While Western Europe spins ever farther in the realm of suicidal tolerance, the people of Portugal have concluded that Salazar, their military dictator from 1932 - 68 was the Greatest Portuguese Ever. More than Prince Henry the Navigator or Vasco de Gama.
From news article:
Former dictator Salazar chosen as greatest Portuguese of all time by TV viewers
By Joana Mateus, Associated Press Writer
Published: 27 March 2007
Former dictator Antonio Oliveira Salazar was chosen as the greatest Portuguese of all times by viewers of a TV show.
Salazar, prime minister of a repressive right-wing regime also known as the New State from 1932 to 1968, received 41 percent in Sunday evening's final of "Great Portuguese."
The show, broadcast by state-owned RTP, asked viewers to choose people who had contributed to the greatness of Portugal's history. Ten figures were selected for voting, from statesmen like the Marquis de Pombal to explorers like Vasco da Gama.
Salazar's secret police, PIDE, used detentions without trial, torture and kangaroo courts to keep opponents off the streets.
Salazar died in 1970, although his regime continued until 1974, when the regime's unpopular wars against independence movements in its African colonies led to an army revolt, the carnation revolution, which toppled the regime and later gave independence to the colonies.
Pedro Marques Pereira, co-director of Diario Economico newspaper, said that choice of Salazar was due to ignorance. "It's ridiculous, really. It shows the level of development of the Portuguese," he said.
"People vote for what they know and these figures, Salazar or Alvaro Cunhal, are fresh in people's minds. To know more about the others, some studying would probably have needed to be involved."
But 77-year-old Maria Alice Oliveira, in central Lisbon, said the win showed how unhappy the Portuguese were with the current situation in the country.
"People are tired of this corruption now. People my age remember how Salazar brought stability to the country, economic growth and managed to keep us out of World War II," she said.
Jose Alves Mota, 44, agreed. "We are tired of a lack of values. Salazar is a reference of honesty, forthrightness, that is lacking in today's politicians."
The late leader of the Portuguese Communist party, Alvaro Cunhal, came second with 19 percent of the vote. Aristides Sousa Mendes, a diplomat who helped thousands of Jews escape Nazi Germany, came third with 13 percent.
They were followed by the first king of Portugal, Dom Afonso Heriques; poet Luis Vaz de Camoes; King Dom Joao II; Henry the Navigator; Marquis de Pombal; and Vasco da Gama.
The "Great Portuguese" show is based on an original BBC format called Great Britons that was also adapted for the United States, France, Canada and Germany, among others.