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President says colonial reparations are already underway

Photo Credit: Miguel Figueiredo | Presidência da República

On a state visit to Cape Verde, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa returned to the topic of colonial reparations to say that they are already taking place through Portugal's "growing" co-operation with the former colonies.

"The support we give, the co-operation we have, the partnerships" are a repair "that is already being done" and "will continue to be done", he said, falling in line with the Government's official position.

"It's a process" that "is growing", he said on arrival in Cape Verde, during a visit to the Portuguese School in Praia.

President Marcelo refuted that it "a mistake" to raised the issue in the way he did:"I merely repeated what I said (a year earlier) at the Assembly of the Republic," adding that he did so now because he was questioned.

"It's an old idea of mine. It's an idea that has borne fruit over the last 50 years" through "intense co-operation", he declared, saying that he was in line with the government, which has already pointed to co-operation with Portuguese-speaking countries as the way forward in relations with the former colonies.

He rejected that the way he posed the question was a mistake, and also the idea that he was backtracking on what he said.

Regarding the criticism he has been subjected to, he considered it to be something that derives from democracy.

Last Saturday, the Portuguese Government issued a terse statement saying that it "follows the same line" as its predecessors on reparations: "There was and there is no process or programme of specific actions for this purpose."

"[And] not lightly, I think. So it's just as legitimate to do it here with Portuguese journalists as it is to do it at a meeting with foreign journalists," he said.

"That's democracy. Remember that I spent 50 years commenting on everyone and every fact of Portuguese life. How can I not accept all the criticism coming from all the people?" he concluded.

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