A Campus Yuste Course Analyses the Changes in Portugal After the Carnation Revolution

Journalists, writers, historians, photographers, literary critics, and academics make up the panel of speakers for the course “Portugal, 1974: Society, Culture, and Literature in the Carnation Revolution”, which was inaugurated today at the Monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste. The course is organised by the European and Ibero-American Academy of Yuste Foundation in collaboration with the University of Évora. This course is part of the training offered by Campus Yuste, which is integrated in the 25th edition of the University of Extremadura’s Summer/Autumn International Courses. (2/07/2024).

At the inauguration, Isabel Belloso, director of the Extremaduran Agency of International Cooperation for Development (AEXCID) and member of Yuste Foundation’s board of trustees, stated that the impact of the Portuguese Revolution not only brought freedom to the country but also represented “hope for a Spain that was experiencing the final throes of the Franco regime”. In her view, this closeness became even more evident with the entry of both countries into the European Economic Community, now the European Union.

Meanwhile, Antonio Sáez, director of the Iberian Studies Chair and co-director of the course, affirmed that on 25th April 1974, Portugal “embraced its future” as people began to speak of freedom and democracy, adding that no other Portuguese event has had such a significant impact on Spain as the Carnation Revolution. With this course, he said, “we are going to renew the vows of that cry for freedom and democracy”.

This course serves as a meeting point to delve into a significant historical event that led to a renewing process of Portuguese institutions and the State. In this regard, María Teresa Terrón, vice-rector of University Extension at the University of Extremadura, stated during her speech that it is important to analyse the recent past to build a better future. She said, that “it becomes an obligation for institutions committed to the advancement of contemporary society”. In her opinion, the conclusions of the course will help review events that marked the beginning of what is now contemporary Portugal, which runs almost parallel to the Spanish transition.

According to the Spanish ambassador to Portugal, Juan Fernández Trigo, the days April 25th of 1974, 1975, and 1976 marked Portugal’s future. The first date is significant because of the coup by the captains that initiated a revolutionary process; the second because of the elections to the constituent assembly to draft the Constitution; and the third, because of the first legislative elections. All these efforts, he claimed, “led Portugal to create a stable democracy”.

During his speech, the Portuguese ambassador to Spain, João Mira-Gomes, recalled the importance of Yuste and Extremadura to Portugal, noting the participation of the Portuguese president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and prime minister António Costa in the ceremony of the 2023 Carlos V European Award, which was then delivered to Portuguese António Guterres, the UN secretary-general.

To conclude, Mira-Gomes invited reflection on the meaning of the word freedom because, in his opinion, “societies without memory contribute to the return of dark periods in history, the establishment of new dictatorships, and the suppression of freedom”. He, therefore, announced that Spain and Portugal have agreed to jointly celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of their democratic transitions starting this September because this change also opened the door to the European Economic Community.

The course “Portugal, 1974: Society, Culture, and Literature in the Carnation Revolution” features twenty-two speakers from Spain, Portugal, Italy, Poland, Mexico, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Argentina. Additionally, over one hundred students from twenty-five countries have registered.