The military takeover last week in Portugal opens up a 0number of possibilities for the country's future, but immediate independence for the three African colonies is not necessarily among them, three Faculty members cautioned yesterday.
The three--Francis M. Rogers, professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, Juan Marichal, professor of Romance Languages and Literatures, and Kenneth O. Dike, Mellon Professor of African History--explained that a number of factors, including the presence in Africa of large numbers of Portuguese settlers, combine to place substantial obstacles across the road to full independence.
Rogers, who specializes in Portuguese history and language, explained that the white populations in Angola and Mozambique, which he estimated consist of between 200,000 and 300,000 of the 5 million people in each colony, might follow the example of neighboring Rhodesia and attempt to install white minority governments independent of Portugal.
Rogers added that General Antonio de Spinola, the head of the Portuguese junta, has never favored complete independence for the three colonies.
Rogers cautioned that the situation in Portugal at present is extremely fluid, but he speculated that Spinola may seek to replace outright colonialism with a confederation similar in some respects to the French Union or the British Commonwealth.
The confederation might well include Brazil, which has historical and linguistic ties to Portugal, Rogers said. In addition, Brazil may be interested in channeling some of its growing industrial output to African markets, he added.
Such a confederation would involve a tenuous balance between the fears of the white settlers and the aspirations of the African people, Rogers and Dike explained. Both men agreed that Spinola will attempt to isolate the militant independence fighters in each colony by directing his appeal for reconciliation to moderate blacks.
Rogers said Spinola seems confident that a majority of the blacks in each of the colonies will not want to sever all ties to Portugal. Dike, noting that the revolutionary armies in each colony have already publicly rejected anything less than full independence, said that the wars, which have been waged for over a decade, may continue.
The resolution of the colonial question depends in large measure on the situation in Portugal itself, which is still unsettled, Rogers and Marichal said. Mario Soares, the socialist leader who returned from exile yesterday, may play an important part in the outcome of the current political manuevering, Marichal added.
Marichal, who said he knows Soares personally, described the socialist leader as "a man of great integrity" who will attempt to moderate radical students and other young people in order to prevent a military crackdown. "The military will not allow an excessive move to the left," Marichal said.
Rogers explained that older Portuguese who remember the widespread unrest that existed before 1926 under the former Republic will support the military against the students if prolonged violent clashes take place.
The intentions of Spinola and the military men who support him are difficult to fathom, Rogers cautioned. "It is not yet clear whether Spinola really is a humanitarian liberal or a tool of the big businessmen who want to continue grinding down the masses," he said.
Marichal said that the Portuguese military adheres to "no clear ideology," but instead staged the takeover because its "sense of honor" was offended by the continuing poverty and oppression in the country.
Marichal said the colonial wars had drained the country's resources and locked most of its people into an "absolutely incredible" state of poverty. Rogers added that the dismal conditions within the country, aggravated by the repressive military draft, had prompted an exodus to western Europe and the United States that further limited the possibilities of economic improvement.
The military takeover in Portugal will have "very serious consequences" for neighboring Spain, Marichal predicted. Francisco Franco, the Spanish dictator, "has counted on Portugal since the Spanish Civil War," he said.
Marichal said the Spanish government was too cautious to intervene militarily in Portugal, but it might increase repression within its own nation to dampen liberal sentiment. At the same time, the Spanish people might become "envious" of Portugal and seek similar changes in their own society, he added.
"I noticed news reports which said that Spanish people are driving across the border to Lisbon to experience freedom," Marichal commented