Galvão, Henrique

(1895-1970)
   Army officer and oppositionist of the Estado Novo. A career army officer with considerable service in the African colonies, especially as an administrator in Angola in the 1930s, Galvão was an enthusiastic supporter of the Estado Novo in its early phase (1926-44). As a young officer, he supported the Twenty- eighth of May coup against the republic, and soon held middle-level posts in the Estado Novo. An early booster of the cultural and political potential of the radio and public spectacles, Galvão did little soldiering but more administration in radio and was appointed to manage the June-December 1940 Exposition of the Portuguese World in Lisbon. After a tour of the African colonies as inspector-general, he presented a confidential report (1947) to the regime's National Assembly in Lisbon. His findings revealed widespread abuse of authority and forced labor and semislavery in Angola and other colonies.
   The regime's suppression of this report and its negative response precipitated Galvao's break with Prime Minister Antônio de Oliveira Salazar's government. Galvão was harassed by the political police (PIDE) and arrested and tried for treason in 1952. Imprisoned, he escaped, disguised as a woman, from Santa Maria hospital in 1959 and fled to South America, where he organized opposition groups to the Estado Novo. In early 1961, Galvão got world media coverage when he led a group of about a dozen Iberian dissidents who participated in an early act of political terrorism: the hijacking at sea of the Portuguese ocean liner Santa Maria, drawing the attention of the world's journalists and public to the flaws in the Estado Novo and attempting to arouse a revolution against the Lisbon authorities by sailing the liner to Portuguese Africa (São Tomé or Angola). This bold enterprise failed, the liner and the hijackers were interned in Brazil, and Galvão continued in the political wilderness as an adventurer/oppositionist. He died in South America in 1970, the same year as his bête noire, Dr. Salazar.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

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