Page 3, 2nd July 1937

2nd July 1937
Page 3

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From a Correspondent


The Portuguese have been viewing with dismay and apprehension the policy of the British Government with regard to Spain.

It is universally recognised here that if the Spanish Marxists should win, they would immediately start the bolshevisation of Portugal with the usual results of wholesale massacre, religious persecution, the burning of churches and resultant period of anarchy.

The contrast between the Portugal of today under the mild but effective control of Oliviero Salazar and the period of pseudodemocracy that lasted from 1910 to 1926 is quite sufficient to make every intelligent Portuguese look forward with fear to any return to weak government, let alone to the anarchy from which Portugal's neighbour has been suffering for two years.

Under the circumstances the attitude of her oldest ally, Great Britain, who places the Nationalists and the Reds on the same plane and even favours the latter by recognising the Valencia-Barcelona-Madrid anarchy and refusing to recognise the only real government in Spain, the Burgos government, has put this country into a state of perplexity and peril. The traditional bonds which have united the two countries were never in greater danger and the victory of the Nationalists is likely to drive Portugal into the arms of the Latin authoritarian bloc at the expense of British trade and her Empire trade routes.

Hunger and Illiteracy

Portugal is slowly but steadily emerging from the consequences of years of weak governments from the No-God creed preached by Alfonso Costa and supplemented by the cult of the bomb, according to Bernardino Machado.

Briefly, Dr. Salazar's programme recognises, apart from the mischief done by his predecessors, that much of Portugal's present misery is due to hunger and to illiteracy.

But with a huge percentage of her population unable to read or write—some of them mentally so atrophied as to be incapable of mastering the alphabet, new ideas can only be instilled by object lessons directly or indirectly benefiting the masses.

The Mutinies Progress is undoubtedly being made; but not without regrettable lapses, as for in-, stance the mutiny of the crews of two valuable units of the Portuguese navy early this year.

Such a grave affair was only possible under a naval tradition that should have vanished years ago.

Portugal has to remember that she only became a Republic through a naval revolt, and has barely now ceased to suffer the penalty.

The infamous tradition enjoined that the moment a naval unit returned to the Tagus from abroad, every officer of rank could rejoin his family till the day of his departure, the ship and its crew being entrusted to some midshipman or even lower rating who possessed neither authority nor experience to act in an emergency.

Still the Bomb

Another series of bomb outrages was only frustrated by sheer luck.

It was known that holshevist propaganda was rife among the youth of the towns and provinces.

Much had been done to counter it, not ably by registering those known or sus pected of " advanced" ideas, and by incorporating them, not as officers but rankand-file in a disciplinary corps wearing a special uniform; likewise by stimulating the activities of a loyal legion even in the remotest regions of the country.

Still the cult of the bomb persisted— one such, with time-fuse set, being laid by night in one of the Ministries but detected just in time by a night-watchman and removed to safety. The same night, close to the riverside petrol depot at Alcantara, there stood an empty truck, into which a homeless mendicant climbed intending to

sleep. He was disturbed by an intruder, who fled on seeing him. The mendicant looked round and found another infernal machine in the wagon which, had it exploded would in all probability have destroyed all the shipping in the port.

It must be remembered that during the lean years which followed the overthrow of the monarchy (19l0-1926) trade, industry and agriculture fell almost to vanishing point; bread was scarce and dear and beggars flocked in the streets. Education and the housing-problem re-" ceived no attention, public institutions and buildings of historical Value were allowed to fall into decay, and neither roads nor parks were kept up. It was indeed impossible to motor outside Lisbon owing to the state of the roads.

A New Portugal When Salazar took office, the exchequer was depleted and no foreign loans were available owing to the general state of insecurity.

The budget is now balanced although very few taxes are imposed, industry and .agriculture have revived. and there is an abrinclance of flour and other cereals.

Free schools have been built, as well as technical and engineering colleges; new parks and public gardens have been laid out, including the simulaerum of a tropical forest in the town itself.

(A special article on Salaxar's theory and practice of the State will be printed in the Catholic Herald next week.)

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