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Time Magazine 1946 - Portugal & Salazar

Time Magazine 1946 - Portugal & Salazar

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Published by romulus13
Revista americana Times, reportaj despre Salazar in 1946
Revista americana Times, reportaj despre Salazar in 1946

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Published by: romulus13 on May 16, 2012
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Monday, Jul. 22, 1946
How Bad Is the Best?
Last week Portugal produced no big spot news ; it hadn't for 20 years ; itmight not for 20 years more if the God he strove so hard to serve spared Antonio de Oliveira Salazar. For Salazar distrusted news.
 
He suppressed and distorted it for the good of the Portuguese who, he believed, were unfit for facts. After 20 years of Salazar, the dean of Europe's dictators, Portugal was a melancholy land of impoverished,confused and frightened people. Even Salazar, that model of rectitude,showed signs of succumbing to a law of politics discovered by Lord Acton:"Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts ab solutely."The real news from Portugal was that another European dictatorship hadfailed, though it might hang on for years. In the way of dictatorships, ithad stunned and shackled the wholesome forces that might have replacedit. Not only was Portugal at a new low point, it showed every sign of changing for the worse, perhaps slowly, perhaps by violent upheaval.Success Story. Portuguese, however, looked happy enough last week asLisbon turned out for the annual People's Fair (to aid Lisbon's numerousorphans). They rented boats on Palhava Park lake. They smeared theirswarthy faces with spun sugar candy. They took pleasure in their jados("songs of fate"), although these ditties are not always gay. Sample:Barbarous and murderous mother, Pitiless, heartless, she Threw herdaughters down a well Where they died in misery.They bought from fisherwomen in Bedouin-like headdresses thePortuguese equivalent of hot dogs — grilled sardines. But the biggestcrowds milled, with wistful eyes, around the U.S. pavilion, where woodendoll exhibits depicted typical scenes of life in the fabled, incredibly distant land of freedom.If Portuguese had felt boastful instead of wistful, there was material forself-congratulation about their Government and their way of life. Britain,their old ally, banker and protector, now owed them £80,000.000.Spain, their old rival, was in the United Nations' doghouse, while Salazar,in spite of his anti-democratic sympathies, had pursued throughout World War II a serpentine policy whose final tack was enough in the Allies' direction to earn their tolerance, if not their approval. ThePortuguese national budget, thanks to Salazar, was always balanced thesedays. (It had shown a deficit in 68 of the 70 years before 1928.) Portugal'sexports were much higher than before the war; her merchant marine wasabout to double its tonnage and her fishing fleet was expanding.Portugal's shop windows were full of luxury goods unobtainable in mostof Europe. Her currency unit, the escudo, was steady at four U.S. cents.
 
Unhappy Ending. Behind this glossy exterior of success, decay eats away at Portugal. Financial Wizard Salazar has not balanced the budgets of Portuguese families. Food prices have nearly doubled since 1939. Onetypical family with a monthly income of 1,200 escudos in May paid out1,663 escudos for rent, food, clothing, water and light. Strictly controlled wages lag far behind. Government workers, especially important to adictatorship, got a 25% increase in 1944 to meet a 112% rise in the retailprice index.Plain Portuguese obviously are not buying the luxury goods in the shops.The incidence of tuberculosis, venereal disease and insanity is high, andthere is an acute shortage of doctors & nurses. In one month last year,5,800 new mental cases needing hospital treatment were reported, of  whom only 1,118 were treated.The red tape that keeps patients out of hospitals permits Lisbon'sdirector of public health to gain credit with budget-minded Salazar by returning part of his appropriation to the national treasury each year.The same bureaucracy lets the older half of Lisbon (which had survivedthe 1755 earthquake) wallow. A few blocks from the grandiose andspotless Rocio, Lisbon's counterpart of Times Square, the Old Town'sslums have no electricity, running water or sewage. Once a day streetcleaners climb up & down Castello de Sao Jorge hill, where generationsof shuffling bare feet have polished the cobbles satin-smooth. An hourafter the cleaners have passed, the same steep, crooked passages are foul with refuse.Portugal's literacy rate is 50%, one of the lowest of Western countries—officially. But since those who can barely sign their names are counted asliterate, the actual figure is much lower. Despite repeated promises,Salazar, a teacher himself, has achieved little or no improvement inPortuguese education. Teachers make $12-$16 a month; few schoolshave been built—but Salazar lavishes money on the preservation of public monuments.The minority who can read are little better off than those who cannot.Contemporary-Portuguese literary efforts are scarcely worth the paperthey are written on. Portuguese are kept in ignorance of some of themost important world news. Salazar will not let any paper print newsabout Russia or about Communist activity anywhere. No Portuguesepaper mentioned the recent wave of strikes in the U.S. nor any otherlabor conflict. The United Nations is barely mentioned, because Portugal

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