On April 25, 1974, Portugal experienced a coup like no other. In an era characterized by the clash of ideologies and power players, the nearly bloodless revolution became known as the Carnation Revolution. What began as a military revolution led by the Movimento das Forças Armadas (MAF) quickly became a mass movement of civil unrest.
Dictator Marcello Caetano resisted the independence of Portuguese colonies for as long as possible, forcing soldiers to take de-colonization efforts into their own hands. Much of the planning for the revolution took place outside the country, in places like Angola, Guinea Bissau and Mozambique. The Carnation Revolution led to tensions in Portuguese-U.S. relations as the American government believed a Communist victory was imminent. The revolution ended in the peaceful overthrow of Caetano and the Estado Novo or the Second Republic, which had been the installed in 1933 and was the longest surviving regime in Western Europe.
The Carnation Revolution introduced a new Constitution, the end of Portuguese colonialism, as well as civil liberties which had previously been banned under Caetano’s government. Today, April 25 is celebrated as Portuguese Freedom Day and is also the name of Lisbon’s version of the Golden Gate Bridge.