Carmona, António Óscar de Fragoso

(1869-1951)
   Career army officer, one of the founders of the Estado Novo (1926-74), and the longest-serving president of the republic of that regime (1926-51). Born in Lisbon in 1869, the son of a career cavalry officer, Oscar Carmona entered the army in 1888 and became a lieutenant in 1894, in the same cavalry regiment in which his father had served. He rose rapidly, and became a general during the turbulent First Republic, briefly served as minister of war in 1923, and achieved public notoriety as prosecutor for the military in one of the famous trials of military personnel in an abortive 1925 coup. General Carmona was one of the key supporters of the 28 May 1926 military coup that overthrew the unstable republic and established the initially unstable military dictatorship (1926-33), which was the political system that founded the Estado Novo (1933-74).
   Carmona took power as president upon the ousting of the Twenty-eighth of May coup leader, General Gomes da Costa, and guided the military dictatorship through political and economic uncertainty until the regime settled upon empowering Antônio de Oliveira Salazar with extraordinary fiscal authority as minister of finance (April 1928). Elected in a managed election based on limited male suffrage in 1928, President Carmona served as the Dictatorship's president of the republic until his death in office in 1951 at age 81. In political creed a moderate republican not a monarchist, General (and later Marshal) Carmona played an essential role in the Dictatorship, which involved a division of labor between Dr. Salazar, who, as prime minister since July 1932 was responsible for the daily management of the government, and Carmona, who was responsible for managing civil-military relations in the system, maintaining smooth relations with Dr. Salazar, and keeping the armed forces officer corps in line and out of political intervention.
   Carmona's amiable personality and reputation for personal honesty, correctness, and hard work combined well with a friendly relationship with the civilian dictator Salazar. Especially in the period 1928-44, in his more vigorous years in the position, Carmona's role was vital in both the political and ceremonial aspects of his job. Car-mona's ability to balance the relationship with Salazar and the pressures and demands from a sometimes unhappy army officer corps that, following the civilianization of the regime in the early 1930s, could threaten military intervention in politics and government, was central to the operation of the regime.
   After 1944, however, Carmona was less effective in this role. His tiring ceremonial visits around Portugal, to the Atlantic Islands, and to the overseas empire became less frequent; younger generations of officers grew alienated from the regime; and Carmona suffered from the mental and physical ailments of old age. In the meantime, Salazar assumed the lion's share of political power and authority, all the while placing his own appointees in office. This, along with the regime's political police (PVDE or PIDE), Republican National Guard, and civil service, as well as a circle of political institutions that monopolized public office, privilege, and decision making, made Carmona's role as mediator-intermediary between the career military and the largely civilian-managed system significantly less important. Increasingly feeble and less aware of events around him, Carmona died in office in April 1951 and was replaced by Salazar's chosen appointee, General (and later Marshal) Francisco Craveiro Lopes, who was elected president of the republic in a regime-managed election.

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

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  • Carmona, António Oscar de Fragoso — born Nov. 24, 1869, Lisbon, Port. died April 18, 1951, Lisbon Portuguese general and politician. A career officer, he rose to the rank of general by 1922. He took part in the army coup of May 1926 and became premier later that year. He ruled as a …   Universalium

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