Mario Soares, a former prime minister and president of Portugal who helped steer his country toward democracy after a 1974 military coup and grew into a global statesman through his work with the Socialist International movement, has died at age 92.
Soares died on 7th Jan 2016. A moderate Socialist, he returned from 12 years of political exile after the almost bloodless Carnation Revolution toppled Portugal's four-decade dictatorship in 1974.
As a lawyer, he had used peaceful means to fight the country's regime, which eventually banished him. Soares was elected Portugal's first post-coup prime minister in 1976 and thwarted Portuguese Communist Party attempts to bring the NATO member under Soviet influence during the Cold War.
He helped lead his country from dictatorship to parliamentary democracy and a place in the European Union.
Soares' role as an international statesman was solidified through his work with the International Socialist movement. As a vice president from 1976, he led diplomatic missions that sought to help resolve conflicts in the Middle East and Latin and Central America.
In 1986, Soares became Portugal's first civilian president in 60 years. His broad popularity brought him two consecutive five-year terms.
Soares belonged to a generation of influential European Socialist leaders that also included Francois Mitterrand of France, Germany's Willy Brandt, Olof Palme in Sweden, and Felipe Gonzalez in Spain. He also led the Carnation Revolution, called so because people stuck the flowers at the end of gun barrels of soldiers during the Communist regime.
The Communist Party's influence surged following the coup, prompting fears in the West that Portugal–a founding member of the Atlantic military alliance – would come under the Soviet Union's influence and encourage other radical leftist movements in western Europe.
Soares, who led the Socialist Party, won the country's first entirely free elections and became prime minister. He was instrumental in quickly granting independence to Portugal's five colonies in Africa.
All of them - Angola, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Cape Verde, and Sao Tome and Principe - became single-party Marxist states supported by the Soviet Union and Cuba after their independence.About Martin Soares
- Born in Lisbon in 1924, Soares started out as a radical student organizer.
- He became a renowned defense lawyer.
- He was a relentless opponent of Salazar's regime, which along with Franco's roughly contemporary rule in neighboring Spain, shut off the Iberian peninsula to outside influences.
- Salazar's secret police, known by acronym PIDE, jailed Soares 12 times and exiled him twice, once to the island of Sao Tome off west Africa.
- After democracy, Soares served four times as the country's foreign minister and three times as prime minister.
- He was also the most well known president of Portugal of his times.