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In 1954, the Portuguese political police (Polícia Internacional e da Defesa do Estado: PIDE) created posts in the Azores island of Terceira, with a view to detecting activists against the authoritarian Portuguese regime and strengthening control over a part of the remote archipelago in the Atlantic. The PIDE agents were entering a difficult setting. The local elites and regular police units, and the Portuguese army units in the island, were far from delighted to have to work with the repressive arm of the regime. Exiles and opposition sympathizers from the mainland who lived in the Azores sometimes had a good reputation locally and enjoyed the support of the islanders and the regional elite. This situation created frustration and scorn in the ranks of the police.
But Terceira was not only an example of a peripheral zone of a Southern European authoritarian state but also the location of one of the most essential US airbases of the Cold War, on the Lajes Airfield. The massive US troop presence complicated the task of the PIDE agents. It led to questions of access for controlling potential opponents of the regime inside the base, but it also led to a whole range of conflicts and worries about the "Americanization" of the island and (from the point of view of regime hardliners) unwanted cultural exchange. This article analyzes the complex interactions through the interpretation of the formerly unknown PIDE series on Angra do Heroísmo (the island capital) and US American documentation on the Azores from the NARA.