Henrique Galvão (February 4, 1895– June 25, 1970) was a Portuguese military officer, writer and politician. He was initially a supporter but later become one of the strongest opponents of the Portuguese fascist regime, the Estado Novo under Salazar.
In the 1940s, while serving as the Angolan Deputy to the Portuguese National Assembly, Henrique Galvão read his "Report on Native Problems in the Portuguese Colonies" before the Assembly. In this report, Galvão condemned the "shameful outrages" he had uncovered, notably the forced labour of "women, of children, [and] of decrepit old men." In his report, he concluded that, in Angola, "only the dead are really exempt from forced labor". Galvão further claimed that as many as 30% of all Angolan forced labourers died. Galvão cited the government's policy of replacing deceased native workers, without directly charging the employer, as being instrumental in encouraging the poor care of the workers. Galvão further claimed that this practice would often then result in their death. Galvão claimed that this state policy, which he said differed from policy in other colonial societies, eliminated the employer's incentive to maintain the welfare of the workers. He therefore accused the Portuguese government, due to its colonial policies, for the elimination of native workers in Angola. The Portuguese government refuted these accusations and ignored Galvão's report. Galvão was arrested in 1952. He was compulsorily retired from his military career, but was awarded a state pension. In 1959, he escaped from Portugal to Venezuela. He continued to be an anti-regime activist at that time.
Shortly before the events that would lead to the Portuguese Colonial War, on January 22, 1961, Galvão led the Santa Maria hijacking, also known as Operation Dulcinea. The hijackers, characterized by many as terrorists or rebels, seized the ship and took complete command of the vessel under Galvão's leadership. In this process, they isolated the vessel by cutting off all communication, and killed one officer and wounded several others. Galvão used the hijacking to send radio broadcasts from the ship calling attention to his concerns and views on what he characterized as the Portuguese regime of fascism. The event received wide international press coverage. It is understood that the hijackers forced the captain of the ship, Mário Simões Maia, along with crew members, to redirect the ship's course. The liner evaded both the U.S. Navy and British Royal Navy for eleven days before docking safely at Recife, Brazil. On February 2, 1961, the hijackers were met by Brazilian officials off the coast of Recife. After negotiating with Brazilian officials, Galvão released the ship's passengers in exchange for his own political asylum in Brazil. Galvão later announced that his original intentions for this operation were to sail the ship to the Portuguese overseas province of Angola. Galvão further claimed that he had planned to declare the independence of Angola from the Portuguese government, in opposition to António de Oliveira Salazar's regime. Galvão remained exiled in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, where he subsequently died in 1970.
Henrique Galvão's elegant writing can be seen in famous published works, including, as co-author with Teodósio Cabral and Abel Pratas, "Da vida e da morte dos bichos: subsídios para o estudo da fauna de Angola e notas de caça" ("Of Animals Life and Death: Contributions to the Study of the Fauna of Angola and Hunting Notes", e.g., elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetahs, buffaloes, etc., Lisbon, Livraria Popular de Francisco Franco, Portuguese National Library refs.B.R. 11955-9), a landmark study published in five volumes in 1933, and "Outras Terras, Outras Gentes". Galvão's stories of the Santa Maria hijacking were translated into English and into a book as Santa Maria: my crusade for Portugal (New York, 1961).