Rui Patrício. The last MNE of the Estado Novo

Rui Patrício.  The last MNE of the Estado Novo


It would not be the future that would demote him, nor the last decades of our unfortunate democracy that would force any shake on his convictions. Until the end, and after half a century living in Brazil, if you asked him, Rui Patrício, the last Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Estado Novo, continued to state that the «25th of April was the defeat of a nation». And now that new fascist characters are rising everywhere and claiming with the greatest shame a greatness that never existed, many will tend to agree with him. Probably the same people who at these times always forget how, in the underground of that defunct regime, there still lie a good number of corpses to be identified or rescued from oblivion. On them and on many others, «the relentless hand of a system that was not only retrograde and mediocre, but criminal», as Eduardo Lourenço stressed. The philosopher pointed out how «one of the specialties of this system and the class that viewed it with delight was that of conferring an honorability, a political morality, on acts contrary to the most elementary human rights». Rui Patrício died this Sunday, aged 91, in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro), the country where he fled following the 25th of April Carnation Revolution. He also served Salazar as Undersecretary of State for Overseas Development. Marcello Caetano made him Minister of Foreign Affairs on January 11, 1970, when he was 33 years old. In the four years that followed, under the fire of international diplomacy, it was up to him to defend the isolation of the Portuguese position, with Portugal being the only country in Europe that insisted on maintaining its colonies. He was at Marcelo Caetano’s side in the hours of that regime’s final agony. On that Thursday in April 1974, he took refuge in the Carmo Barracks with the head of the Government, on the advice of the director of the political police, Silva Pais. Patrício would also accompany Caetano in the Bula chaimite, between Carmo and the MFA Command Post, in Pontinha Barracks. He never got over those hours when, mixed with fear, he would have felt degraded, while the armored vehicle made its way with great difficulty through the crowd that filled Largo do Carmo, hearing the screams: «Assassins!», «Assassins!». No matter how dark the outlook seemed to him that night, which he spent awake, with an armed guard at the door of his room, privilege never forgot to take care of his own. The following morning he was told that he would go to Madeira as a protective measure. He didn’t want to go and didn’t go. He waited for a while and five months later decided to go to Paris, looking for a position. He spent a month and a half in France before it became clear that it would be easier to try on the other side of the Atlantic. In Brazil, he was given a position in the Finance Department of a car sales company, but he would soon be made administrator of several companies. Born in Lisbon in 1932, Rui Manuel de Medeiros d’Espinay Patrício graduated from the Faculty of Law of Lisbon, and was an assistant for five years (1958-1963) before beginning his government career. He died with his convictions intact, having returned to Portugal only once, in 2008, to participate in a colloquium on Portuguese diplomacy between 1968 and 1974. At that event, he defended his usual ideas. «The 25th of April and the decolonization that followed it was the self-defeat of the Nation. Africa was part of the Portuguese Nation”, he proclaimed in a peremptory tone.

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