Thursday, May 18, 2017

Fly Portugal Fly............. (reblogging)

written by Stewart Lloyd-Jones May 14 at 9:30am · Dundee, United Kingdom ·
It is nice to see a country I love come out from behind its own shadow and proclaim itself with such confidence. People might dismiss last night's triumph as just a song competition that means little, or last year's victory in France as just a football competition between teams of millionaires. But to simply dismiss these achievements as unimportant really misses the point. As a country and as a people, Portugal and the Portuguese took a long time to get over the loss of empire and the decline in status that was clearly demonstrated to them with the French invasion and the British occupation of the Napoleonic era, followed by the departure of the royal family to Brazil and decades of constitutional and dynastic conflicts leading up to the Mapa Cor da Rosa (Pink Map) affair when the Great Powers (esp. the UK) swept Portugal's interests in Africa aside (not to mention the secret agreement between the UK and Germany to divide Portugal's African possessions between them - a plan that was foiled only by the outbreak of WWI). During the First Republic, the Portuguese government sought to legitimise itself by effectively begging the UK to allow it to enter the war as a belligerent - which was followed by the humiliation of the Portuguese Expeditionary Force being placed under British command and its contribution (perhaps accurately) described as more of a weakness than a strength. Then a further 10 years of political and social chaos before a military dictatorship that led to the New State under Salazar who thought the Portuguese people were like children who needed to be distracted from politics by religion, sport and music (Fátima, futebol e fado). Then came the 1974-76 revolution which, after a brief flourishing of popular political expression, was shut down by politicians who established a democratic regime whose leaders have for decades been telling the people that small, poor Portugal should be grateful to be in this club and that they should just get on with their lives quietly and accept the colonisation by wealthy northern Europeans and who should accept their language is too difficult for foreigners to learn, so they should all speak English... The Portuguese have spent centuries being told they are "too small, too poor and too stupid" and that expressions of national pride or achievement are vulgar (see the link with Scotland here?). Now the Portuguese are beginning to express themselves and to stand proud at what they can achieve - for now it might just be through two of Salazar's distractions (futebol and fado - and with the canonisation of two of the shepherd children by Pope Francis yesterday - Fátima), this source of pride and confidence runs deeper - and is shown in the election of a left-wing government that has moved to abandon the neoliberal orthodoxy and undo the damage caused by its predecessor. To elect such a government at such a time and in such a context showed real balls. It is like watching a butterfly emerge from the chrysalis... Fly Portugal. Fly. (some artistic licence employed)

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