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António de Oliveira Salazar

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Politically, there exists only what the public knows to exist.
("Politicamente, só existe aquilo que o público sabe que existe.")
António de Oliveira Salazar, 1933, on the foundation of the Secretariado Nacional de Informação - National Secretariat of Information (the propaganda ministry)

António de Oliveira Salazar was the corporatist, fundamentalist Catholic dictator of Portugal from 1932 to 1968.


While following an ideology he created (kinda-somewhat related to fascism, but not really) and dictatorial form of government, Portugal (similar to neighboring Spain under Francisco Franco) officially remained neutral during World War II and did not join the Axis. Furthermore, while Franco's Spain covertly gave some aid to the Axis powers, Salazar's Portugal did the opposite and covertly gave some aid to the Allied powers. The politics behind this were complex with several issues at play. On the upside, he did not like Adolf Hitler, mainly because Hitler was (in Salazar's view) a pagan. No, seriously. Also on the upside, bringing his total of those to two, he helped Jews escape Nazi persecution.


Portugal had several colonies which might be threatened if it openly sided with the Axis; there were rumors that Franco's Spain had plans to invade and occupy Portugal if Salazar openly aligned with the Allies; and there was the threat of an American and British takeover of Terceira Island if Portugal did not allow its use as an Allied airbase. Finally, Portugal and Britain share a long history of alliances and mutual trust.

Illness and death[edit]

Salazar suffered a stroke in 1968 and was replaced as prime minister by Marcelo Caetano. He remained unaware of his removal from office, and his staff still brought him fake government "papers" for his signature until his death.

J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter character Salazar Slytherin is named after him. She resided in the north of Portugal for some years prior to becoming the well-known author she is today. [1]

After his death[edit]

Surprisingly he apparently still has some support in Portugal today, which went as far as him being voted "the Greatest Portuguese" in a phone-in television show. Still, many suspected the results were more likely the product of a concerted effort on the part of the ultra-far-right, so there's still some hope not all Portuguese are authoritarian idiots. [2]