Francisco Rolão Preto

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Francisco de Barcelos Rolão Preto, GCIH (February 5/February 12[1], 1893, Gavião—December 18, 1977, Hospital do Desterro, Lisbon) was a Portuguese politician, journalist, and leader of the Movimento Nacional-Sindicalista (MNS).

The national syndicalists

The national syndicalists, also called the "Blue Shirts" (camisas azuis), following the tradition of uniformed right-wing paramilitary groups, was an organisation advocating sydicalism and unionism, as opposed to the corporativist state championed by the fascists, especially Benito Mussolini's brand of Italian fascism. MNS was also built on previous allegiances to Integralismo Lusitano, but it was not inspired by the Action Française as alleged by their adversaries.[2]

He advocated especially the personalism of Emmanuel Mounier and some of the aspects of unionism. His unionist platform was based on leftist ideas of social justice, such as "a minimum family wage", "paid holidays", "working class education", and a world in which workers are "guaranteed the right to happiness".

Early life

Cutting short his lyceum studies, Rolão Preto left for Galicia in Spain, where he joined the monarchist army officer, Henrique Mitchell de Paiva Couceiro, in his 1911-1912 failed attempts to topple the Portuguese First Republic. He then left for Belgium and worked for the integralist magazine, Alma Portuguesa, while completing secondary studies at the Liceu português in Louvain and then attending the Université Catholique there.

Rolão Preto had to flee Belgium when World War I began, and he took refuge in France; he finished his studies at the University of Toulouse, where he earned a degree in law before returning to Portugal. He replaced the jailed Hipólito Raposo as editor of the journal, A Monarquia. A member of the Junta Central de Integralismo Lusitano from 1922 onward, he began a close collaboration with the President of Portugal, Gomes da Costa, even before the 28th May 1926 coup d'état which established the Ditadura Nacional, and edited the 12 points the coup leaders published in Braga.

Against the Salazar régime

In 1930, he approached David Neto and other sidonista (conservatives, initially members of the Partido Republicano Nacionalista), with whom he created the Liga Nacional 28 de maio, self-proclaimed defender of the "national revolution". Rolão Preto gained notoriety as an advocate of national syndicalism and as editor of the Diário Académico Nacionalista da Tarde, first published in 1932, which soon changed its name to the Diário Nacional-Sindicalista da Tarde. He founded the Blue Shirts, which used the Order of Christ Cross, displayed the Roman salute, and became very popular in universities and among the youngest officers of the Portuguese Army.

He was briefly detained and then exiled, and his MNS was banned (together with the MNS journal, Revolução), after Antonio Salazar, often denounced by left-wingers around the world as a fascist himself, came to power and established the Estado Novo régime. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Preto ended up opposing the dictatorship of Salazar and Marcelo Caetano as being too mild. The order for a ban on the party stated that the Blue Shirts had taken inspiration in "foreign models". A part of his movement decided to join Salazar's União Nacional in 1934.

Rolão Preto resided, for a while, in Valencia de Alcántara, near the border with Castelo de Vide, and then in Madrid, as a guest in the house of José Antonio Primo de Rivera, with whom he collaborated in formulating a program for the Falange. He returned to Portugal in February 1935, and was detained after instigating a September rebellion with the crew of the Bartolomeu Dias and the garrison in the Lisbon-area Penha de França. Again exiled, he fought in the Spanish Civil War on Francisco Franco's side.

Later years

After World War II, Rolão Preto joined the left-wing forum Movement of Democratic Unity, and he published a volume entitled A Traição Burguesa ("The Bourgeois Betrayal"). He also backed more liberal candidates for the Presidency, such as Quintão Meireles, Francisco Higino Craveiro Lopes, and, ultimately, Salazar's arch-enemy Humberto Delgado. He also attempted to unite the monarchist movement behind Gonçalo Ribeiro Telles's Movimento Popular Monarquico.

He wrote critiques of Mussolini's ideas, immediately after his definitions of fascist doctrine at the beginning of the 1930s. Preto was one of the leaders of the People's Monarchist Party in the period between the Carnation Revolution (1974) and his death (1977).

Marriage and children

He married Amália de Brito Boavida Godinho (b. Fundão, Alpedrinha), and had two children:

  • Francisco Godinho Rolão Preto (b. Fundão, Soalheira), married to Maria Isabel Correia da Silva Mendes; and
  • Maria Teresa Godinho Rolão Preto (b. Fundão, Soalheira), married to Eduardo Teixeira Gomes.
Part of this article consists of modified text from Wikipedia, and the article is therefore licensed under GFDL.
  1. Probably the day of his christening.
  2. José Hipólito Raposo, Dois Nacionalismos - L'Action française e o Integralismo Lusitano, Lisboa, Férin, 1929.