Learn more about Portugal and the CIA…

By Pete Simon

From 1926, Portugal had been governed by a fascist regime, explaining in part its determination to hold on to three African colonies. Portugal is the poorest country in Europe and the colonial wars that started in 1961 had stretched the country to its financial and spiritual limits. Finally, in April 1974, the good people of Lisbon overthrew the government in a bloodless coup: the Revolution of the Carnations (see more information below). This paved the way for independence in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. Unfortunately, this bright moment in world history was followed in 1975 by 25 years of civil strife in Angola as the Soviets, Cubans, and U.S. bankrolled their Angolan proxies in the fighting. The people of the country lost, and continue to lose with an unresponsive government corrupted by the glitter of oil money.

Regarding the Revolution of the Carnations in 1974: 

U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wanted to start a civil war in Portugal to reinstate the fascist government in Lisbon for two reasons: Portugal’s Communist Party was a threat in coming free elections (although they only had 13 percent of the electorate with them), and Kissinger did not want Portugal to leave Angola or Mozambique; particularly Angola with its oil reserves. Read more about this in an excellent article by Harvard professor Kenneth Maxwell, “The Revolution of The Carnations,” published in the book Civil Resistance & Power Politics, The Experience of Non-Violent Action from Gandhi to the Present, edited by Adam Roberts and Timothy Garton Ash, Oxford University Press.

In Maxwell’s article, the name Frank Carlucci appears. Carlucci was Kissinger’s right-hand man at the State Department in 1974. It was Carlucci who convinced Kissinger to cool it with the civil war talk until the situation in Lisbon could be evaluated. After lengthy discussions between the two, Kissinger agreed but sent Carlucci to Lisbon to become American Ambassador to Portugal. Frank Carlucci has an interesting history. He was also the CIA case officer in The Congo in 1960-61 and was on hand during the assassination of Patrice Lumumba. According to one internet search, Carlucci was also on hand in Rio de Janeiro in 1964 when the Brazilian Military overthrew the civilian government. His resume is very extensive.

More information:

For a look inside U.S. activities in Angola from 1975 to 1979, read the book In Search of Enemies, A CIA Story by John Stockwell, the former chief of the CIA Angola Task Force.