Portugal Jails Leftist Editor
Police have arrested the editor of a militant left newspaper - Luta Popular (People's Struggle) - for printing an article sharply critical of the continued presence of Portuguese troops in the African colonies of Mozambique, Angola and Guinea-Bissau. Luis Sanches, also leader of the Movement for the Reorganization of the Portuguese Proletariat, was picked up by police June 7 and is now being held in the army's custody, waiting for charges to be brought against him.
This arrest occurs less than two months after Marcello Caetano's fascist regime was overthrown by a military junta which immediately proclaimed its plans for "restitution to the Portuguese people of the civil liberties of which they have been deprived."
Ironically, Antonio de Spinola, leader of the junta and now president, was himself persecuted before the coup because he had written a book pointing out the futility of Portugal's wars against the African liberation movements.
According to the New York Times, Sanches was arrested because his article was interpreted as inciting Portuguese soldiers to desert. Although the new government has been attempting to negotiate a ceasefire with the African liberation forces, it has not been successful because the colonies will accept nothing short of total independence. Spinola's plan was to offer the colonies a position of "equal power" in a federation with Portugal, with Lisbon in control of finances and defense.
In an earlier repressive move, the Portuguese government banned all demonstrations in Angola after thousands of people marched on May 26 to demand independence. On the same day, cavalry troops and armored cars used tear gas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators in Lisbon who were also protesting the continued presence of Portuguese troops in the African colonies. --LNS