Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and his Brazilian counterpart Lula da Silva

The Government of Brazil proposed to assist Portugal in compensating for damages caused by slavery after the latter recognized its responsibility for crimes committed during the colonial era, such as the trafficking of African slaves, massacres of indigenous nationals, and looted goods.

Brasilia.- During the week, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa admitted that Portugal is in debt. “We have to pay the costs (of slavery). Some actions were not punished and those responsible were not arrested. Some assets have been looted and have not been returned. Let’s see how we can repair this,” Rebelo de Sousa acknowledged before accredited journalists in Lisbon, and stressed that “Portugal assumes full responsibility for the damage caused.”

Brazilian Minister of Racial Equality Anielle Franco reported that the Government has contacted Portuguese authorities. The idea is to debate concrete forms of reparation. “For the first time, we are debating this dimension internationally. It is important and forceful,” she said, pointing out that the demonstration reflects centuries of taking from the black population. “Concrete actions should follow speech. Our team is already in contact to discuss and think about measures and steps,” she stressed.

According to the Rede Brasil Atual portal, for the first time, a representative of the Portuguese State takes responsibility for the crimes of the past and social movements take concrete actions for compensation.

For the news site, the latter’s responsibility for slavery is clear. The Portuguese Empire colonized much of Africa and maintained Brazil and other colonies in Asia and Oceania. Virtually half of all enslaved Africans, more than six million people, were sent to Portuguese lands. Slavery was the great economic engine of the so-called Great Navigation and the empire’s expansion.

The first Portuguese colonizers arrived in the year 1500 in the “New World” (the Americas); the navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral landed with them on the coast of the new territory. Afterward, the invaders took possession of the lands and had contact with the indigenous people, whom the Portuguese described as savages.

Thanks to Prince Regent Dom João, Brazil ceased to be a Portuguese colony on December 16th, 1815, a status it had maintained for 315 years. (PL)