Fascists with a Spanish connection resurface in Lisbon
For those who watched the Portuguese revolution, the impossible has happened. Seven years after the downfall of the dictatorial Salazar regime, which claimed to defend "God, the fatherland, and authority," blue-shirted fascists are proudly raising their heads in Portugal again with hardly a change in their vocabulary.
"New Order" launched itself earlier this month with the aid of a right-wing newspaper. It proclaimed the movement's message with pictures of blue-shirted youths, arms raised in the fascist salute. They were flanked by the Portuguese flag and the New Order's banner, which reproduces the "cross of Christ," (the symbol that fluttered on the sails of the Portuguese ships on their great voyages of discovery 500 years ago).
Organizations adopting fascist ideology are banned by the Portuguese Constitution. But the rightist Democratic Alliance government of Francisco Pinto Balsemao is about to alter the Constitution so as to remove its leftist slant.
By launching their movement even before parliament has had a chance to bury the 1976 text New Order's founders wanted to show how little weight they attached to a constitution worked out by a parliamentary system they never believed in.
The men behind New Order are mostly disillusioned officers who gave the best part of their lives to defend an African empire destroyed by the 1974 revolution. The most prominent of them is the founder of Portugal's elite commandos, Col. Gilberto Santos e Castro.
The colonel was one of those rare officers who stayed on and fought when the Portuguese Army pulled out of Angola in November 1975. He backed the losing side, the Zaire-backed National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA).
The word fascism lost its meaning in the Portuguese revolution when it began to be applied indiscriminately to all those with reservations about the leftists' desire to keep Portugal completely out of the Western sphere of influence.
But the founders of New Order, with their frequent references to Italy's former fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini; the founder of the Spanish Falange, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera; and even Portugal's late ruler, Antonio Salazar, do not hide their admiration for a corporate state opposed to both "decadent capitalism" and "Marxist barbarity."
New Order's plans are ambitious and its leaders are not at all worried by the fact that the extreme right only polled 0.3 percent of the votes in last year's general elections.
They are quick to point out that they do not believe in elections and that those who represented the extreme right were weak politicians too concerned with remaining civilized and respectable.
New Order's first aim is to set up so-called holiday and work camps for Portuguese youth. Experience in Mussolini's Italy showed what such camps can lead to.
More sinister perhaps is the connection between New Order and the neo-fascist Spanish leader, Blaz Pinar. New Order leaders invited Mr. Pinar to Lisbon last year.
And those who head New Order are full of praise for Lt. Col. Antonio Tejero de Molina, the Civil Guard officer who stormed the Spanish parliament last Feb. 23. The right-wing journalist who reported the founding of New Order even began one article "I watched our parliament for three long hours on television the other day, anxiously awaiting the arrival of a Portuguese Tejero de Molina."