… And that includes apologising for “exploitation, human slavery”
President of the Republic Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa used Liberty Day commemorations today to say that Portugal must apologise and “fully assume responsibility” for the exploitation and human slavery that characterised its colonial past.
Marcelo delivered this arguably popular opinion (a number of countries have decided similarly recently) at the commemorative session in parliament of the 49th anniversary of the April 25 revolution.
He used the example of President Lula da Silva making the first address of the morning as making “perfect sense” because Brazil “pioneered decolonialisation”.
“It’s not just (a question of) saying sorry – which is undoubtedly due”, Marcelo explained, “ because sometimes saying sorry is the easiest thing to do. You say sorry, turn your back, and the job is done. No, it is the assumption of responsibility for the future of the good and bad things we did in the past”, he said.
According to Portugal’s head of State, colonisation of Brazil had some positive factors, “the language, the culture, the unity of Brazilian territory”.
But the negatives were “the exploitation of the indigenous people (…) slavery, the sacrifice of the interests of Brazil and Brazilians.
“The worst of our presence that we must assume, just as we assume the best of that presence. And the same can be said of the best and the worst, the worst and the best of our presence in the empire throughout colonisation”, he concluded.
Literal translation of the president’s speeches can leave readers a little breathless. But the bottom line is clear: apologies are due for what long-dead Portuguese citizens did in the past.