sábado, 28 de julho de 2012

It's Portugal NOT Spain!

Just because I get annoyed when Portugal is confused with Spain, and portuguese with spanish I'll let you with texts I copied from the fantastic book from Barry Hatton "The Portuguese" (buy the book it's awesome).
I know I have put  a lot of the texts from the book here and hope the writer doesn't mind, but it's because I haven't found a better book than this to explain things like who are this folk, this country, why we are not Spain and our golden Era of Discoveries.
So if you don't know, Portugal is an independent country, Portugal is not Spain...Portugal is next to Spain and we are a much older country than Spain (Spain was only formed as a country as about 300 years after Portugal) and we are two different countries with almost nothing to do with each other so it's not acceptable everyone confuses us with Spain (even europeans).
I hope this helps you expalining the huge difference.

Portugal and Spain

"Portugal has two neighbours: the Atlantic Ocean and Spain. One of them was long viewed as a risky prospect, treacherous and dangerous; the other was wet.
Iberian history is largely a chronicle of two nations separated by their shared geography, a case of so near yet so far. Iberian's configuration invites comparisons between the portuguese and the spanish, and the similarities are obvious. But the differences, too, are pronounced.
Spain is roughly four times bigger, in area and population, and shunts Portugal into a remote corner, constituting a buffer between the portuguese and the rest of Europe .
Spain was traditionally Portugal's great adversary. Encroachment or even annexation by Castille, the expansionist kingdom that grew into the spanish state, was ever a menace. In portuguese foreign policy, this was for centuries "the Spanish Question". In the choreography of their relationship with Spain, the Portuguese trod warily around their pugnacious neighbour. And when they needed a powerful friend to help keep Spain at arm's length they turned to England, their oldest ally.
Agaisnt the odds, Portugal throughout history mostly resisted the gravitational pull of Madrid. Agostinho da Silva, a portuguese philosopher of the last century, observed, "Portugal's most remarkable feat in the world wasn't the maritime explorations nor the Christian reconquista nor the establishment of overseas territories. It was resisting Castile." The consequence was that the two countries turned their backs on each other and went their separate ways.

Castile has always rued the successes of the headstrong people of the west coast who stubbornly stood their ground.
Trouble first broke out in 1127 when, after a disagreement over who owned what, Afonso VII of Castile laid siege to the northern city of Guimarães. in response, a few months later in 1128, Afonso Henriques triumphed over Castile at the Battle of São Mamede and seized the country of Portucale, the northern part of the modern Portugal. In 1143, in the Treaty of Zamora, Castile begrudgingly recognized Afonso Henriques as ruler of that part of teh peninsula, though Portugal's first king had to pledge allegiance and pay an annual sum to Castille.
A papal bull of 1179 gave the vatican's blessing to Portugal's independent status.
Then a dispute over the rightful heir to the portuguese throne led juan I of Castile to invade, helped by french cavalry, inattempt to claim the crown, the portugusedelivered him a stinging defeat at the celebrated Battle of Aljubarrota in 1385.
But back again another crisis of succession brought belligerent Castile back over the border this time it recoreded a rare triumph in 1580. As the result, Felipe I of Spain was formally recognized as King of Portugal. Castille ruled for 69 years. Spanish are said to have terated the portuguese with contempt, portuguese had enough and staged a revolt in 1640, placing João IV on the throne and restoring home rule in gritty defiance to Castile. Even so, there were another five major armed showdowns with Castille between 1644 and 1665 before Castile gave up and endorsed Portugal's independence in 1668 [aleluia] - almost 500 years after the Vatican!
In an offshoot of the seven Years' War, which engulfed all Europe's major powers, Spain made another foray over the border in 172 [this guys never give up!], but with England jumping to Portugal's aid, it came to nothing. The last bilateral conflict between the two countries occurred in 1801.

Portugal was long the thorn in Spain's south-western side, a nagging reminder of Madrid's inability to claim the peninsula as wholly its own, to make itself complete. (In 1940 and in 1975 Franco's Spain drew up unconsummated plans to invade Portugal). Spaniards, it seems, have overcome this silent rebuke by putting Portugal out of their mind, pretending it does not exist.
It vexes the portuguese that they can understand spanish, and willingly get by in Spain by speaking a kind os spanish-accented portuguese with a few local words thrown in. But spaniards come to Portugal and just speak spanish. And if you reply to them in portuguese, they give you a blank look. They may live next door but they are no better equipped, after all, than any other foreigners to cope with the confounding portuguese language. It should be recalled, however, that portuguese harbour a secret pride about the inscrutability of their language.

Portugal went unshackled into the Atlantic while keeping a wary eye on its neighbour.
Claudio Sanchez Albornoz, a spanish historian and a former ambassador in Lisbon, concludes that the two nations have been kept apart by "centuries of hostility, centuries of apprehension, centuries of incomprehension, centuries of ambitions and fears.
Their different - to an unexpected degree - national characters led them into a quirky and complex relationship.
The portuguese do not on the whole possess the spontaneous vitality and vigour of their neighbours. Spanish brio, self-confidence and self-regard are largely absent from their collective character. Where spaniards are aggressive, self-assertive people, the portuguese are reserved and more attuned to indignation and humility.
After the 1974 military coup, which stood portuguese society on its head overnight, but cost only a handful of lives (compared with the spanish civil war which slaughtered hundreds of thousands), spaniards wondered out loud whether blood or water ran in portuguese veins. Just as unkindly, the spanish dictator General Franco reportedly commented that so few people were killed in that Carnation Revolution because the portuguese were cowards.
Portugal has not launched an unprovoked military attack on anyone since the 16th century. That was during the Age of discovery, when the two iberian countries so spectacularly spread their wings. While Spain bragged out about its conquests of that period, the portuguese celebrated their discoveries: they are a people who could be cruel, but never matched the scale of spanish bloodletting in latin America.
The portuguese are neither venomous nor hostile about Spain but resentt the way Spain ignore them. Spain's centuries-old lack of interest in Portugal is so complete that it almost seems studied. Weather forecasts on spanish television channels and in newspapers simply leave the rectangle along the left side of the peninsula blank.

Nowadays the two countries get along, but for centuries the relationship was frosty and puctuated with viril antagonism. Old portuguese proverbs reveal the antipathy: "from Spain neither good winds nor good marriages come", goes on, in a reference to the hot, dry wind from East that shrivels crops and,, it is thought to royal marriages that ill-advisedly attempted to bind the countries into one. An old spanish proverb is just as pointed: "strip a spaniard of all his virtues and you have a portuguese". Even now, the customary portuguese reference to spaniards being nuestros hermanos ("our brothers" in spanish) is tinged with irony. If the portuguese and spanish are branches of the same Iberian tree, they are estranged. The 19th century Alexandre Herculano admitted to an incorrigible individualism among his compatriots: "We are independent because that's just the way we like it: that is the total, absolute, incontestable reason for our national idividuality."

Of all the the patchwork of culturally distinctive regions on the peninsula that wanted to stay out of Madrid's clutches (Catalonia or Basque Country and Galicia), Portugal was the most succesful. Portugal, left on its won initiative blazed an independent trail that took it around the world, building an empire that enabled it to sustain itself. 

quarta-feira, 25 de julho de 2012

Catastrophic Meltdown in Greenland

I hardly could believe in the news today! [read: Greenland].
NASA hardly could believe too in what they just saw...NASA's scientists even thought this was an error...unfortunately it's not! In only 4 days, 97% of the ice covering Greenland melted! It's frightening! How could such amount of ice to melt in only 4 days? You know what this means? That global climate change is real, if anyone still having doubts now it's time to face the harsh reality: IT'S NOT! And things are changing really fast! It's all changing so fast and ourselves are changing so so slowly! It makes me think: will we have enough time to stop this catastrophe?
You know if too much ice melts, the oceans get less salty, it changes the oceans density and the Termohaline Stream, which controls the global climate patterns can be interrupted...if the stream it's interrupted we enter in a new Ice Age...and the last Ice Age lasted 10 000 years! you know what this means? Global mass extinction, and the end of our civilization as we know it!
As this wasn't serious enough, human greed can beat everything! Shell, oil company, wants to drill Greenland in order to oil for us, ordinary citizens who are feeding this rotten system denying it, can ride our fossil fuel's addicted cars and continue with this extreme capitalism economy who has no respect for humanity and environment costs. Greed can't blind us!
Time to wake up and change, before it's to late!
Sign the Avaaz petition here: Avaaz
And the Greenpeace petition: Save the Arctic

Posts related to Environment:
My inconvenient truth
October Hell

The portuguese Discoveries Era

Source: the fantastic book from Barry Hatton "The Portuguese"

A giant world map of inlaid marble, fifty metres across, lies flat on the ground in the riverside suburb of Belém, Lisbon. The map exhibits, in black, white, and ochre, the continents stamped with dates showing the year portuguese explorers arrive there, always one step ahead of other europeans. Small and cursed by a lack of natural resources, including good soil, portugal needed new lands to survive and flourish and its explorers radiated across the world until the the sixteenth-century empire ecompassed slices of Africa, asia and South America. Some million people a year walk over the Belém map, moving in crowds like 500 years ago when locals gathered here to behold the arrival of great ships heavy with the scent of spices, their cargoes worth millions of euros in today's money. You can watch the touurists milling around, looking down at their feet, trying to square now with then. They point at the dates when history was made and google at the portuguese empire. They look impressed, but it is hard to digest. Portuguese can find it hard too.

Perched on the riverbank, the Monument to the Discoveries is a majestic commemoration of that golden age. In pale stone, it justs out over the river, imitating the prow of a caravel - a pioneering type of sailing ship that Iberian explorers used for their unprecedented and perilous expedition across the Atlantic and beyond. Lined up on ledges along each side of the monument are about thirty bulky stone figures representing the heroes of the time. At the front stands Henry the Navigator, a prince who made the big push towards new frontiers at the end of the fifteenth century. Behind him, Bartolomeu Dias, who rounded Africa's southern trip; Vasco da Gama who pushed on to India; and Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed Brazil for the portuguese Crown. Ferdinand Magellan, a portuguese whose fleet was the first to circum-navigate the Earth, is there too though, inconveniently, he made that trip in Spain's name.

The Discoveries Era

In a giant collective journey, Portugal led Europe out of the Mediterranean into the Atlantic and brought Asia and Europe together.
After taking of Ceuta in North Africa in 1415, the empire was expanded steadily. The portuguese settled in Madeira and the Azores [two islands in the middle of the Atlantic ocean], then explored down Africa's west coast until they understood how to get to India by sea.  They knew there was a sea to the east and so, the thinking went, maybe if they edged their way down the west coast they might find a way through.
The portuguese Bartolomeu Dias foreshadowed the later prosperity by becoming one of the first European round what was aptly called the Cape of Storm (later the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa). Adam Smith, the eighteenth-century political economist, judged this milestone to be one of "the two greatest and most important events recorded in the history of mankind" - along with the discovery of America by Christopher Columbus.
Vasco da Gama set sail on 8 July 1497 with four ships, then months later, on 20 May, Vasco da Gama anchored at Calicut, a major Indian trading port on the country's west coast. It may have been a great step for mankind but da Gama's goals were prosaic, as summed up in his famous phrase on stepping foot in the East: "we are looking for christians and spices". The portuguese came across a wonderful natural harbour on the Indian coast which they called bom baim, meaning "good little bay" in 16th century portuguese. They later gave  the settlement to the english who anglicized its name, making it Bombay.
Pedro Álvares Cabral, an expert seaman from a noble seafaring family, drew up at Brazil's shores in 1500. He was ostensibly sailing to India, and it is still not clear whether he was fortuitously blown off course or whether his stated destination was a feint to throw Castile off the scent. Either way, Brazil opened a new horizon for the portuguese, as if one they already had in the East was not enough. The initially named the new land Terra de Vera Cruz (land of the true Cross). The small group of europeans who first disembarked there was overwhelmed by the magical world overflowing with natural riches they encountered. 
Portugal, a tiny country of about one million people at the time, claimed a country that would end up being the size of western Europe.
The portuguese were the first westerns to disembark in Japan and start trading there, in 1543. The Japanese termed them namban, meaning "barbarians from the south", the direction they sailed in from. Words in both languages are still bear witness to that long-ago contact. In japanese, for example, there is pan, for bread (pão in portuguese) and shabon (soap, sabão); portuguese offers catana (katana) for a kind of machete and biombo (byoobu) for a screen. 
The portuguese began to appear all around the world. They planted their flag on islands that nowadays belong to Indonesia. They established a trading post in East Timor, though only began to take real advantage of the Asian territory from the late eighteenth century when they built its capital, Dili. The Portuguese built forts in faraway places, including two dozen around teh Red Sea and Persian Gulf. Some of the ruins can still be seen, including the forts at Hormuz, keshm and Lanak from the early sixteenth century which protected the entrance to the Persian Gulf. (Other forts may be chanced upon in Ethipia, Tanzania or Kenya). 
The country's military successes so far from home merit tribute. 
 The portuguese dominated the tremendously lucrative spice trade for most of the sixteenth century, conferring a new political and economic dimension on their tiny patch of the European continent.
The portuguese capital became a european depot for goods from around the world. The downtown district now called the Baixa was one of Europe's busiest mercantile spots. The narrow streets contained amber and rubies from Burma, diamonds from India, pearls from Ceylon, gold from Mozambique, spices and bolts of cloth from East.
Lisbon was a colourful, cosmopolitan emporium, a swanky, vibrant metropolis which invented its own architectural style called Manueline, named after King Manuel to show off the country's wealth. They were enthralling times indeed.
Spain initially lagged behind Portugal in its expansion, but in 1494 the iberian neighbours signed the treaty of Tordesillas, Carving up between them the spoils of the newly discovered - and to be discovered- world. The portuguese savour the possibility that the scope of the treaty was a clever ruse on their part. At a time when geographical knowledge was limited and precious, the land that would become Brazil fell inside the Tordesillas demarcation of Portugal's domain. Certainly there is room to speculate that the portuguese were unforthcoming, to put it politely, in their dealings with their bigger peninsular rival. Portuguese seafareres on their way back from the East tacked close to the South American continent to avoid the east Atlantic doldrums and there is a suspicion that they had already happened across what would become Brazil. Also, there is an intriguing ten-year gap between the 1488 voyage around the Cape of Good Hope by Bartolomeu Dias and Vasco da Gama's journey onwards to India. Were there other reconnaissance trips between those dates that the portuguese did not let on about? Were they really sitting on their hands during the white-hot period of maritime exploration which they had started and led? And why did the portuguese king turn dowm Columbu's offer to try and find a way to the Orient by sailing west? Did the king already know it was a way to Orient by sailing west? Did the king already know it was a wasted effort? While Columbus went one way, the king ordered a fleet of naus to be built and sent to the expedition south. Without doubt, there were plenty of skulduggery. Maps, especially, were hugely valuable and jealously guarded. And the portuguese, staking out land masses with their astrolabes, possessed some of the best available.What is for sure is the glee the portuguese feel at the prospect of outsmarting Spain - a possibility always guaranteed to bring joy to a portuguese heart. Cunning is also a valued attribute. The portuguese have had little choice in this respect: throughout history, as a small country, Portugal has been at the mercy of more powerful nations.
Not only were the noble seafarers bent on getting rich, they were also driven by religious prejudice against Islam. Like others, they saw themselves as agents of a biased God. There was pillage, plunder and slaughter in the name of Christianity and the king- and wealth. Success in the overseas enterprise required an uncompromising attitude, a killer instinct.Their actions were sometimes unscrupulous, sometimes consummated on the back of bloody rampages.

While a romantic spirit alloyed with toughness of character led the portuguese to conquer the merciless surf, their maritime endeavour also begat, or encouraged, unhelpful national characteristics that portended their demise.While England and Netherlands invested the money they made from the spice trade, the portuguese frittered it away. The Age of Discovery was a time of plenty, a cue to spend, spend, spend. Antero de Quental, a nineteenth-century writer, remarked: "Never has a people soaked up so much treasure and reminded so poor."
The Age of Discovery also brought complancency. In that sense, the portuguese were the architects of their own decline.
Undoubtedly, Portugal burned brightly during the Age os Discovery. Bursting out of a small country which offered them a few opportunities, the portuguese demonstrated audacity and mettle as they grabbed their chance and made the most of it before the door closed. Their achievements were staggering, few countries accomplished so much from so little.
Naturally there is a certain nostalgia for that period.
Mention of the Age of Discovery can evoke opposing ideas: Padre António Vieira, the 17th jesuit priest, considered one of the country's best ever prose writers, classified the portuguese world as the "Fifth Empire" - after the Assyrian, Persian, Greek and Roman empires but Fernando Pessoa (famous poet) contemplated the Then and Now and drew a gloomy conclusion: Portugal is nowadays, he said, " a drop of dry ink on the hand that wrote an Empire".

The portuguese were the first europeans to arrive in sub- Saharan Africa, and they were the last to leave.

There are layers of the imperial residue in the mundo lusófono - the portuguese-speaking world. Portugal, which was dwarfed by its giant overseas possessions, left its footprint where it went and came home with soil on its shoes.The at times enigmatic likenesses between the metropole and its former colonies are evidence of an enriching cultural overlap during half a millenium of colonial rule. 
Yet there is also a darker side to the account of Portugal's overseas adventures, and the question of to what extent the portuguese were saints or sinners has gone largely unaddressed.

The fall of the portuguese empire and a deep-felt kinsip with ex-colonies:
When Portugal's post- Carnation Revolution leaders handed africans the keys to their own countries , the new owners obtained no automatic freedom or justice. In fact, the former colonies paid a high price for Portugal«s scramble to get out Africa. The sudden exit cerated a power vacuum which coincided with the Cold War's ideological antagonism. Those african countries' new political leaders took sides and became proxies as East and West confrontedeach other on african soil.  Angola suffred the most, because its huge oil reserves made it a tempting prize - and proved to be a curse. Cuban soldiers and Moscow money backed Angola's Marxist government wjhile South African troops and CIA did their best to bring it down by helping the opposition with weapons and cash. Angola's civil war became Africa's longest post-colonial conflict. It killed hundreds of thousands of civilians before its end in 2002. Mozambique also succumbed to civil war, which lasted until 1992. All the former african colonies became saddled with single-party marxist governments for more than a decade, arresting their development.
Unproductive political feuding and other ills have dogged these countries ever since. 
The presentation of a 2009 Oxford University workshop on portugue-speaking nation put it thus"Features present in the politics of all countries, patronage and corruption are perhaps of greater public concern and more fundamental to the working of politics in Lusophone countries than in some other states". Angola, with its giant oil and diamond reserves, is guilty of corruption on a spectacular scale, human rights groups say.
East Timor fared even worse. While the africans turned on each other after the portuguese departure the timorese were invaded and subjected to a brutal occupation by indonesia, which annexed the nearvy territory of around one million mostly impoverished people. Thousands were jailed, tortured and murdered as the world mostly turned a blind eye. Portugal did not posses enough diplomatic strength to do much about it, and the major protagonists in the strategic equation - Australia and the United States - blamed Portugal for creating the problem in the first place by leaving so hastly. The indonesian atrocities continued until a particular appaling massacre in 1991 grabbed the world's attention. The outcry led, eventually, to a United Nations - sponsored referendum on independence which the timorese finally gained in 2002.
The portuguese felt terribly guilty about the timorese suffering. Leaving africans to fight each other over the post-continental spoils was one thing; throwing a helpless former colony to the wolves was another.Confronted with the carnage on their evening television news, and trying somehow to make amends, the portuguese amends staged mass protests not seen since the 1974 Revolution.  Traffic in towns and cities across the country stopped at a designated time, people climbing out of their vehicles and standing in the road to observe a one-minute silence. Tens of thousands of people used a free number to send fazes of protest to the United Nations in New York. A similar number of people lined up the streets of Lisbon and waved white handkerchiefs to welcome East Timor bishop Carlos Belo, by then a refugee and soon to be a nobel peace laureate, as he drove through the city from the airport. It was a sign of deep-felt kinship that would be hard to fathom without knowing the back-story that stretched 10 000 km and 500 years. In the aftermath of the struggle, east Timor's first independent government adopted portuguese as its official language - a gest that suggested a certain sentimentality, since that region's major languages are Indonesian and English and fewer than 10% of East Timorese speak portuguese fluently.
Goa (in India), still possesses reminders of its portuguese bloodline, even though its colonial zenith was in the 16th century when this city was nicknamed "the Rome of the East" due to the generous number of catholic churches the portuguese built in the jungle. Goa also preserved the house where Vasco da Gama lived and possesses other easily identifiable colonial buildings. Some among the locals still have portuguese surnmaes such as Fernandes, Pereira and gonçalves, though few speak portuguese..
Macau 8in China), where the portuguese began to put down roots in the mid-sixteenth century, was one of the rare European toeholds in China. It was also the first and the longest-lasting (as with sub- Saharian Africa and India, the portuguese were the first europeans to settle and the last to depart=. Macau spent 442 years under portuguese rule though largely overshadowed during that time by nearby Hong kong and Singapore. Chinese and portuguese, asian and western culture, mixed cheek-by-jowl in an unlikely blend, and still do: the downtown area is a UNESCO World heritage site because of the portuguese architecture. China and its language, however, were long dominated before 1999 when the portuguese flag was run down and power handed over. Still, amid Macau's Las Vegas-style casinos to which mainland Chinese enthusiastically flock there remain portuguese street names and shops signs and pavements, there is also the first western-style lighthouse in China, courtesy of the portuguese.
Portugal's colonial genealogy allows it to claim the broadest global spread of UNESCO world heritage sites of any country. Its most common physical legacy in its former possessions are forts and religious buildings, those symbols of the Cross and teh Crown. Portuguese built monuments crop up in the oddest places, unless you are familiar with portuguese history. There is a 16th century portuguese church, called Santa Cruz, in Bangkok, for instance: the portuguese were the first europeans to reach what is now Thailand.
Brazil is perhaps the most estranged of the portuguese offspring. It went its own way almost two centuries ago, long before the other colonies got to stand on their own two feet. Even so, Brazil was part of the empire for more than 300 years, and kinship is evident. Salvador da Bahia, Brazil's first capital looks like Macau's downtown, like a little bit of Portugal stranded on another continent, more 6000 km across the ocean. Portuguese who go there nowadays are astonished by the patent similarities. They, like the tourists who marvel the Monument of Discoveries in Lisbon, stare in disbelief at how far the empire extended.
A seminal event set Brazil apart. The portuguese royal family, the court, senior officials and soldiers - more than 10,000 people in all - fled there en masse in 1870 to escape a french army invading Portugal. Their arrival dictated an elevation in the colony's status. Portugal's capital was switched to Brazil, the territory essentially beccame self-governing, and public buildings of appropriate distinction had be put up. In 1822, chafing at Lisbon's insistent meddling, Brazil unilaterelly declared independence, an occasion synthesized in the moment when Pedro the Prince Regent [portuguese], by the Ipiranga river near São Paulo, is said to have shouted, "Independence or death". In modern portuguese, when someone is rebelling against unbearable circumstances they are metaphorically said to be expressing "the cry of Ipiranga". 
It is nowadays the orthodoxy of the countries' ruliing elites that Portugal and Brazil are siblings - not former colony and former colonial power. The portuguese refer to Brazil as their Grande Nação Irmã (Great Sister Nation) and segunda pátria (second homeland). 
Brazil features prominently in one of the unflattering threads of Portuguese history. A joint documentary by the BBC and the History Channel in 2000, coinciding with the 500 th anniversary of Brazil's discovery, was entitled "Brazil: an inconvenient History". It cas a light on a dark fact which many have been reluctant to confront: slavery.
 The portuguese transported to South America at least 4 million african captives - some ten times more than the number taken to North America by other European countries. 
The portuguese do not dwell on this aspect. School textbooks divulge pages and pages about the feats of Discoveries, but cover just the bare bone of the country's almost four centuries of slavery.
Surprisingly for a country viewed at the time as laggng behind progress made in the European Enlightenment, Portugal in 1761 became the first Western European country to ban slaving, at least partly. The Marquis of Pombal, a sometime modernizer then running the government for King José I, outlawed slaving in mainland Portugal and its possessions in India. In 1836 Portugal the transatlantic slave trade but only more than three decades later, in 1869, capitulated to international pressure and abolished slavery in its African colonies. 
The first words of Portugal's national anthem are, "Heroes of the sea, noble people, valiant nation". But the portuguese are largely unburdened by recollections of the more disagreeable aspects of the Age of Discovery and the ensuing colonial empire. They barely mention them, and are broadly unaware of them because they are absent from the school syllabus and general cultural discourse. The boilerplate version of history dates from the 20th century dictatorshipSalazar and his propagandists cynically crafted a political artifice that was so neat, so flattering, that has endured: Salazar's New State fabricated the myth that the portuguese empire was benevolent and laudable.
Ask just about any portuguese and they will tell you: portuguese colonialism was kindly and beneficial.
It does not require much effort, it must be said, to imagine the portuguese as relatively congenial colonialists. They are by nature so affable, so willing to get along with anybody, that their colonies were bound to be different in style from those of others. Pope John Paul II, on a trip to Angola in 1992, observed: "the portuguese settlers lived with africans; other settlers lived among africans", Their tolerant disposition probably also helps expalin how they lasted so long in Macau, despite being harassed by british and dutch forces looking for weaknesses in the portuguese empire. Lisbon's national archive holds a 1753 letter from chinese emperor Qianlong to king José I which is almost effusive in its diplomatic warmth. Written in chinese, portuguese and manchu on a roll of yellow silk almost four metres long, the letter exalts the kindly manner of the portuguese in their dealings with the emperor's father and grandfather. 
The british historian Charles Boxer, conceded in his Raleigh Lecture at the British Academy in 1961 that the portuguese "had,as a rule, less colour prejudice" than other western colonizers and "often earned themselves a friendly feeling", which the clipped coolness of their european rivals was unable to match. But Boxer assessed the "brute force" dimension of the conquests too. 
They were brutish times, and all sides committed atrocities.
The former colonies' view of their one-time ruler is not always flattering . While some brazilians regard Portugal as their cultural fountainhead, others- especially ameridians and blacks - perceive the portuguese arrival as an event heralding the the inequality and injustice which continued ever since. On the 500th anniversary of Vasco da Gama's landfall in goa also created controversy. Portugal put on a big celebration to mark the national hero Gama's breakthrough. But some in India, and especially Goan nationalists, were outraged. For them, Gama was a cruel and rapacious intruder and a harbinger of 450 years of colonial oppresion. They even accused him of genocide. Several Goan political parties united to form the Patriotic Citizens' Committee whose supporters marched in protest and burnt an effigy of Vasco da Gama at a rally. The Indian government, embarrassed, had to tell the portuguese that it was pulling out of the commemorations. 
The portuguese anthropologist Luis Quintais says: "We think of our colonization as having been soft, or mild, compared to other european countries. But it wasn't, it was the same".
As the british historian Edward Gibbon remarked (and he was not only thinking of the portuguese empire), "the history of empires is the history of human misery".

segunda-feira, 23 de julho de 2012


The main colours of the portuguese flag are red, representing the people's combative spirit and military conquest through history; green, standing for hope; and white, to render the values of peace and harmony. 

Book from Barry Hatton, british journalist:


"As a Lisbon-based foreign correpondent for more than two decades, I have written thousands of articles about Portugal, but I'm forced to acknowledge - it feels like a rebuke- that this country remains a country little know abroad, even in the rest of Europa, even in Spain.
That was one of the reasons for writing this book: to plug a gap, I hope, and to wake foreigners up to Portugal's enduring appeal. Wider recognition is owed to its fascinating history, which includes the first steps towards globalization and a spell as the world's richest nation; its climate, which is agreeable as the gentle and hospitable portuguese people; a captivating variety of countryside within a relativelly small space and a food that bis good.
Some twelve million tourists come to Portugal each year, but many of them head straight to the many delightful beaches. Most could probably name a portuguese football player, or identify port wine as a portuguese product. But beyond that foreigners know little of the real Portugal, and find it very hard to fathom. In this effort they are handicapped, first of all, by unfamiliarity. How often do you read about portugal in your daily paper? How much does the general public abroad know about, say, the Age of Discovery and Portugal's four-continet empire [..]?
This country can be all the more baffling if it is approached on the premise that it must be like Spain, which it is not. The seemingly impenetrable language, the sound of which was once likened to windsurfing from consonat to consonant, is another barrier. My intetion, then, is to shine a light in this enigmatic corner of Europe.
Portugueses long ago took the role of indomitable underdogs arrayed against more potent forces that would submerge them, but which, with varying degrees of success, they resist. The adversary, in historical terms, may be the perilous ocean or bigger, rival countries. It might be their own national leaders. The foe could also be identified as something vaguer, such as a cruel fortune.
A common sentiment among the portugueses is that the odds are stacked against them, that they are playing a losing game with fate. Since the glorious Age of Discovery - also called the Age of Exploration or Expansion - in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, when Portuguese seafarers valiantly met peril and menace head-on and took lead in shapping the modern world, Portugal has mostly been riding the anchor. Fernando Pessoa ), regarded as one of the country's greatest poets, in 1928 described the nation as "slumbering" since those maritime feats. There is a residual sense of loss.
Portugal, once an envied world power and, in the sixteenth century, arguably the world's wealthiest nation, has become an unheard land.
It appeared that Portugal had put its protracted difficulties when it joined the European Union, then called the European Economic Community, in 1986. Economic boom years gave the impression that the country had finally found its path to prosperity and parity with the rest of the continent. It blossomed and came to be viewed as a model European State. Portugal silenced the detractors by racking up triumphs - making the grade, for example, to be allowed into the club of countries adopting the common euro currency after northern European officials had mockingly dismissed its chances.
Still, Portugal - along with Spain, Italy and Greece - was viewed by some northern European diplomats as an incorrigible slacker, and they condescendingly lumped the southern European countries together under the moniker "Club Med". It hinted at a certain disdain, or superciliousness, which would surface again in the 2009 financial crisis when the term PIGS- denoting Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain - was employed to describe the countries seen as fiscally lax, even though the four were not alone in overstepping the line.
But the sense of well-being was short-lived . Portugal was ambushed by the EU's late twentieth--century eastward expansion, which saw the bloc's balance of power see-saw back away from the continent's south western corner, and by globalization, which drew back the curtain on apparently immutable portuguese weaknesses.
As Western Europe's poorest country, accounting for only around 1% of EU's GDP, Portugal had a very hard time navigating the obstacles of the 21 century, at one point prompting "The Economist" magazine to brand it "the sick man of Europe".
By 2009 the portuguese average montly salary stood at just under a measly 900€ and the minimum monthly wage, taken home by several hundred thousands portuguese, was - embarrassingly - under 500 € (in Luxembourg it was about 1500€). The Organization for Economic cooperation and Development (OECD), exposing continental inequalities, states that the portuguese earn on average about 40% less than workers in other Western European countries. The European Union reported in 2008 that about 18% of the portuguese population - rougly 2 million people - were living below the point where it drew the bloc's poverty line. Only Poland and Latvia were worse off.
The portuguese candidly say of themselves, "We are an envious people". It is a hallmark of countries where the gap between rich and poor is broad and deep: statistics show that in Portugal this gulf is the biggest in Western Europe. Perhaps more importantly, there is not much hope of bridging it.
Portugal lives in Europe's suburbs, far from where the action is, clamped into a corner by Spain and confronted by the Earth's second-largest ocean,,whose vastness makes anyone feel small. Portugal seldom shows up on the radar screen of the world news. The portuguese are infuriated by the way international television channels regularly omit their little south-west rectangle in continental weather forecasts and take it as a snub. 
When I told my eldest, portuguese-born daughter, then fifteen, that I was writing this book her immediate response was: "Oh dad, don't make us out to be a bunch of yokels. That's what everyone thinks of us".
Pessoa even noted that "Portugal is a vague small country somewhere in Europe, sometimes supposed to be part of Spain."
It is taken for granted that Portugal is an unconsidered country in global affairs. It is why the American satirical magazine The Onion, during the 2008 US presidential election election could make a joke out of it in a spoof questionnaire for candidates: "How would Hillary Clinton deal with a nuclear-capable Portugal?". Then there was Homer's threat in an episode of The Simpsons when he went to watch a football game between Portugal and Mexico: "I'll kill myself if Portugal doesn't win!". The joke, apparently, lies in the question: how could anyone take so seriously a place that many would find hard to locate on the world map? Truth is stranger than fiction: a friend who works for a global US media organization was discussing a story idea on the the phone with an american editor in New York who after ten minutes interrupted with the question: "Where did you say Portugal was again?".
The sense of feeling unheeded is perhaps why the portuguese make so fuss when their country occasiolly does merit some media coverage abroad. 
Conversely, the portuguese, while quick to criticize their own country, are easily stung by disapproving foreigners. That has long been the case as they felt disparaged and disregarded by bigger countries, and it is no less true now amid the mood of dejection and low self-esteem.
The singular language is another handicap to more intimate  acquaintance with Portugal. Travel through Europe and people cannot identify what language you are speaking, much less what you are saying. Brows furrow when people hear portuguese, as if they are trying to place a rare smell or flavour. Once, a Dutch woman asked me and my family what we were speaking. When we told her, she said "Oh! I thought it was Hebrew or something!".
On the other hand this ignorance rankles. Some 220 million people around the world speak portuguese as their native tongue. If more people speak portuguese than speak french, german, italian or japanese, how can it be deemed "minor"? The great bulk of portuguese-speakers are in the remnants of the bygone empire: Brazil and the five former portuguese colonies in Africa as well as East Timor in Asia. 
On the other hand, the portuguese find such linguistic incomprehensdion flattering. It makes them feel special. and they love the way foreigners find it so hard to speak well.
Portuguese is a common language spoken by more than 200 million people and much is made of this in Portugal, but the reality, however, is that the portuguese is the least consenquential of the major tongues. As the internationally aclaimed mozambican novelist Mia Couto baldhas gone largely unaddressed.ly express it: "The portuguese language is down at the bottom. I only exist because I translate into french".

Anyone who spends any length of time getting to know Portugal, though, might conclude that Western Europe's poorest country is in some ways its wealthiest. Large swathes of underveloped countryside make a rare natural idyll, likened by the Renaissance epic poet Camões - in a poetic flourish guaranteed to appeal a national sentiment - to a garden guranteed by the sea" In truth Portugal possesses some of the most stunningly beautiful places you have never heard of.
For a start, its geography offers a fascinating mosaic of contrasting features. Continental Portugal, up to just 561 km (305 miles) long and 218 km (135 miles) wide, packs a lot of unexpected variety into small place.

Portugal was the first European nation to  adopt its local tongue as its official language. Latin was used by the royal courts and the courts of law during the Middle Ages, but Portugal's sixth king, Dinis (1261-1325), decreed portuguese the official language of government.

The portuguese work to live, they not live to work.

Black blood courses in the veins of some one million portuguese, the legacy of generations of unabashed ethnic intermingling: "God created blacks and whites. The portuguese cretated the mulatto", they used to say.
There is little racial friction in Portugal - at least of the most conspicuous sort. Portuguese who lived there in colonial times express a wistful, nostalgic fondness for Africa. And as a tolerant people, the portuguese recoil from the idea of discrimination. In 2007, a survey of 27 EU countries and Canada by Brussels- based Migration policy Group placed Portugal second- best, after Sweden, at integrating immigrants.

terça-feira, 3 de julho de 2012

Thousands of pets abandoned in Greece due to the Crisis

This is extremely  horrible! A few days ago I watched on TV a report about the phenomenon of the increasing number of stray dogs and cats in Athens. Only in the capital of Greece, Athens, thousands of dogs and cats are abandoned each day, some are attached to trees because their owners didn't want them to follow them or they are found on trash cans!
The reason? crisis! With the crisis people don't have money for themselves and to feed them or their families, there is an increasing number of abandoned children too, and the number of homelessness increases too day by day and the number of suicides due to the crisis too!
But that's when I read on the newspapers even more horrible things, I read that an inhabitant in Athens said that she suspects that the number of dogs are decreasing because it's been saying that people are eating dogs! That's horrible if it's true! Horrible to eat dogs of course but horrible of have to eat dogs for not having anything else to eat since they have no money to buy anything!
Can you face greek's people's despair? in a population of about 10 million people: 2 million were thrown to the most abject misery and have no source of income, not even state subsidies! So they live of charity!
There's how greeks are: with no sovereignity, no hope, no dignity!
Meanwhile I just can't hear the perfect nordics saying all the time "lazy greeks they have to pay for their debt!", even if they got anything? Not even their dignity? Is that it? pay until the last straw of blood? Is this you call Europan Union that was based upon solidarity ideals? As it was not enough people suffer and starve now it's greek's pets time to suffer and die too? WTF Europe is doing!!!?
Meanwhile Germany is doing a great deal out of other countrie's debts, achieving minimum levels of unemployment, getting their incomes raised and their debt interest rates putting down to negative levels...when other countries pay high interest rates!
Germany is making a great business out of this even if this means the destruction of Europe and europeans folk (again)...and they despise this: Germany needs Euro, if Euro falls it is estimated that the unemployment german rates would double and they would lose 10% of their PIB!
I think the question here is not: should Portugal or Greece to get out Euro, the question is should Germany continue in Euro and European Union after their arrogant and possessive behaviour (typical of a nazi) for other countries? It's because Germany showed again that don't know how to fit in an European Project, and no way should be in charge of Europe as Germany is right now: Germany rules Europe without listening to other's countries needs and their drama and that's very dangerous as we can see.
Germany in the last century was a conflict source that caused two World Wars due to German thirst of domain of Europe and History tell us that debt and unemployment carry out the end of democrartic regimes, then the hunger and finally war! We can't let the Utopia of Europe to be destoyed! 
I never liked Germany and always intrepreted the german flag colours this way: black of the hate, red of blood they caused and yellow of gold which means wealth...the previous nazi flag? the colours were red and black too...so for the last time show the World that germans and Germany  are changed because that's NOT what you're showing...and your behaviour has no place in the European Union: so change yourself as a country and folk or you get out without disturbing anyone!

Related posts:
suicide in front of parliament shakes Greece
Germany: pay back to Greece!
Euro zone or german zone?
Europe: a german federal republic?
The pact of Redemption
the future of Greece belongs to the greeks
Elections in greece 2012
New elections in Greece
Is nazi Europe back?
Wilkommen im neunen Europa
European Disunion
German answer to greek crisis: sell us your islands!
Lagarde orders greeks to pay their taxes