Page 6, 26th July 1963

26th July 1963
Page 6
Page 6, 26th July 1963 — A TALK WITH SALAZAR

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Hugh Kay of the Catholic Herald becomes the first British journalist in many years to secure a newspaper interview with the Portuguese leader, Dr. Salazar. It happened in Lisbon last week, on the eve of the African states' attack, in the Security Council, on Portuguese policy in Africa. American public opinion, as opposed to the U.S. government, is revising its attitudes in favour of Portugal. As part of the attempt to understand the latest trends, this interview seeks to present Salazar the man and the thinker to a British society that knows him only as a shadow.


IMET Dr Antonio De Oliveira Salazar last week in his simple, unguarded home in Lisbon. It was a brilliant afternoon outside, but the drawing room, with its heavy tapestries. was curtained, and the room was dimly lit.

This was the home of one of the most remarkable men of our age, a shadowy figure with small taste for personal publicity. the despair of those who would have him gloss the truth.

In a few minutes we were shaking hands. and there he was — the quiet, scholarly man with a wry humour and an iron will, the curious blend of sceptical austerity and warm humanity, the courtesy of a more spacious age, the didactic mind of a pre-Keynesian economist who worked a financial miracle in Europe's poorest country.

It must be many years since an English journalist saw him like this, and it was hard to realise that this was the man who gave his country unity and stability for the first time since the days of Henry the Navigator.

As a personality he is hardly known in Britain. To his admirers he is a man with a mystique, the incarnation of the Portuguese sense of mission. To his domestic critics, an archaic conservative. To foreign enemies, the archdictator, the genocidal oppressor of the African.

For many years, he was praised in this country. Under his leadership, Portugal rediscovered her dignity and was accepted into NATO when Spain was not. Then overnight, with the "Santa Maria" incident and the Angolan rebellion, the image changed.

A few days before the renewed attack in the Security Council on Portugal's Africa policy, here was the elderly man in the buttoned boots, Prime Minister for 36 years, unwavering in his own vision.


He rests massively on two grounds for reassurance. Last year, the International Labour Organisation cleared the Portuguese of the charge of slave labour, applauded the socioeconomic evolution in Angola and Mozambique, testified to freedom of expression. Now a new report, by the World Health Organisation. reveals that. in some respects, the Portuguese achievement in Africa outstrips our own.

We discussed the claim that Portugal's overseas provinces are not to be seen as colonies but as a projection of Portugal herself in multi-racial societies. This, she would argue, has more authenticity than anticolonial campaigns which. under the guise of the fight for freedom, aim to create a neo-colonial structure through aid and control of business and the unions.

Must the good of be peeele, she asks, be subordinated to a slogan? Do the people themselocs really want this?

My own suggestion was that this approach might be replaced by a Portuguese Commonwealth of Nations, preserving organic unity, yet going some way to meet the trends of African nationalism. Angola could be to Portugal what Australia is to Britain.

Dr. Salazar replied that recent changes in the Organic Law had paved the way for greater local autonomy. But he added: " Whoever seeks to study the constitutional evolution of the Portuguese nation with an open mind will note that we have always known how to accompany the evolution and the progress of our territories and our populations by adopting constitutional structures appropriate to their various phases of development.

" We have persistently held that this development. in order to be real and lasting, must take stock. not of political pi agress in the abstract, but essentially of the sociological evolution, for it is the latter that gives solidity to the former, and not vice versa.

If we view the problem honestly, as we must since it concerns the future and well being of human soca:lice. and not only the service of slogans in vogue, we will have to admit that a Portuguese community of nations was established, and very well established, with Brazil, but that a similar relationship could not he established with the Portuguese overseas territories (as they are today), "Such a relationship would presuppose a political independence with the following immediate results: firstly, the small territories would he annexed by others who covet them for economic or strategic motives; secondly, the big provinces of Angola and Mozambique would not be able to maintain the unity necessary for the existence of sovereign states, given the many contradictory interests whieh, by themselves or by the influence of external factors, would disturb its life.

" lf, in relation to Portuguese Africa, we make the necessary distinction between some ambitious elements aided and paid by foreigners and the will of the mass of the populations (in Angola and Mozambique), we see that the latter know only the unity of the Portuguese nation, which is capable of taking on various forms according to the conditions of development of the territories."

Dr. Salazar's language is not easy, and his public utterances have something of the abstract metaphysician about them. But it is through careful examination of his quietly reasoning periods that one catches a glimpse of a personality unknown to the TV screen.

I asked him whether the co-operative structures and the social welfare enterprises of the army in Angola represented the development of a new political philosophy. I reminded him that parallels are often drawn with Roman inspiration, but that, to some people. the continuing presence of an army in Angola is a source of profound disturbance. He answered : The army "The co-operative structures are adjusted to the nature of the problems of production and to the characteristics of the social milieu, and we have thus set up an efficient and useful system in some parts of Angola and particularly in Mozambique,

" As regards the social action of the army in Angola, there is no doubt that it is noteworthy. chiefly in the fields of instruction (education) and of health. This action has developed to such an extent in these two domains that our official statistics have fallen behind the reality.

" Thus the figures of literacy and preventive treatment (medicine), to mention only two examples, are already much higher than those resulting from the activity of the official services of instruction and of health.

" Although a big number of the soldiers who completed their two years' service have either remained in Angola or

ssish to return thither after a stay in the home territory. it Mould not perhaps he exact to establish a parallel with the Roman concept of colonisation, centred around the legions.

" The reason is that we have never sought. nor do we now seek. to impose a presence by force; the army is in Angola only to repel attacks launched from outside and to protect the populations from the mercenary hordes which are being organised there (in the Congo) with the support of tribal rivalries, which have no national significance for Angolans.

" As such, it will be maintained only so long as the situation demands, notwithstanding the fact that, as experience shows, white settlement always develops with military action."

It is true that most Africans in Portuguese territory are far more willing to accept Portugal's presence than the world will allow. The 1961 flare-up was an invasion, not an uprising. But with education mounting by 15 per cent per annum. an increasingly tutored African weight in world public opinion. and is ingenious enough to seek to further its interests as the biggest Western power by fostering the adoption thy other countries) of identical political regimes.

" Hence it is that the new Asian and African states present themselves as democratic states. We know that, at bottom, they fulfil only that part of democracy which it is possible for them to achieve, and at times a very small part.

" But European countries are more subject to that pressure which flows more from the prestige of words than from the essential characteristics of the system. Many would be afraid to say that they are not democrats after the British or the American manner. They would be immediately suspect in international life.

"'The Russians and their satellites sought to solve the problem by practising totalitarianism and calling it popular democracy. If we, among seek to maintain the stability and efficiency of government. we have to preserve as much as possible the constitutional features of authoritarianism.

" This, however, seems compatible with the expansion of the exercise of certain funda and Christian Democratic parties, in fact the formation of a quasi-democratic infrastructure. if not an outright parliamentary system as Britain knows it.

"They would ask for the development of free trade unions and cultural groups, and for the various social classes to have fair and true consultative status on genuinely representa. tive councils of state, Can you offer any hope for such aspirations?"

This was Dr. Salazar's reply:

The system

"I do not think It can be said with justice that participation in national life is not open to all men of good will. Otherwise it would lead to the absurdity of thinking that the existing political institutions have always been served by the same persons during the last 3U years.

The truth, however, is exactly the contrary. The institutions have shown an exceptional capacity for attracting the younger generation, for making use of new talents, for opening out a vast field of action and of experiment for new ideas and new techniques.

" It is interesting to mention that, in a political regime which think that it is possible to satisfy all the aspirations of the various sections of opinion which have a single common trait among them: love of the country and the desire to ensure that the Portuguese society continues to be a profoundly human and Christian society.

" But this may • not please those who. being educated in the principles of party politics. think that they will be able to act efficaciously only through legal recognition of parties."

I then raised the question of social services. The organisation of a state welfare system in Portugal lags far behind the Spanish achievement. and much depends on family solidarity and a paternalist charity which is generous but haphazard.

A book could be written on the medical profession's voluntary service of the poor, and the facts of family solidarity. extending to outer collateral rings. are extremely edifying. But I asked Dr. Salazar: Socialism

"Cannot more be done towards the establishment of a state welfare system in Portugal? What plans are there for development of the more depressed agricultural areas?"

Dr. Salazar said : " Not so long ago. I had occasion to say that, if we succeed in continuing to work and to make progress in a climate of internal peace. we can shortly enter upon a phase of our development in which the tempo of our social policy will increasingly approach the objectives which we desire. And these — nobody has any right to doubt it — are none other than the progress and well being of our populatians without discrimination of rase. colour or religion.

" As regards agricultural development, I refer especially to the vast plan, now under way, of irrigation of one of our main lariat zones, the Alentejo. This plan, when completed. will profoundly change not only the agriculture of the region. but also the living standard of the populations.

" In the other areas, both in the metropolitan and in the overseas territories, we are working actively in accordance with regional development plans which include diversification of cultures, forestation a n d marketing. We have well founded hopes that, within a few years, the results of these efforts, which are, as a matter of fact, in line with the development plans initiated in 1953, will make themselves felt. whenever its activity is such as to hamper the activity of the enemy, whose first effort is to discredit the organs which every state is compelled to use to ensure its existence arid stability, particularly in such troubled times as those through which we are living.

" When these criticisms come to us from non-Communist circles, we must aonclude that there is a dangerous softening up in the face of the psychological war which the Communiet circles are conducting, and of which many people of good faith have not the slightest inkling. The following case may be cited: " Many years ago we set tip in one of the Cape Verde Islands a prison establishment for political and social offenders — Communists, that is. Because of local difficulties which affected the proper running of the establishment, it was closed down, also maas years ago. It so happens. however, that I still receive from Communist parties and the like in the most diverse countries telegrams protesting against the 'Tarrafal Camp'.

" Recently, we gave all

facilities to one of your countrymen, an illustrious jurist whose doubts were as gensime as his seriousness and good faith, to make a private investigation into the conditions in Portuguese jails, and of the persons interned them.

" Few countries, including even those which proclaim themselves as above criticism in their practice of democratic principle, would be dfspased to open to a foreigner the doors which were opened in Portugal to Lord Russell of Liver. pool.

" As a result of his investigation. Lord Russell published an article in the Daily Te!egraph of July S. I believe that those who wish to arrive at the truth will learn more from the statements of an impartial and highly qualified observer than from anything I could say."

The crux And what of the future? Over the past two years, a stream of American journalists have visited Angola and returned home with favourable accounts. Two of the most notable examples were the liberal Washington Post and the Negro newspaper the Pittsburgh Courier.

Writers like Andrew F. Westwood and Pieter Lessing have plainly established that the apparent uprising was really an invasion, stemming from the Potekhin blueprint for COMrraTT;s1 policy in Africa, and heralded by six montns solid radio propaganda from Moscow, Peking. Prague and Bucharest: In spite of savage intimidation by terrorists, less than threequarters of one per cent of Angolans answered the call.

Many thousands of words have been written testifying to the dynamism of morent Angolan development and the vast multi-racial experiment for the peasant proprietors of the Limpopo valley — a massive piece of reclamation from what was, six years ago, just one huge swamp.

But, as an African diplomat recently put it to a Portuguese colleague at the U.N. " It doesn't matter if Angola is the seventh heaven; we want you out." The crux of the matter is here. The paramount issue is Pan-Africa, not internal conditions in Angola.

The M.S.

Public opinion in the United States has veered considerably in favour of Portugal since the days of Mennen Williams's famous cry of " Africa for the Africans."

But the U.S. government remains pledged to " anti colonial ism." The Angolan insurgents in the Congo are helped by the unofficial American Committee on Africa, and even by the AFL-CIO labour federation, which recently sent Mr. Irving Brown to Leopoldville There is, however, within the United States as elsewhere in the West, a growing question

mark about " anti-colonialism."

There are the usual anxieties about the quality of African leadership, the interplay of the rival African blocs, problems of tribe versus nation. intertribal feuding, the inflammatory challenge of Addis Ababa, Afro-Asian domination in the U.N., and events in Ghana, Guinea, the Congo, Kenya and the Sudan.

More important than any of these is the effect of African self-consciousness on racial tensions inside the lJnited States themselves.

The nobler element in this is the realisation that in the age when the world is struggling to re-discover its centre, the concept of multi-racialism is a precious one, too good to discard, too necessary to human nature to be written off as impracticable.

It is also being realised that multi-racialism is as nothing if confined to the Council Chamber. or if it me .ele means the tolerated coexistence within the same country of a white and a black community, each with the same rights under the law.

On that principle, even Ghana etaims to nc a multi

I ac i a I sos itty Run nohody is convinced. The truth is that, to be real. multaracial:sm is something that has to be lived at grass raots level, something

endemic to the ordinary lives of ordinary people.

Not even Port -Tars sternest critics have denied that the Portuguese, by history, tradition and temperament, are uniquely geared to inter-racial living. They ha ee done it for centuries and one only has to point to the high proportion of people of mixed blood in their present and former territories.

Many African leaders, forced by the emotions of the moment to hold their peoples together by the call of Pan-Africa, realise that a genuine multi-racial ideal is the healthiest hope for Africa's future.

This is particularly true of former French Africa. where internal racial relations are sound, and whose leaders left the Addis Ababa conference to talk to General De Gaulle about it all.

The Congolese government, after the conference, formally recognised the Angolan rebels in their territory as the official Angolan government in exile.

Paradoxically, however, it wishes to maintain diplomatic relations with Portugal, unlike Egypt and Ethiopia, which broke them off.

The myth This is partly explained by the Congo's urgent need of the Benguela Railway and the mouth of the Congo river which the Portuguese control. But, in a country which has known the full horrors of tribal warfare, there is more to it than this.

There is an obvious distinction between Portuguese Africa and the South African Republic. Nor, contrary to rumour, is there any viable agreement between the two.

Recent attempts were made, in spite of the sharply differing ethnic concepts of the two countries, to find some kind of common ground, and the South African foreign minister went to Lisbon for the purpose. The talks . failed miserably.

Agreements with South Africa have to be on South African terms. Theirs is a stiffnecked government, and the wiser African leaders throughout the continent know better, in private at least, than to tar Portugal with the same brush. What they say in the United Nations is not the same as what they say behind closed doors, and it is known that some African statesmen have privately told the Portuguese to hang on.

Adoula, who knows only too well prefer the devil he knows the southern half of the continent would mean to him, may well what another flare-up in to the legion that might replace it.

Wherever the fault lies, the Angolan Africans are not yet capable of running their own show. The machinery for growth has now been supplied. When the people become more educated, their aspirations will increase. The question is whether these can be satisfied before an explosion in the South African Republic spills across the border and blows the whole thing sky high.

Pressure from othcr African states may produce nothing decisive, in the military sense, for a decade. The essential factor in Portuguese Africa is its own internal political evolution.

.Does Salazar represent an end or a beginning? I believe it can be the latter if the right moves are quickly made. Responsible opposition critics in Lisbon, many of them friends of Salazar's ministers, do not attack his personal integrity, Like Cardinal Ottaviani. it is his very sincerity that makes him dangerous, they say.

His personal mystique still stands. Many of his critics believe he would survive a free-forall election.

Portugal, with its disembodied metaphysic, was a prisoner of its own myth and, like the Church, had to move outwards. The process has begun in the African territories, where the myth has begun to assume incarnate form, where Lisbon now pays out more than it receives.


When Salazar arrived, he found no trained cadres of administrators to work with. These have had to be built up slowly and painfully. Their present quality is good. It is a far cry from the days of the Galvao report.

But the organisation of a constructive opposition a la Torque is an immediate urgency. Salazar's polite talks with opposition thinkers leave his scepticism unaltered. The wealthy and aristocratic cadres. remain too preponderant. Opposition thinking is as yet too incoherent to supply clear alternatives.

And yet. with more and more foreign aid coming in, particularly German. it will be surprising if economic advances do not inevitably bring a speeding up of the political tempo.

What of the succession? Is it a case of apres moi le deluge? It need not be. The more liberal winds are blowing from Rome. not least through Portugal's Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Furstenherg, who com. mands the respect of all elements. But some form of legislation for the future is needed now. Soon it will be too late.

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