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Portugal Refrains from Committing to Reparations for Trans-Atlantic Slavery and Colonialism

Lisbon, April 28, 2024, The Europe Today: In a recent development, Portugal’s government clarified its stance regarding reparations for trans-Atlantic slavery and colonialism, asserting that it is not currently planning to embark on such initiatives. This declaration comes in response to remarks made by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, who suggested that Portugal should explore avenues to compensate its former colonies.

The government of Portugal issued a statement emphasizing its commitment to fostering deeper mutual relations, acknowledging historical truths, and nurturing increasingly robust cooperation among nations, grounded in the reconciliation of fraternal peoples. However, it underscored that it has not initiated any specific actions or programs aimed at providing reparations.

The statement reaffirmed that Portugal’s current policies align with the trajectory set by preceding administrations. It emphasized the maintenance of “truly excellent” relationships with former colonies, encompassing various dimensions of financial and economic cooperation.

Portugal’s colonial legacy spans over five centuries, with the process of decolonization unfolding as late as 1974 following the downfall of the authoritarian Estado Novo regime. During the height of colonial expansion, Portuguese vessels forcibly transported an estimated 6 million Africans across the Atlantic, subjecting them to the horrors of slavery.

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa urged Lisbon to take proactive steps towards addressing historical injustices, asserting that the issue of reparations cannot be disregarded. He advocated for Portugal to spearhead a reparations process, suggesting potential measures such as debt forgiveness for former colonies, the establishment of specialized cooperation programs, or the provision of financial assistance.

De Sousa stressed the imperative for Portugal to assume responsibility for both the negative and positive aspects of its imperial history and to draw meaningful conclusions from past actions.

While President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa’s remarks have ignited discussions on the moral obligations of nations with colonial legacies, Portugal’s government remains cautious in committing to reparatory measures, opting instead to prioritize ongoing cooperation and reconciliation efforts with its former colonies.