with non-Communist parties, changing their constitutions and opening the Berlin Wall.
In Portugal, angry over the decadence of economic conditions since the withdrawal of Soviet support, over the increase of the terror of the police forces over the year and overall enjoying the opportunity to strike while weak, there were many protests over 1989, each of them stronger and angrier. To Cunhal in particular, this marked the beginning of the end. It was so that, in the shadows, he would begin his work salvaging what he could, of both himself, his cause and his work for the country. For, in any case, if Soviet Socialism was to be on Gorbachev’s terms, then it was not worthy having it at all.
And so it was that, on October 5 1989, during the celebrations of the 79th anniversary of the Portuguese Republic, shortly after raising the flag, as is tradition, in the City Assembly of Lisbon, President Otelo would announce that he would be, effective immediate, be stepping down from the Presidency of the Republic, so that the Council of Revolution could choose an interim President, to transition to a new constitutional era. Prime-Minister Cunhal would also take the opportunity to present his resignation, although he would continue heading the Government until a new President were to appoint a new one. A few days later, Otelo would be departing for Cuba.
The New Republic, acclaimed with much joy by many Portuguese citizens, and saluted by most of the Western democracies as a lost brother already, would begin that day. Five days later, the Council of Revolution would appoint General Costa Gomes as Interim President, returning the man who had been deposed by the November Revolution to power. By now an avowed pacifist, he would refuse to appoint a new government, but would work quickly to have free democratic elections for both the Assembly and the Presidency, not wanting to hold this obviously poisoned chalice more than strictly necessary.
December 1st was chosen as the Day to Restore Democracy. Through the months after the resignation of Otelo, many of the exile community, vibrant from the liberal ideas that now dominated Europe, returned to lead the political life of the country, led by their own Messiah, Colonel Ramalho Eanes, the man whose efforts had allowed the escape of so many targets of the regime. As the people looked at him, the living symbol of hope, to lead them, Eanes announced the founding of his new political party – the Democratic Renewal Party, a big tent party of mostly social-liberal tendencies with some social democratic elements, with the scales of Justice as its symbol. In the end of the day, the Democratic Renewal Party would win the overwhelming majority of 235/250 seats, with the newly-reformed (but mostly just renamed) Communist Party winning 9 of the remaining seats, the rest going to small, local lists.
Cunhal would immediately resign his position, returning to his Parisian exile not much later, dedicating the rest of his life to the arts. President Costa Gomes would appoint Ramalho Eanes for Prime-Minister, but this was not a position he held for long, as the Presidential elections were soon after called, with General Costa Gomes refusing to take part on them.
Ramalho Eanes enters the race, supported by a very enthusiastic crowd, while the remnants of the old Revolutionary Workers’ Party gather around Mário Soares, an old Socialist leader whom they hope could bring an image of moderation to the party. That failed miserably, however, with Mário Soares actually coming third against a surprisingly and worrying popular run by Duarte Pio de Bragança, the monarchist claimant to the Portuguese Crown. None of them, however, were even close of competing to the 72% majority gained by the Colonel.
As his replacement as Prime-Minister, President Eanes appointed Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, a Democratic Renewal politician who had been in government during the short period between the April and November Revolutions, having been in Paris as Ambassador to UNESCO during the latter, in a position that had made her a spokesperson for the Portuguese exile community. These two individuals would, for the next years, lead the Fourth Portuguese Republic, as they coined it, through the turbulent times ahead.
Despite all the efforts, true-hearted or not, of allowing for a peaceful transition towards democracy in Portugal, as tensions rose, between the old ruling classes (both of the fascist and the communist regimes) and the new liberal-minded one, but also between the popular supporters of the fascist regime, the communist one and the new liberalism, especially as the former two resented their fall from grace and blamed each other for it. As days passed, the police forces were sent increasingly rushed to the streets, as disagreements boiled into pre-fights, and whispers talked of ever more vicious things.
In the shadows, various armed groups began assembling, made of small circles with shared beliefs, mostly extreme. As the months progressed, many of those small circles joined together, forming two large confederacies in each side - the 25th April People Fronts, the largest group of supporters of the Otelo regime, a fiercely antifascist and anticapitalistic group with a mixture of both orthodox Marxist-Leninists, Maoists and Trotskyists, barely coordinating among each other at times, but joined in their hatred of their enemies – and the Alliance of Restorers of National Honour, an also somewhat ill-managed coalition with both older Salazarist supporters, led by agents of PIDE, the former political police of the Estado Novo, meaning piously Catholic, nationalistic and isolationist, and a younger and more fervent youth wing of skin-headed neo-Nazi metalheads, influenced by a very particularly dark subculture of the West, which didn’t particularly liked each other either, but found some use in cooperation. Some particular stubborn groups also remained outside those confederacies, although cooperating at times, forming what the Portuguese media formed as the Revolutionary Brigades on the left.
Who exactly was leading or sponsoring those groups, if indeed anyone was, is still debated fiercely by historians. A common view today is that there weren’t really any leaders, and that both the People Fronts and the Restorers formed from grassroot movements, at a community level. Others, however, liked to blame General Otelo, who seems to have been in Cuba throughout the entirety of the Democratic Restoration Era, casting doubts to that particular accusation.
Finally, after various months of boiling, things blew up, as most predicted, and the first incident, in Cacém, on the peripheries of Lisbon, when a military officer was killed in an attempted bank robbery by the People Fronts. This would be followed by a wave of attacks, from both the People Fronts and the Restorers, throughout the country, but also in the Azorean Republic and in the disputed city of Olivenza under Spanish control, as various cities, institutions and individuals were targeted.
Explosives were often used, making great damages to infrastructure. The Popular Fronts applied methods such as shooting for the legs of targets, in particular business owners who mistreated their workers, a practice that left them in agony and damaged, rather than dead. The Restorers would often attack the emission towers to block the television networks in the country. Both sides would attack embassies and consulates of nations they considered as enemies, most prominently the United States and the Soviet Union. And, of course, they tried to burn down the meeting points of their enemies, in the process causing many collateral victims.
The Presidency of Ramalho Eanes would be committed to the combat against these groups, as their wave of chaos and destruction peaked during the early 90s, only to slowly, perhaps by effect of the combat by the law enforcement agencies, headed by the President himself, perhaps due to sheer loss of interest and motivation by its actors, which saw their petty acts of terror do little in terms of weakening the Fourth Republic, but rather strengthen its resolve, begin faltering, with both the Popular Fronts and the Restorers, despite never officially surrendering and dissolving, virtually ceasing operations by 1996, after which most attacks claimed by such groups were considered as mere acts of vandalism by copycats.
In those years, of the Democratic Restoration or, as the most pessimist liked to call it, The Troubles, dozens of major attacks were performed, coupled with hundreds of smaller group assaults and a few thousand attacks on individuals, resulting in the deaths of thousands from the militias, the police and military, and of course from the civilian population, caught in the middle of an undeclared civil war. Through those years, many Portuguese citizens would emigrate to the newly-opened West, joining their diaspora brothers in France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada and Brazil, increasing the population of the Portuguese Diaspora in those countries while reducing the population of the Motherland itself.
Ramalho Eanes would serve the full pair of six-year terms the new Constitution of 1990, that he supervised, allowed him, finally retiring from his long presidency after the elections of 2002, which saw his also veteran Prime-Minister, Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, replace him with a strong advantage herself. Through the Eanes Presidency, the Democratic Renewal Party would, despite rising tensions, remain intact and dominant in all sectors of Portuguese society, effectively as the dominant party in Portuguese politics. With the retirement of Eanes, however, and the ascension of Pintasilgo to the Presidency, the centrifugal forces within the Party kicked in, prompting it to an era of confusion until 2004 when, mourning the death of President Pintasilgo, and a faction disliking the ascension of Prime Minister Pedro Santana Lopes to the Interim Presidency, as the Constitution of 1990 called for, led to the Democratic Renewal Party being amicably dissolved in that year, with its deputies flocking mostly to the new Civic Democratic Party, representing the more social-liberal and internationalist position, and the Portuguese Nationalist Party, representing the more conservative wing.
In the early 2000s, Portuguese politics would somewhat settle, between the ever-changing rule of either the CDP or the PNP, and also the quite small April Front, led by Miguel Portas, the only left-wing party represented in the Assembly. The CDP would be led, until his 2014 death, by José Medeiros Ferreira, a diplomat very close to Ramalho Eanes whose work at the Premiership would finish their decades-long effort to ascend Portugal to NATO and to the Council of Europe, while the PNP would be led by Hermínio Martinho, another close friend of Eanes.
After enduring sixty-three years of dictatorships and repression, an entire generation of infighting as dictators rose and fall, and went from fascism to socialism, and keeping the country closed and isolated, in its own little corner of the world they fought fiercely over, Portugal seemed to, at last, joining the rest of the nations in striking forward in liberal democracy. The Terror had passed, slowly, from memory to history and, as the new millennium dawned, so did a new era for the tiny European nation and all remaining from it.
But, of course, as pessimistic as always, should you ask a random Portuguese citizen on the street if he believed that this stability was meant to last, you’d very probably get the very laconic answer of ‘no’. No it won’t.
 Some historians, among them CDP leader Rui Tavares, prefer to claim the title of Third Republic for the short-lived and turbulent period between the April Revolution and the November Revolution, but those are a clear minority, with the People’s Republic, Democratic Restoration governments claiming the title of Third and Fourth Republics respectively
 According to Vasco Pulido Valente, Social Communication Minister under Cunhal and infamous author of My Grandfather’s Dream
, the rather sardonic-toned memoirs of his times during the Otelo Presidency, the President would ‘drift between Mao and Trotsky, whenever his whim told him Guevara, whose spectre he had worship since 74, always muttering nonsense on international solidarity and the dictatorship of the proletariat’