‘We can’t have Reds in Portugal’: The Portuguese Response to the Spanish Civil War.
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During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Portugal was in a unique position, both geographically and politically, compared to other European powers. With a 1200 kilometre border shared exclusively with Spain and a young authoritarian political regime, which had established Portugal as a corporatist state in 1933, the Portuguese could not ignore the civil war on their doorstep. Regarded as the ‘poor relation’ of Europe, and viewed as the inferior partner in the historical Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, an anxious Portugal was suddenly elevated into a central position on the European political stage when Britain and France pressured the European powers into non-intervention during the Spanish conflict. This article will show that the Estado Novo government, led by Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar, followed a course of action in support of a Nationalist–controlled Spain under General Francisco Franco. It will be argued that this response was influenced by Salazar’s personal principles in order to protect Portuguese sovereignty and interests from the threat of communism and atheism, which Salazar associated with the Spanish Republic.