Companion to East Timor - Antonio Salazar

Antonio Salazar

Meanwhile in Portugal, the overthrow of the House of Braganca in 1910 was followed by the establishment of the First Republic. The Republic was overthrown in 1926 in a military coup that instituted western Europe's most enduring authoritarian system, the fascist Estado Novo of Antonio Salazar. The Salazar regime brought Timor and Portugal's other colonies under direct control through the Colonial Act of 1930. It provided for the establishment of local councils of marginal influence, and for the creation of two categories of people – civilizados (those assimilated into the Portuguese way of life) and 'nao-civilizados' (those who have not 'achieved the desired levels of economic and social progress'). Thus, although in theory everyone was equal before the law, in practice nao-civilizados were discriminated against. They were not permitted to vote, were subjected to forced labour, and were forbidden from moving out of their tribal area without permission.

According to a subsequent analysis by Australian intelligence, Portugal 'restricted internal migration by preventing movement from one district to another without permission. Each tribe remained relatively isolated. This policy was maintained to prevent tribes from allying and posing a threat to the relatively small Portuguese military force.' The Salazar regime remained in control of Portugal for much of the 20th century, banning strikes, lockouts and political parties. It used censorship, propaganda, and political imprisonment to 'neutralize' society, while awarding special privileges to the church in the areas of law and education. Portuguese rule inside East Timor reflected this relationship between church and state. Accordingly, Timor had only one political party, the Accao Nacional Popular, which was the Salazar regime's Uniao Nacional under a different name.