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Speech Addressed by the President of the Portuguese Republic on the occasion of the Official Dinner hosted by the Mayor of the City of Rio de Janeiro

Honourable Mayor of the City of Rio de Janeiro,
Honourable Deputy Mayor,
Honourable Secretaries,
Honourable High Authorities present,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to thank you, Mr Mayor and Dear Friend, for the kind and warm words you addressed, to me and to Portugal, and which so well reflect the bonds of affection that link the Brazilian and Portuguese peoples.

I am extremely pleased to have taken part in the Ceremonies organized by the Rio City Council, an exalted moment of the Commemorations of the 200 Years of the Arrival of the Royal Family in Brazil.

It is difficult not to feel a deep emotion in the face of what each step of the Programme evokes in us, in this day which will be forever stamped in our memory and in which we celebrate the arrival of the Royal Family, and their first contact with the city that from then on would be the capital of the Empire. Thus the bold and visionary answer to that which, in the words of Luis de Camões, the Prince of our common language, would be classified as a dramatic sign of change “of the times and the wishes”.

Emotion when facing the show and the concert which we have just attended, and in the praise for this magnificently refurbished area which is the Church of Our Lady of Carmo, the former Imperial Cathedral, where a King who arrived here as Prince of Brazil was solemnly and popularly acclaimed, to return to Portugal with Brazil in his heart.

Emotion in this hall of an Imperial Palace which welcomed the Prince Regent and his Family but also, as may be guessed, the confused feelings of who experienced the performance of an unique gesture in History, with implications which were impossible to predict. .

A gesture in advance of a procedure which would result in the birth of the “loved Fatherland” which is sung in the Brazilian National Anthem and which so many Portuguese intone with the conviction dictated by the sharing of the same feeling.

Because Brazil and Portugal are an example of that extremely rare type of relationship between States that, however deeply proud of their own sovereignty and identity, know that they will never be foreign to each other, because no Portuguese will ever be a foreigner in Brazil, nor will any Brazilian ever be a foreigner in Portugal.

Nothing different is said, after all, by that great name in Brazilian diplomacy to whom so much is owed by the relations between Portugal and Brazil and who was good enough to grant me his friendship, Ambassador Alberto da Costa e Silva, in a publication with a wonderful name - “Invention in Design, Fictions of Memory”. In it, when he describes his first task as a diplomatic clerk in the Brazilian Embassy in Lisbon, he states: “I was happy, however. (...) In Lisbon, I felt at home. Everything seemed known to me. (...) The city was not wasted in my eyes. The streets of my boyhood seemed to run along there, and I memorized their forms and colours. Not that all the Squares, avenues, streets and alleys were beautiful, some were even ugly, but I wanted them just so, ugly.” It would be difficult to say any better or to touch us any deeper.

Mister Mayor,

I am aware of the endeavour and the dedication that you have placed on these Commemorations. I wish to thank you very sincerely for what you have achieved and, through you, all those that, under your guidance, gave their best for the success of these celebrations. A feeling of gratitude which is addressed first of all to the members of the Commission set up for this purpose, but that I wish could also reach all those that, in their day to day and less visible tasks, contributed towards these moments becoming possible.
The person who is thanking you is the man touched by the emotion of what is given him to witness, certain that, 100 years hence, someone will speak of this day as today we speak of the birth of Urca and of the endeavours of the Baron of Rio Branco in the celebrations that, in 1908, mustered the then capital of Brazil.

But who thanks you is also the President of the Republic of Portugal, for the contribution of these Commemorations towards the strengthening of the bonds that link both our countries. That which links us and which, in any case, would always be very valuable, has nowadays, before the challenges that countries are called upon to face, an essential strategic value.

Countries are less than ever able to give themselves the luxury of ignoring those which are disposed to construing with them a common front. And if, in certain cases, an intense effort of philosophical building up is required to justify the partnership, this surges naturally in the case of Brazil and Portugal. So naturally that utmost surprise is shown when whoever, insecure, cannot view its advantages in the name of historical complexes, nonsensical in two adult and trusting nations.

For this reason, what motivates me more, in these days when we are jointly celebrating a central moment of our common History, is the conviction that from this will emerge a message of renewed trust in the building of a project for the future, constructed from a reinforced bilateral cooperation and from an ever closer partnership in the international stage.

A project those future generations can be proud of. So that 100 years hence, when what was accomplished in these days is recalled, this will be seen as the sign of the future which would eventually arrive.

Mister Mayor,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Ambassador Costa e Silva inherited from his Father the gift of writing. If there is something which is not worth fighting against, it is the DNA that runs in our veins. Ambassador Costa e Silva accepted it and with it built a notable work. Your Excellencies will surely understand that I cannot resist recalling a few lines written by Poet Da Costa e Silva, a simple and simultaneously enormous poem, as very often simple things are, a poem “doubled in four”, that Negrão de Lima one day took out of his wallet, when seeing the son of the Poet, Ambassador Costa e Silva. It read as follows:

“Hours brood in the still air;
- The Past
Hours dance in the throbbing air;
- The Present
Hours dream in the abstruse air;
- The Future.”

May we know how to merit the future, because that is how we can best deserve the past.

It is in the name of this future that I ask all of you to raise your glasses in a toast to the health of Mayor César Maia and to the prosperity of this City of Rio de Janeiro, yesterday, today and always, “city of the thousand charms”.

Thank you very much.


© 2008 Presidency of the Portuguese Republic