Brazilian writer and musician Chico Buarque received on Monday the most prestigious literary award for Portuguese-language, with the ceremony happening four years after he won it due to an impasse caused by former President Jair Bolsonaro.
Buarque was awarded in 2019 the Camoes Prize, which every year recognises an author from a Portuguese-speaking nation. It was previously given to writers such as Portugal’s Jose Saramago and Mozambique’s Paulina Chiziane.
The prize, named after Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes, was created by Portugal and Brazil in 1988. Each country contributes 50,000 euros ($55,125.00) to the award.
When Buarque won, Bolsonaro refused to sign the award diploma, delaying the ceremony.
The artist, who is revered in Brazil as a national hero best known for his political songs against military dictatorship, is a supporter of current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and openly criticised Bolsonaro’s cultural policies.
Far-right Bolsonaro shut down the culture ministry, reducing it to an office of the tourism ministry.
“Four years of a disastrous government lasted forever because time seemed to go backwards,” Buarque said at the ceremony, which took place at a palace in Queluz, near the Portuguese capital.
“The (Bolsonaro) government was defeated at the polls but we can’t be distracted because the fascist threat persists in Brazil and elsewhere,” he added.
The glittering palace room was packed with politicians, well-known writers and other artists, who gave Buarque a standing ovation when he walked in. Buarque’s work includes prize-winning novels, such as Estorvo and Budapest.
Buarque was also an opponent of the two decade-long military dictatorship in Brazil that began in 1964.
Lula arrived in Portugal on Friday for a five-day visit, his first to Europe since taking office as president, and attended Buarque’s event.
“It is for me a satisfaction to correct one of the biggest mistakes ... committed against Brazilian culture in recent times,” Lula said. “The attack on culture ... was an important dimension of the project the extreme-right tried to implement in Brazil” — Reuters