April 5, 2012 / 10:45 AM / 7 years ago

Salazar red: strong on palate, harsh on memories

LISBON (Reuters Life!) - A plan by a Portuguese town hall to honor former dictator Antonio Salazar in the form of a red wine produced in his home region is stirring controversy 42 years after his death.

“The wine will be labeled ‘Memorias de Salazar’ (Salazar’s memories), the trademark has already been registered and we are studying other products to associate the brand with,” a spokesman for Santa Comba Dao town hall said.

But the move has drawn criticism from those who argue that the memories of oppression and hardship the Portuguese endured during nearly five decades of dictatorship should not be handled so lightly.

“I believe this is a pretty unfortunate idea, it would only be suitable if the wine was as sour as his politics were back in the dark ages of Portugal’s fascism,” Raimundo Narciso, head of Portuguese anti-fascist movement “Don’t Erase the Memory” told Reuters.

Santa Comba Dao mayor Joao Lourenco recognizes the controversy but says the Salazar brand is a magnet that can bring much-needed cash to the region at a time of a severe economic crisis, and is nothing to be ashamed of.

“We want to link a name known all over the world with the products of our region,” Lourenco was quoted as saying in local media. “At a time of such a serious crisis we need to grab everything that can help us get through the difficulties.”

Born in 1889 in the rural centre of Portugal, Salazar ruled Portugal with an iron first and died in 1970, four years before the regime was toppled in the bloodless “Carnation” revolution. In 2007, he was voted the “Greatest Portuguese of All Time” in a television poll that provoked an uproar by opponents and heated academic debates on his role and legacy in the country’s history.

The Dao region wines are known for their robustness and relatively strong alcohol content. “Chourico” pork sausages, cheeses and other products are expected to be produced under the “Salazar” label in the future.

Reporting By Daniel Alvarenga; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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