Country Listing

Portugal Table of Contents


Terrorist Groups

Since the transition to democratic rule was completed in 1976, the country has been relatively free from subversive or terrorist activity threatening the maintenance of constitutional authority. The only significant terrorist group, the Popular Forces of the 25th of April (Forças Populares do 25 Abril--FP25 ), carried out a number of attacks between 1980 and 1986, but at no time did it pose a major threat to the security of the state. Effective counterterrorism measures and the absence of public support sharply curtailed the ability of FP-25 to sustain its campaign of violent operations against the Portuguese government and Western and NATO missions in Portugal.

FP-25 claimed to be a workers' organization dedicated to a struggle against exploitation, misery, and repression. Its stated goals were to defeat "imperialism," to lead a "workers' assault on bourgeois power," and to achieve the violent overthrow of the Portuguese government. The FP-25 also bitterly opposed the United States and NATO. No evidence of direct ties to other European terrorist groups existed, although Portuguese authorities asserted that some financial support had come from Libya. Between 1980 and 1984, most FP-25 actions involved assassinations, bombings, and bank robberies. Beginning in 1984, the group focused its attacks on United States and NATO targets. Mortars were fired at the compound of the Embassy of the United States, at NATO's IBERLANT headquarters, and at NATO ships anchored in Lisbon harbor. Bombs destroyed a number of cars owned by West German air force personnel. FP-25's ability to wage its terrorist campaign was curtailed by the arrest of a large number of its adherents in June 1984, including Otelo Saraiva de Carvalho, who had become a popular hero in Portugal after playing a key role in the Revolution of 1974 (see The Military Takeover of 1974 , this ch.). Other obscure radical groups claimed responsibility for subsequent minor bombing attacks, but such acts of terrorism abated in 1987. As of early 1992, Carvalho was free on a conditional basis, and the issue of a general amnesty for members of FP-25 had aroused wide public interest.

Separatist independence movements have long existed in the Azores and Madeira archipelagoes. The main group, the Azorean Liberation Front, has been responsible for many demonstrations but has not been associated with clandestine activities and violence. A newer group, the Azorean Nationalist Movement, was regarded as illegal because Portuguese law prohibited any association advocating the independence of the Azores. The existing system of autonomy recognized by the constitution of 1976 and subsequent legislation have endowed the regional governments with considerable rights and greatly reduced the appeal of the separatist movements.

Data as of January 1993