Socialist Worker

Portuguese revolutionaries found solidarity in Britain

Issue No. 1957

A delegation from the British International Socialists on a demonstration in Lisbon

A delegation from the British International Socialists on a demonstration in Lisbon


British workers were very active in providing solidarity for Portuguese workers before and during the revolution. Bruno Ponte and Clara Queiroz were Portuguese exiles from fascism living in Edinburgh before the 1974 revolution.

Bruno told Socialist Worker, “Portuguese exiles formed the Portuguese Workers’ Coordinating Committee and the Committee for the Freedom of the Portuguese Colonies.

“Portuguese people also formed a trade union that organised Portuguese workers in hotels, restaurants and hospitals in Britain. This spread to other nationalities and still exists as part of the T&G union.

“The coordinating committee took our ideas into the British working class and the trade unions.

“I spoke at meetings of very many groups, including a number of International Socialists meetings (the forerunner of the Socialist Workers Party) with its leading figure Tony Cliff.

“I remember me and Clara going to a national miners’ meeting in Glasgow where we met miners’ leader Arthur Scargill. The meeting passed a resolution against fascism in Portugal and the colonial wars.”

“Most of the workers didn’t know much about Portugal,” said Clara, “One question that always came up was why we supported the freedom of the colonies. People didn’t understand why the colonisers wanted to liberate the colonised.

Dictator

“We took people from the movements in the colonies to meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh. These people later became ministers in independent governments.”

“The most successful meeting we had in London was with Amilcar Cabral, the leader of the Guinea-Bissau liberation movement, who was later assassinated by the secret police,” said Bruno.

“The International Socialists helped us organise meetings.”

“In 1973 the dictator Caetano visited Britain as part of a celebration of 600 years of Anglo-Portuguese cooperation,” Clara added. “There were protests everywhere he went.”

“Caetano went to the British Museum to see an exhibition during his visit,” said Bruno. “A huge picket surrounded the museum.

“When the dictator’s cars arrived people tried to stop them getting in. The British dockers were particularly aggressive towards Caetano.

“All the workers at the museum came out on strike. The museum was deserted.

“Police on horses then violently attacked the protesters.

“We also protested at a welcome meeting at Greenwich, where we persuaded Labour MPs not to attend.

“When we returned to Portugal after 25 April 1974 we helped the many British workers and socialists who visited the country to experience the revolution.”


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