COUP ATTEMPT IN PORTUGAL

Created: 3/11/1975

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

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MEMORANDUM

SUBJECT: Coup Attempt in Portugal

e do not as yetomplete picture ofbortive coup attempt or military uprising that occurred^ today in the outskirts! of Lisbon. It now looks atadly organized effort by moderators or conservatives has been suppressed. The next cause for concern is. how far ;leftists go In exploiting the episode.

Situation as of0 EST

2. The best information indicatesaratroop unit stationediles northeast of Lisboii moved by helicopter to attack the artillory unit headquartered near the Lisbon airport. rief period of fighting, the paratroopers were apparently convinced of the fruitless1ness of their cause and loyal troops took control of the airport area. There have been unconfirmed reports that units from the cavalry school at Sontarero and perhaps the commandoG at Amadora were also involved. AS0 EST al military activity appeared to have ceased.

"3. Although military leaders have requested that the people stay off the streets and "remainarious political parties have urged their followers to aome out and support thebetween the people and jthe Armed Forces Movement." roup of people gathered at jtheof the Republican National Guard in downtown Lisbon where the head of the National Guard had reportedly been: taken prisoner by more conservative officers. Latest reports indicate that the commander has been released and that Gene al

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Damiao, former head of the National Guard ondaSpinolawas placed under arrest after trying to take over, tha National Guard. Also under arrest is Colonel Durao, another Spinola confidant and commandor of the Tancos para-troopuiB, as well au at least three other military officers.

There have been reports Of extreme loftwing groups gathering in parts of Lisbon, a3 well as other majorcities. Portuguese police have boon fearful that soma groupe night huad for the US embassy. Embassy reporting5 Lisbon cimo Indicated that they had received protection frOd military police forces and that streets within one block of the embassy had been sealed off.

We have since received more ominous press reports that by nightfall large crowds of demoiifltrators had gathered in several areas of Lisbon, and radio and television station were relaying reports of where moderate- and. rightist militar officers and politicians could be found." In Oporto demons aerators are reported to have wrecked tho headquarters of the conservative Social Democratic Center party as wall as the local office of its electoral ally, the ChristianParty.

Possible Interpretations and Rcpercusnlone

Most of the officers arrested so far in connection with the abortive uprising have been linked in tho past with conservative former president General Spinola. According to press reports, Lisbon radio has reported Spinola, his family and several of his closo collaborators have taken refuge in Spain. Despite Spinola's apparent implication, however,s not clear which of the various groupa'known to have been plotting actually decided to move.

The unite Tancos paratroopers, end possibly elements from the cavalry school at Santarem and the commando unit atbeen noted in previous reporting as prepared to offer support to various rightist plots. Support from other units believed to bo under tha command of modaratu officers failed to materialise. Evon the majority of tha air force, generally believed to be more conservative than the other services, rallied to-the support Of the government.

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This failure of any significant support to develop suggests that the abortive effort was carriedmall group of desperate men who may have hopedoveheir part would galvanise other moderateinto action! Another possibility is that the Tancos unit jumped the gunlot that was supposed to involve others, or!thatwho had previously committed themselves simply backed out at the last minute. , :

Another possible explanation for the events is hat rightist military units were misled or otherwiseokod into action by leftist elements who wutre fearful of the moderates' resurgence that has becomevident in recent days. There is no evidence to;back up tnis hypothesis, but this poorly organized and unsuccessful coup attempt has clearly played into the hands of the loftime wnen tho moderates appear to hove much to lose'.

rallying to the defense of the Armed Forcesmoderate officers may have succeeded to some ex-in protecting their position. Moderate nave demonstrated that they too are aware of backlash that could follow. The Popularwas the first party to publicly and officially*

these efforts to salvage something from'afm ana civilian moderates of the movement

t*iii now hesitate to challenge the current leadership. Any plan, foe instance, to unseat the radioals in the Movement's tooramating Commission through the use of democratic pro-

lraaa^in3 of the Movement's general assembprobably be

morecowed by the ease with which the coupthwarted and the threat to call large numbers ofinto the streets, cooperating in widespread"of suspected rightistsostponement offor the radical wing of theMinister Goncalvas, have alroady called on thosethe AFM to be prepared to demonstrate that_ne streets and have promised that the "revolution"proceed

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messages to the public, suchWithout Portfolio vitor Alves'call for civilians to remain at home and staythat the lert has not yet tightened its gripdivisions remain within the AFM leadership.

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will" undoubtedly charge the USinvolvement in or foreknowledge of todays events.indication of this was General Carvalho'sanswer to reporters* questions that it "might be aif US Ainbassador Carlucci" were recalled.does not necessarily"reflect the view ofgovernment.

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