Cultural Diplomacy

Across seas yet to be navigated

Paulo Morais

President of 'Frente Cívica'

Universality is the most striking characteristic of the Portuguese people, in the words of Agostinho da Silva. And that’s just how it is: for more than five hundred years, the Portuguese have been travelling throughout a world that they take as their own and in which they spread their cultural and social template. But, paradoxically, the Portuguese state has not yet been able to grasp this opportunity to make its mark.

The universal network, which is made up of five million emigrants and Portuguese descendents, could be used as an instrument of economic, social and, above all else, cultural distribution. Portuguese schools should proliferate around the world, with the aim of spreading the language, history and culture of the country. They would be instruments of cultural preservation of the country, together with the Portuguese and Portuguese descendant families. But also of cultural dissemination, especially in countries where there are significant numbers of Portuguese people. Incidentally, these schools would certainly be economically profitable. In cases where such a thing would be justified, there could even be schools with education fully in Portuguese. Our compatriots would thus be beneficiaries, but also be involved in the promotion of national culture.

What means would the Portuguese State use to implement this system? With those it already has access to today: consulate and embassy facilities, as well as the resources of the Camões Institute. To this end, partnerships with Portuguese-speaking countries should be forged, in particular through the public television services of Portuguese-speaking countries.

It is time for universality to reach politics too: a policy that understands that our soul (the Portuguese culture) is much larger than the ground we stand on.