Sparking the Carnation Revolution: National Liberation and Socialist Solidarity in Africa

On 25 April 1974, the Carna­tion Revo­lu­tion brought Portugal’s almost 50-year-long mili­tary dicta­tor­ship to an end. One major conse­quence was the with­dra­wal of Portu­guese troops from the country’s colo­nies in Africa and the subse­quent foun­ding of new sove­reign states such as Angola, Mozam­bi­que, and Guinea-Bissau. Yet an aspect that is rarely explo­red in histo­ri­cal accounts of the Carna­tion Revo­lu­tion is the role played by the natio­nal libe­ra­tion move­ments in Africa in weak­e­ning Portu­guese fascism and crea­ting the condi­ti­ons in which progres­sive mili­tary offi­cers could over­throw the Estado Novo regime. Today it is also often forgot­ten that while the capi­ta­list West prop­ped up Portu­guese colo­nia­lism with funds and weapons, the socia­list East was arming and trai­ning libe­ra­tion figh­ters in Africa.


This dossier reflects on the Carna­tion Revo­lu­tion from three diffe­rent perspec­ti­ves: an eye-witness account of the poli­ti­cal situa­tion in Portu­gal during and after the Revo­lu­tion; an analy­sis of how the socia­list states supported the armed struggle of the Libe­ra­tion Front of Mozam­bi­que (FRELIMO); and an inter­view with a member of the Afri­can Party for the Inde­pen­dence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC) whose fight against Portu­guese colo­nia­lism took the form of educa­tion and profes­sio­nal trai­ning in socia­list East Germany.