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MESSAGE FROM MR. MARIO SOARES

The dictator Salazar never understood the colonial phenomenon and the reasons why, since the sixties, the UN began to proclaim the right of peoples to self-determination, following the Bandung conference. Moreover, in forty-two years of dictatorship, he had never condescended to travel to any Portuguese colony, whether in Africa or in the far East.

That was the reason why, when it began the issue of the independence of Goa, Daman and Diu - "the Portuguese State in India" as the dictatorship called it - Salazar refused any contact with the Indian government, chaired by Prime Minister Nehru, and appealed to violence, as he always did, in relation to his opponents.

I had met, at that time, Tristão Bragança da Cunha, Purushottam Kakodkar, Rama Hegde, and, later on, Dr. Froilano de Mello, who has become a representative of Goa at the National Assembly, which has never been a true Parliament since there was only one party, appointed by Salazar. Although I had been arrested at the same time the above mentioned friends did, we were never together in the same prison. It was only after we were released by the PIDE (Salazar's political police) that we came to know each other well and socialized, becoming friends.

Salazar's intransigence regarding the cause of India and in relation to Portugal's African colonies was responsible for thousands of deaths and severe injuries, from both sides, in thirteen years of colonial wars in Africa.

Salazar ordered the resistance to the so-called invasion of Goa: the only thing he wanted was, to use his expression, "that we should win or die". He was wrong. The Portuguese military in Goa had the good sense of not complying with the orders from Lisbon and surrendered. Thus the Portuguese presence ended, the worst way, when it could have been negotiated peacefully in excellent conditions.

I was, as it is well known, one of the leaders of decolonization. And I feel honoured to have begun the decolonisation, without which Portugal could never become a democracy or a member of the European Union.

I also feel honoured to have restored, as Minister of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic relations with India (which are excellent nowadays), then led by Mrs. Indira Gandhi. During a historic journey, I had the honour to pay homage to my friends Purushottam Kakodkar, Tristão Bragança da Cunha and Froilano de Mello, from whom I learned so much, and they, being Goans and therefore Indians, as my friend Eduardo Faleiro, never failed to express their friendship for Portugal.