Costa Gomes, Francisco da

(1914-2001)
   Career military officer, key personality, and authority in transition from dictatorship to democracy, and president of the republic. Born in the remote, poor, Trás-Os-Montes district, Costa Gomes was trained as an army officer and gained experience and promotions in many postings in Portugal's overseas empire from Macau, China, to Angola and Mozambique. As a lieutenant colonel in the post of undersecretary of the army in April 1961, he was implicated in a military coup plot to overthrow Prime Minister Antônio de Oliveira Salazar. Although he was fired, Costa Gomes rebuilt his bridges, was promoted to brigadier general in 1964, and soon was appointed to important commands in the colonial wars in Portuguese Africa: first in Mozambique (1965-69) and then in Angola (1970-72). In September 1972, he returned to Portugal as head of the joint chiefs of staff, a post he kept until he broke with Prime Minister Marcello Caetano in early 1974.
   During the last part of Caetano's governance, General Costa Gomes, in tandem with his senior, more famous and charismatic colleague in arms, General Antônio de Spínola, was involved in activities that led to the organization of a successful military coup on 25 April 1974, which overthrew the 48-year-old Estado Novo. Although younger officers did most of the work organizing this action, Costa Gomes played a key role, including authorizing the publication of the sensational book by General Spínola, Portugal e o Futuro, published only two months before the Revolution of Carnations in February 1974. Spinola's book acknowledged that Portugal had to find a political not a military solution to the wars in her African colonies, and the public reception of the work helped prepare the atmosphere for a bloodless coup.
   After the successful coup by the Armed Forces Movement and the Revolution of 25 April 1974, Costa Gomes was appointed chief of defense staff. When General Spínola resigned in September 1974, Costa Gomes became president, a post he ably filled until June 1976, when General Ramalho Eanes was elected president of the republic. Costa Gomes soon withdrew from the public eye, but in 1981 was promoted to Portugal's highest military rank of marshal.

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

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