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April 25 - 43 years later, what has changed?

Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the Revolution of 25 April.

All the Portuguese who at 10:55 p.m. of April 24 1974 had the radio tuned to Radio Alfabeta, heard the announcer João Paulo Dinis launch the song "E Depois do Adeus" (in english, “And after Goodbye”) by Paulo de Carvalho. Little did they suspect that the song that had won Festival da Canção (a national music competition) that year was, in fact, the signal for a group of soldiers led by Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho to advance with the first movements of the coup d'etat that would be called " April Revolution".

The second signal was given at midnight and twenty minutes, when Zeca Afonso’s song “Grândola Vila Morena” was broadcast on Renascença Radio. The coup was confirmed and operations began.

The life of the Portuguese citizens changed radically after the "Carnation Revolution". To choose was not a familiar concept for the population. Military service was mandatory for all young men; In schools, girls and boys were placed in separate classes; Women had to submit an authorization signed by their husband in order to be absent from the country and have completed secondary education in order to vote. Accessibility to health care and education was also reduced.

Access to information was extremely restricted: PIDE / DGS had implemented a censorship system that determined what books, music and news information the population could access. The internet was still far from existent in Portugal, much less accessible to ordinary people. However, even if it already existed, it would certainly be quite censored, since the regime controlled and limited all kind of information that could endanger the Salazarist dictatorship.

The exercise we are now proposing is to imagine what the revolution would have been like in 2017. It might have been concerted on the internet, via e-mail or even whatsapp conversations. Perhaps it was born of an event on Facebook or a private group on Twitter, similar to what happened in Tunisia in the movement known as Arab Spring, which would certainly not have been possible without the resources and devices provided by social networks.

Twitter and Facebook were essential in spreading and strengthening popular demonstrations, despite government efforts to block and restrict access to the internet. If access to the internet was really limited, the military could access networks outside government control, such as TOR. Perhaps today the carnation would not be the symbol of the Revolution, but rather the like or an hashtag.

There are so many possibilities that it is difficult to imagine what the fall of the Portuguese dictatorial regime could have been if the Internet existed at the time. The truth is: it is thanks to the dream of those who took part in the coup d'état of April 25 1974 and of all those who subsequently worked to improve the living conditions of a repressed population, that today we can publish this article without fear for our freedom and well-being.

Today we celebrate the end of the dictatorship in Portugal.

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