The reopening of the Portuguese Language Museum in São Paulo, an important moment for a city used to living with the degradation of its urban and architectural heritage, can also be read as a sign of the resilience of an idea, Lusophony.
With his failed attempt to rethink Brazilian international relations, Bolsonaro was also the first president to promote the denial of Portuguese-speaking countries as a geopolitical space.
He is set to become the first president of the democratic era to never make an official visit to Lisbon.
The melancholy relations with Lusophone Africa boil down to a quarrel of neo-evangelical bishops.
Abandoned by Brazil, the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries recently met in Luanda to confirm its powerlessness in the face of the internationalization of the conflict in northern Mozambique.
Clearly, the political protests on the eve of the museum’s reopening were too cordial and republican for Bolsonaro. He then turned to provocation and neglect.
He began by responding to the event organized by João Doria with a bizarre announcement about an official visit by “Bolsonaro da África”. He was referring, apparently without knowing it, to the autocrat of Guinea-Bissau, known, like him, for his passions for the coup d’état.
Subsequently, Bolsonaro traveled to the state of São Paulo, just to make it clear that he would rather ride a motorcycle than attend the first international ceremony organized by Brazil in the post-pandemic era.
Eager to find the President of Brazil at any cost to save what may be protocol relations, the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, also seems anxious to preserve his place in history.
His meeting in São Paulo with three former presidents of the Republic suggests that Portugal, and Europe more broadly, is more attentive to the Brazilian democratic crisis than the usual position of neutrality suggests.
Alienated by Bolsonaro, Brazil sees history pass by its side. This year we celebrate the 60th anniversary of one of the most important events for Brazil in the 20th century: the start of the colonial war in the Portuguese Empire.
It was the predictable defeat of the Salazar regime that forced the Brazilian military dictatorship to sever its support for colonialism. Under the command of Foreign Minister Azeredo da Silveira, Brasilia recognized the independence of Angola and ushered in a new era of South-South relations.
Far beyond diplomacy, the decolonization of Portuguese Africa, and the utopias built during this process, led to the creation of a political and cultural universe that strongly influenced the Brazilian black movements. Celebrating this moment of empowerment has been largely ignored on this side of the Atlantic.
Of course, all of this does not matter to the government. According to him, a pro-populist Brazil economically dependent on China can afford to relegate relations with Portuguese-speaking countries to the rank of relic.
Building an alternative to this project is to break the lethargy that Lusophony has plunged into after years of the Brazilian government’s relentless attacks on diplomacy and culture.
It is up to the Republican authorities present at Saturday’s ceremony to fight so that the reopening of the Portuguese Language Museum is not just another act of resistance.
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