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Portugal 🇵🇹 is a European country which practices Christianity. It is a member of the European Union. Censorship was persistent in the country during the rule of the prime ministers Antonio de Oliveira Salazar (1932-1968) and Marcello Caetano (1968-1974). Portugal now ranks among the highest in the world for press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders.

General censorship[]

One of the achievements of the Carnation Revolution in 1974 was freedom of expression, which also quickly led critics to protest against the "excess of liberty" that was taking hold of newspapers, magazines, television, radio and cinema. Movies that had until then been forbidden started being screened, some of them many years after being filmed. Social and political satire became common in television and theater, a prime example being teatro de revista. Freedom of expression and information as well freedom of the press are warranted by the Portuguese Constitution of 1976 in its text, including these freedoms once again. Following revisions of the constitutional text have extended freedom of expression to all the media.

Although Portugal ranks in the top 10 for press freedom according to RSF, the same organisation has noted that "several journalists were threatened and insulted during a protest against the government's coronavirus restrictions."

Book censorship[]

Censorship of the 21 de julho de 1970 "edition of the "Notícias da Amadora" newspaper by using the infamous lápis azul (blue pencil).

During Estado Novo, The Regulamento dos Serviços de Censura (Censorship Services Regulations) was adopted in November of 1936 but was, not published in the Diário do Governo (the official journal). From then on, anyone who wanted to establish a newspaper or magazine would have to require a permit from the direction of the Service. To prevent white spaces from appearing in newspapers' pages, as had happened during the First Republic, the Estado Novo would force them to completely reorganize the pages before printing, so that any trace of censorship was disguised. In addition to this, editors were sometimes forced to submit pre-press pages to the censorship commission, which would make the maintaining of a paper unbearably expensive, driving some editors into bankruptcy. In 1944 the Censorship Service fell under the Secretariado Nacional de Informação (National Information Secretariat) which in turn was under the control of Salazar himself. With the lápis azul (blue pencil, which became a symbol of censorship), censors would strike out any text deemed unsuitable for publication. While receiving generic instructions regarding which subjects were sensitive and should be censored, each censor would decide by himself what was admissible or not, resulting in considerable variations in what got published. This was due to censors being a very intellectually disparate group: while some would quickly cut any "dangerous" text, others would let by openly subversive content. This becomes readily clear by examining the original, struck-out articles preserved to date.

An order from the Direction of Censorship Services noted about children's and young adult books that "it seems desirable that the Portuguese children are educated, not as citizens of the world, in preparation, but as Portuguese children, that will soon no longer be children but will continue to be Portuguese".

While Books were not subject to prior censorship, these could be confiscated after being published. This method was frequently enforced by the PIDE (the political police), which would issue search warrants for bookstores. The post office monitored any mailing of books. The Inspecção Superior de Bibliotecas e Arquivos (Library and Archive Inspection) forbade the reading of certain documents. The Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) kept a list of books that were not to be read.

  • História do Mundo para as Crianças - this novel written by Brazilian writer Monteiro Lobato was banned by the Portuguese government without any clear reason. According to the author, one possible reason was because he was from the "current of thought what claims that the discovery of Brazil happened 'by random'" or by the fact he "have registered the history of the 1600 years cut to the Arabian navy by Vasco da Gama".
  • Novas Cartas Portuguesas - this book was accused by the Estado Novo government of containing pornographic and immoral content, sparking a court case where their authors - Maria Velho da Costa, Maria Teresa Horta and Maria Isabel Barreno - were involved. Its ban was uplifted after the 1974 Carnation Revolution. Currently, the book is considered as a sharp criticism of the Portuguese chauvinism and a commentary on the condition of women in society.
  • The Gospel According Jesus Christ - this book written by the late José Saramago was denied participation in the European Literature Award by António Sousa Lara, the then-Under-Secretary for Culture (who had final say on applications from Portugal), who deemed the book as divisive among Portuguese people, rather than being representative of them. As a result, Saramago moved to Spain, residing permanently in Lanzarote, to protest against what he saw as an act of censorship.

Internet censorship[]

Movie censorship[]

  • Between 1933 and 1974, over 3500 films were banned for "moral" and political reasons, while others never went to the censors because the distributors knew they wouldn't pass. Most of these were "Russian"/Soviet films (between 1936 and 1970), Eastern European films (between 1947 and 1970), and Indian films (between 1953 and 1973), the latter due to the invasions of Portuguese India.
  • Catch 22 - banned in 1970 during Marcello Caetano's regime due to featuring a naked man over a tree, as well as the film satirizing the military.
  • Last Tango in Paris - this film was banned for its sexual contents. In 1974, however, the movie was unbanned.

Television censorship[]

  • In 1948, dubbing foreign movies and shows was banned to protect the Portuguese film industry, as well to limit the culture diffusion, as most of the population in the country at the time was illiterate. Another reason was that dialog could thus be left untranslated or purposely mistranslated so as to avoid forbidden subjects. Today, only animated movies and shows are dubbed in European Portuguese, while the rest of movies is subtitled in original language.
  • Humor de Perdição - This humor series by Herman José was suspended in 1988 by the RTP Management Council, presided by Coelho Ribeiro (who during the dictatorship, was a censor) justified the suspension by the supposedly undignified way in which the Entrevistas Históricas ("Historical Interviews") segment portrayed important Portuguese historical figures, The frequent references to King Sebastian's supposed homosexuality were primarily cited as the main factor for the cancellation of the series.

Video game censorship[]

External links[]