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President's comments spark international controversy

Speaking at an event with foreign correspondents late on Tuesday, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa did not mince his words when commenting on the history of colonialism and current national politics.

On Portugal's colonial history, Rebelo de Sousa said Portugal "takes full responsibility" for the wrongs of the past and that those crimes, including colonial massacres, had "costs".

"We have to pay the costs," he said. "Are there actions that were not punished and those responsible were not arrested? Are there goods that were looted and not returned? Let's see how we can repair this."

The declarations seems to have caught the Government by surprise, which has already deemed them "toxic". "None of this was discussed with us or with the previous government," sources in the executive confirmed to Expresso.

The comments received wide attention in the international press at a time when Portugal celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution.

Following the comments, Brazil's Minister of Racial Equality called for "concrete actions" by Portugal: "Our team is already in contact with the Portuguese government to discuss how to think about these actions and what steps will be taken from here."

But that's only a small part of it.

During the event on Tuesday, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa also confided to journalists that he had cut ties with his son over the scandal involving the preferential treatment of two Portuguese-Brazilian twins. "It's unforgivable, because he knows that I have a public and political position, and I pay for it," quoted Correio Braziliense, which reported the matter.

He also made controversial comments about Portugal's political situation. He said that new Prime Minister Luís Montenegro "takes a lot of work", is very "unpredictable" and comes from a "deep country". "He comes from a deep, urban-rural country, with rural behaviour," he said.

For Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the current prime minister "is very curious, difficult to understand, precisely because of that". "I'm surprised every day, because he's imaginative and has a way of thinking that's like a traditional country," he said. "It's stimulating, but it's a lot of work for me," he continued.

The government didn't want to comment on these statements either.

President Marcelo also had opinions to share about former Prime Minister António Costa: "António Costa was slow because he was from the East [born in Portugal, António Costa is of Goan descent)."

He added: "Montenegro is not oriental, but he is slow, he has the time of a rural country, albeit an urbanised one. He reminds me of the old PSD, which was like that. The PS was Lisbon, greater Lisbon, the metropolitan areas, and the PSD was the rest of the country, especially the north and the north centre."

The main PSD and PS parties refused to comment on these statements, but the parties with parliamentary seats harshly criticised Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa's words, saying that they demonstrate "bad taste" and a "betrayal of the fatherland".

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