While for many this seemed like a perfectly normal Saturday, in Porto the full significance of June 10 – Dia de Portugal and Dia de Camões – saw government VIPs assembled before military parades to hear stirring speeches led by president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
As Observador remarked, last year the president’s speech lasted seven minutes. This year it ran for only five – and straight after the morning’s commemorations, the man who admits to needing little sleep was off to Brazil to see the rest of the day out reaffirming Portuguese links with its South American cousin.
Yet those five minutes were well spent – his words repeated over the nation’s media and dubbed “inspirational” by politicians across the board.
The bottom line of President Marcelo’s message was that the country wants to be “free and independent”.
“Independent from being backward, from ignorance, poverty, injustice, debt, subjection, free from ‘abuse of power’, demagogy, narrow mindedness, xenophobia and racism”.
Just as last year, Portugal’s popular head of state veered away from referring to anything to do with national politics, using the occasion to include the millions of emigrés throughout the globe who carry Portugal Day close to their hearts.
After decorating former soldiers and saluting the armed forces, he was off by air with prime minister António Costa to continue celebrations with the Portuguese community in São Paulo.
Tomorrow (Sunday) the duo will move on to Rio de Janeiro, where they are due to have a commemorative Portugal Day lunch (admittedly a day late) onboard the floating ‘naval school’ Sagres – and shortly afterwards, President Marcelo begins his return journey, while the PM flies on to Argentina for a promotional trip with business association AICEP.
Next year, says the government’s Portugal Global portal, Portugal Day will be celebrated in the United States, alongside Portuguese emigrés from the islands of the Azores.
PHOTO: José Coelho/ Lusa