Reliving the 48 hours of the coup in Pontinha

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The Lusa news agency has twice brought together the men who, from a “shed” in the Pontinha barracks, on the outskirts of Lisbon, led April 25, the coup that overthrew Europe’s longest dictatorship.

First, on the 20th anniversary, in 1994, and on the initiative of two Lusa journalists, Rui Cabral and Luís Pinheiro de Almeida, authors of a magazine published by the agency about the captains’ coup, the six soldiers got together.

Never since 1974 had Sanches Osório, Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, Fisher Lopes Pires, Vítor Crespo, Hugo dos Santos and Garcia dos Santos come together again, and certainly not in the “shed” of the Armed Forces Movement (MFA) Command Post.

In a long conversation, they recalled the 48 hours of tension leading up to the fall of the regime, but also some caricatured episodes – the movement had forgotten to go and arrest the deposed President of the Republic, Américo Thomaz.

The text with the six soldiers was published in a magazine published by Lusa, “25 de Abril – Memórias”, which also included an interview with Marshal António de Spínola.

“I hold Marcello Caetano totally responsible for all the excesses of the Revolution,” said Spínola at the time, who criticized the head of government who was deposed on April 25, 1974, for not having taken into account “the calls for peace” he had made in his book “Portugal and the Future”.

“I hold Prof. Marcello Caetano fully responsible for all the excesses that took place during and after the Revolution, which, in my opinion, could have been avoided,” he said.

Then, in 2014, Lusa brought the Pontinha soldiers back together, but without two of them, who had since died, Fisher Lopes and Hugo dos Santos.

Once again, the four men went through their memories in a space that, even then, was a museum in which each of them was represented in life-size wax figures in uniform.

From that conversation came the news that the MFA had a plan B if the April 25 coup had failed.

“Plan B resulted in this: the Azores and Guinea. The guys were prepared to seize and arrest the high-ranking officials there, announce to the government that they were under arrest and [demand] that the government leave,” said Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, the strategist of April 25.

Today, Lusa is re-editing the film of the events from the reunion in 2014 of the six soldiers from the Command Post, updating it with new elements not published at the time.

Of the original group, and after the death of Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho and Vítor Crespo, Garcia dos Santos and Sanches Osório are still alive.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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