PIDE

(Political Police)
   Commonly known as the PIDE, the Estado Novo's political police was established in 1932. The acronym of PIDE stood for Polícia Internacional e de Defesa do Estado or International and State Defense State Police, the name it was known by from 1945 to 1969. From 1932 to 1945, it was known by a different acronym: PVDE or Polícia da Vigilância e de Defesa do Estado. After Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar was replaced in office by Marcello Caetano, the political police was renamed DGS, Direcção-Geral da Seguridade or Directorate General of Security.
   This force was the most infamous means of repression and a major source of fear among the opposition during the long history of the Estado Novo. While it was described as "secret police," nearly everyone knew of its existence, although its methods — in theory—were "secret." The PVDE/PIDE/DGS had functions much broader than purely the repression of any opposition to the regime. It combined the roles of a border police, customs inspectorate, immigration force, political police, and a regime vetting administration of credentials for government or even private sector jobs. Furthermore, this police had powers of arrest, pursued nonpolitical criminals, and administered its own prison system. From the 1950s on, the PIDE extended its operations to the empire and began to directly suppress oppositionists in various colonies in Africa and Asia.
   While this police became more notorious and known to the public after 1958-61, before that new outburst of antiregime activity, it was perhaps more effective in neutralizing or destroying oppositionist groups. It was especially effective in damaging the Communist Party of Portugal (PCP) in the 1930s and early 1940s. Yet, beginning with the unprecedented strikes and political activities of 194345, the real heyday had passed. During World War II, its top echelons were in the pay of both the Allies and Axis powers, although in later propaganda from the left, the PIDE's pro-Axis reputation was carefully groomed into a myth.
   As for its actual strength and resources, it seems clear that it employed several thousand officers and also had thousands of informants in the general population. Under new laws of 1945, this police force received the further power to institute 90-day detention without charge or trial and such a detention could easily be renewed. A who's-who of the political opposition emerges from those who spent years in PIDE prisons or were frequently arrested without charge. The PIDE remained numerous and well-funded into 1974, when the Revolution of 25 April 1974 overthrew the regime and abolished it. A major question remains: If this police knew much about the Armed Forces Movement coup conspiracy, why was it so ineffective in arresting known leaders and squashing the plot?
   See also Intelligence Services.

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

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