A political and economic exile

By Audrey SomnardLex Kleren Switch to French for original article

The fiftieth anniversary of the Carnation Revolution was celebrated in Luxembourg with a series of events, an exhibition at the Musée national d'archéologie, d'histoire et d'art (MNAHA) and lectures, including one by French historian Victor Pereira on the importance of Portuguese immigration to France and Luxembourg.

In just a few hours, Portugal experienced its own revolution on 25 April 1974. It was called the Carnation Revolution because there was no bloodshed and the transition to democracy was completely peaceful. Historian Victor Pereira looks back at this exceptional period in history in his book C'est le peuple qui commande: la révolution des Œillets 1974–1976, and we spoke to him during his visit to Luxembourg.

The importance of the Portuguese diaspora in Europe, but particularly in Luxembourg, is partly due to this period. Migration is an integral part of his work: "I'm a historian and I've mainly worked on Portuguese immigration to France. At the start of my research, I was particularly interested in the impact of the Portuguese revolution in France, especially on the students, intellectuals and politicians who went to Portugal during the Carnation Revolution. Many saw this revolution as a continuation of the movements of the 1960s, with a socialist character that challenged capitalism. Some even hoped that this revolution would spread to Spain and perhaps to countries like France." He found that there was a lack of reference works on this period, which is still perhaps too fresh for a generation of Portuguese: "I have continued to work on these issues, and with the approach of the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of 25 April, I thought it would be interesting to offer a new summary work on the subject, based on the most recent research in Portugal. This is one of the most important issues facing the country. By accessing archives both in Portugal and in France, although not all of them are accessible due to their volume, I was able to find some interesting leads and documentary resources. So I started writing this book, which came out at the end of 2023."

As well as history, the historian is interested in the men and women who lived this period. Men and women who fled their country to escape colonial wars, but also poverty: "There are several prisms. In fact, the idea was that in recent years, history, and more generally political history, is often seen through the eyes of the military, politicians and intellectuals. What I wanted to do was a history that, while dealing with the political framework, tensions and divisions, was also a social history. What I have tried to do in this book is to offer a synthetic and global vision that articulates different dimensions: political, social, diplomatic and cultural. I have tried to tell a story that is not just Lisbon-centric, by looking at different dimensions and scales to observe this revolution."

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