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Portugal Report Portugal Report
by Euro Reporter
2007-11-03 09:29:36
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Portugal to slash Afghanistan troops to just 15

Portugal will cut its military presence in Afghanistan by more than 90 percent from August 2008, Defence Minister Nuno Severiano Teixeria told parliament. They will reduce its contribution to NATO's International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) from 162 soldiers to a single C-130 transport plane and 15 soldiers to train members of the Afghan army, the defence minister said during a parliamentary commission meeting.

Mr Teixeira later told journalists that "the principles of rotation and the needs" of NATO were behind the planned troop reduction. "States which are engaged in the most difficult zones (of Afghanistan), such as Portugal, can make changes to troop numbers," he said.

Positive news from Portugal, although it would be better coming from either the US or UK, whose number of dead continues into the thousands and the cost of the war approaches trillions of dollars.

Encompassing the Globe

"Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th Centuries" exhibition explores the artistic achievements that flourished when Portuguese sailors braved international waters to create a global trading network and exposed new creative techniques and imagery to the world.

The exhibition features approximately 250 objects and can be seen at the Centre For Fine Arts, Brussels, through February 3, 2008. The Portuguese naval empire connected civilizations from all the known continents, transforming commerce and initiating unprecedented cultural exchange.

I doubt 'connecting' would be the world chosen by some of the South American, African or Sri Lankan nation, while Portugal was encouraging them all to embrace their religion.

Prize-winning cartoons on display in Portugal

Approximately 200 cartoons by artists from various countries who competed in this year's European Cartoon Contest are currently on display in Lisbon. Belgium's Ludo Goderis, who won the Grand Prize, France's Antonio Mongiello, who won the second prize, and Turkish cartoonist Musa Gümüş, who won third place, were given their trophies this week at a ceremony that also inaugurated the exhibition.

The exhibit, titled "Inequalities, Discrimination and Prejudice," runs through Nov. 22 at the Estação do Rossio, organized by the Portuguese Printing Press Museum, on the occasion of the designation of 2007 as the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All.

There are pieces by artists from 29 European countries, but Portugal had the highest number of entrants in the exhibition, with work by 16 Portuguese cartoonists on display. It does make you wonder if the Danes entered any of the cartoons from the Jyllands-Posten

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Alexandra Pereira2007-11-03 18:47:00
"I doubt 'connecting' would be the world chosen by some of the South American, African or Sri Lankan nation, while Portugal was encouraging them all to embrace their religion."
Well, religion, like political domination or armed forces, they all are instruments of colonization or domination, and they were already at that time. But Portugal was a too small country to dominate through bloody battles (eg. like the spanish and other european potencies did), so commerce was the way to go strategically (though it shamefully could mean at some point that everything could be traded, including slaves), and religion came attached with it, because of its lasting power over kings in the peninsula. But even religion was not so well succeeded, don't forget dozens of portuguese priests ended up murdered in japan in the 16th/17th centuries, shortly after

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-03 18:48:10
arriving there - only the sailors and traders survived then, but had to retrieve -, and even in south america catholic religion became incredibly mixed in Brazil with african religions and native beliefs, to form the most impressive of syncretisms (eg. candomblé, and some others). Few point that many of the sailors going in the vessels were mostly forced to do so because of poor conditions home (where catholic religion was imposed to them as well, and for centuries, since the arabs were forced to convert). Those sailors would miscegenate quickly when arriving somewhere else (that's the origin of some nut brown skin/green eyed cape verdians, for example), some wouldn't ever come back home.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-03 18:48:49
But if it wasn't for that "connection" (which has its political and religious stinking reasons) we would have no Camões "Lusiads" (the writer wouldn't have travelled to India in the 16th century and wouldn't have fell in love with an african woman then), no "Tropicalism" art movement in Brazil affirming after Pessoa "my country is the portuguese language" and the english would have no 5 o'clock tea ritual either, introduced in the royal palaces by a portuguese queen, after being imported from Japan to Portugal (not to mention western contact with nanbam art and folding screens - the name nambam comes from "big nose" by the way, the collective name japanese gave to the portuguese, the first western guys they saw and represented in art works).

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-03 18:49:32
The portuguese language, for example, has many japanese-origin, african-origin and south-american origin vocables. Well, connection did in fact exist, parallel to shameful aspects of colonization. But the portuguese had some experience of miscigenation themselves (that's why I have english, french, arabian and black ascendants, that's why 20% of Lisbon's population already in the 18th century was black), so sometimes their travellers were truly interested in connecting with different cultures (some of the most valuable cultural products in Portugal were born, by the way, through that exchange, and musicians, painters, writers, they all drink from it nowadays, knowing the richness it can bring).

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-03 19:08:29
There are two nice examples: one of the best portuguese language writers has angolan, brazilian and portuguese ascendants, and lives divided between the three countries (and continents). Once he (Agualusa) wrote a book based in true facts where a former slave woman becomes the most powerful slave owner and trader in Angola (this actually happened, and was polemic, obviously, and is intriguing in terms of human nature...). One of the best Mozambique writers has blue eyes, white skin and mixes portuguese with native languages and legends to create neologisms.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-03 19:27:08
So of course it was shameful, but one shouldn''t mix races and countries with religions, that''s the big mistake (and has been then). Catholic religion was also imposed in the peninsula, many centuries before, but also at the same time, with the dreadful Inquisition. Religion was a power instrument - over everybody. Women were accused of being witches in the Peninsula and abroad, inconvenient men of being Jews or homossexual, thus unfaithful. They were portuguese (and that''s what? being a proud mix of romans with celtics, morrocans with brazilians... and knowing nations don't really make sense), arrested in portuguese jails or burned in public squares. Thanks to religion used in the name of power.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-03 19:43:23
ps - The Olivenza case is a historic fait-divers (that maybe comes on wikipedia or so...) but the fact is no one cares about it nowadays. Nowadays, a great number of portuguese would like to be part of Spain, that's the truth, and form an Iberia or larger free-to-move-in more democratic, equal-rights union.

Asa2007-11-03 20:00:49
Thanks, that was very interesting.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-04 09:45:28
Interesting point on religion and cultural imperialism, Ms. Pereira. In Africa there are currently some 376 million Christians and some 329 million Muslims. That is a statistic and a fact with which not many would quarrel. It is the interpretation which usually proves to be a can of worms and well it should since Christianity is not a fledging Constitution born a few years ago but an historical phenomenon spanning two millennia. Nevertheless, it is not the statistics that prove interesting but the interpretations, when they are not superficial caricatures that is. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-04 09:50:27
There are some illustrations of Colombus (trained as a navigator in Italy whose tradition of trading with the far East went back to Marco Polo, and as a conquistador in Spain whose crusading tradition went back to the “reconquista”) landing on the shores of the new continent, planting the sword on it and claiming it for Spain while at the same time kneeling before it as a representation of the cross. It was that kind of cultural schizophrenia that must have created quite a bit of confusions and dismay in the indigenous natives’ mind (see the movie The Mission starring Robert De Niro), albeit to be fair and without resorting to shallow rationalizations, it should also be admitted that the religious missionaries (such as Bartolomeo de Las Casas and Francisco de Vitoria) were sometimes the ones to protestedd the political and cultural abuses of the conquistadors toward the natives. In any case Dante for one clear on the issue. He places three popes in hell and gives the rationale for their being there to the fact that they had confused the temporal and the spiritual thus being unfaithful to their proper role as spiritual guides. He traces the source of that unfaithfulness all the way back to Constantine and his alleged temporal donation to the Church and the abuse of religion for political purposes. Before Constantine, try as you may, you will not find many Christians going around as colonizing conquistaadors for their government and using religion as a tool of temporal power. So, in all fairness to religion, the whole story of Christianity needs to be told, warts and all, without resorting however to bashing and painting with a very wide brush the whole phenomenon, not to speak of religion in general.

Sand2007-11-04 10:42:38
Wow! Some warts!

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-04 17:08:00
Not satisfactorily wide slanderous brush with which to paint the caricatures and one's cliches about religion claiming reason on onw's side? If that is not a wart in itself, I don't know what is! I am afraid the emperor remains naked!

Sand2007-11-04 17:53:26
Paparella, you are so amusingly predictable. Once your mind set becomes petrified there is no accommodating to immediate circumstance. All I did was admire the Catholic bashing you committed. And so, true to your idiotic nature, you ascribed it to me. Funny!

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-04 19:05:57
Funny and amusing indeed! I suppose it adds to the rich diversity of this magazine. I would worry though if readers began taking your well known antics as serious proposals.

Sand2007-11-04 19:17:32
I understand, Paparella. Worry is beyond your capability. But what really puzzles me about you is your continuous vituperation. If I encountered a guy with a car with a flat tire and I pointed it out to him, he probably would be grateful so that he could fix it. He wouldn't accuse me of car bashing. Whereas you...
For someone so devoted to Christianity I have yet to see you act with the compassion and understanding that Christianity extols. Are you really a Christian? Perhaps, since you admire the old Greek Gods so much you are acting like the mischievous god Pan or even like a cuckoo crazy Zeus. Hmmm.

Alexandra Pereira2007-11-04 21:06:15
This could be funny in the beginning. Now you two get me deeply tired...

Sand2007-11-04 21:31:05
A good idea. It's my bedtime here in Helsinki.

Emanuel Paparella2007-11-04 23:28:44
Pleasant dreams to all (even if here we are seven hours behind) for while we sleep we dream and epiphanies and insights may suddenly come our way… I am in the process of rereading another story about another boy, no, not by Thomas Mann but by James Joyce (really himself): Araby, wherein Joyce works from what Jung calls a “visionary mode of artistic creation” or a literary creation, the kind of creation deriving its material from the hinterland of man’s mind, suggesting the abyss of time separating us from pre-human ages, and evoking a superhuman world of contrasting light and darkness. A primordial experience this surpassing man’s rational understanding. Having exhausted Mann’s Death in Venice we might try our hand at Joyce Araby, after proper recuperative sleep, and creative dreaming of course. What say ye?

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