Funeral of Maria Barroso attended by hundreds

Hundreds of admirers attended the funeral service of Maria Barroso, wife of former president of Portugal and prime minister Mário Soares, who died on Tuesday morning at the Cruz Vermelha Hospital in Lisbon.

Her funeral, on Wednesday morning, was attended by Portugal’s highest officials, including President of Portugal Cavaco Silva and Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho.

An emotional Mário Soares and son João Soares were seen thanking the dozens of people who attended the funeral service to pay their respects.

Hundreds of admirers of Maria Barroso, who was known as a fighter for freedom and democracy, lined up and applauded as the urn was carried into the Santos Reis Magos Church in Lisbon.

Portugal’s president of parliament Assunção Esteves, PS leader António Costa, and various members and leaders of Portugal’s political parties also attended the service.

Maria Barroso, 90, entered a coma on June 25 after sustaining a massive brain hemorrhage from a fall at home. Her condition soon was described as “irreversible”.

Before being Portugal’s first lady between 1986 and 1996, Maria Barroso was one of the founding members of the Socialist party PS and was an MP following the April 25 Revolution in 1974.

She was also a graduate in Dramatic Arts and Historical-Philosophical Sciences, and built up a career as an actress before moving more seriously into politics.

“Maria Barroso was a cultured and cause-driven woman, and stood out as a fighter for liberty and democracy before and after the April 25 Revolution,” said Portuguese President Cavaco Silva shortly after her death was announced.

“Her love for her country and her dedication to her family are an example to all Portuguese, who today truly grieve the loss of an exemplary personality of our time,” he added.

Portuguese PM Passos Coelho also released a statement, describing Barroso as a person who “dedicated her life to the public cause and others, having fought for principles, values and ideals such as democracy, the respect of human rights and human dignity”.

Maria Barroso was also president of Portugal’s Red Cross between 1997 and 2003.

She was also still part of the administration board of human rights foundation Pro Dignitate, which she founded in 1994.

Photo: Hundreds paid their respects to human rights fighter Maria Barroso. Her husband and former president of Portugal Mário Soares was comforted by friends during the funeral, including PS leader António Costa