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Article in today’s Público

My research project on the PIDE ‘from below’ is the object of an article published in today’s edition of Público. The article, written by Maria Lopes, can be read here:


Article: The “sad grandmother”, the “simple but honest Portuguese” and the “good son of the Fatherland”: letters of denunciation in the final decade of the Salazar regime (2018)

I used the ‘sad grandmother letter’ featured in the previous post in an article I published last year.

Fundamentally, the aim of the article was to show the ordinary Portuguese citizens during the Salazar regime in a different light than the usual status of ‘passive victims’ ascribed to them in the historiography of the PIDE. The article also aimed to provide a typology of denunciations in the final decade of the Estado Novo and to produce a first assessment of the role of self-policing in the accomplishment of the PIDE’s mission. Finally, the article looked at the role of the PIDE as an economic opportunity for the poor. For some of them at least, the PIDE, in a society devoid of economic opportunities, was seen as a State institution susceptible of being made to work toward the resolution of their most urgent necessities, rather than as a threat to their ‘freedom’ and ‘well-being’. The article can be read here:

About me I am a Marie Curie Fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences (ICS), University of Lisbon, Portugal, and author of A Igreja Católica e o Estado Novo Salazarista ( For more information on my research interests and publications please go to:

About the blog The historiography of the Salazarist secret police (PIDE) has been marked by a heavily top-down approach to the subject, focusing on the PIDE’s methods of repression and on the minority of oppositionists these methods were applied to. In this blog, I propose to take a look at the PIDE ‘from below’, uncovering the various forms of spontaneous interaction between individual citizens and the secret police.

The project, of which this blog is part, has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie agreement No 842320.

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The ‘Sad Grandmother’ denunciation letter to the PIDE (1970)

In this anonymous letter, written by a ‘Sad Grandmother’ and received by the Salazarist political police on 26 February 1970, the author denounces the publication of a book entitled ‘Liberdade de Amar’ (original English title ‘The Freedom of Sexual Love’). She has caught her granddaughter reading it and, after browsing through it herself, equates its content to pornography. By writing to the secret police, the ‘Sad Grandmother’ is implicitly calling for measures to be taken against the publication and circulation of such books in Portugal. Note that the title of the book has been underlined in red by a PIDE agent upon reception of the letter, indicating that its content was taken seriously by the secret police. (Arch. ref.: ANTT, PIDE/DGS, SC, CI (1) 219, NT1177, Pasta 4).