While part of the Portuguese society honors the historical past, described as a past of harmony and integration between peoples, the movement for historical reparations in the country is growing. And, if clashes in the field of discourse were not enough, examples of discrimination exposing Portuguese-style racism are proliferating.
United Nations observers were in Portugal for a week earlier this month to assess the situation of the population of African descent. The preliminary notes, which will be released next September, describe the scenario as disturbing and unexpected, but not in a positive way.
V sheet American Dominic Day, President of the United Nations Working Group on People of African Descent, summarizes the main reports collected: police beatings, school discrimination, prison abuse, gynecological violence (in the case of black women) and hypersexualization. Tel.
He explains that the surprising factor was that Portuguese national identity is still defined by its colonial past. “Colonialism and Portugal’s role in creating a modern transnational economy that we know was based on the commercialization of people like me remains a source of pride, even though racial brutality and human rights abuses are known.”
For activist Mamadou Ba, who came to Portugal from Senegal over 20 years ago and has since worked for the non-governmental organization SOS Racism, systemic racism has always existed in the country, but it has been gaining momentum as a kind of rebuilding effect as anti-racist movements have grown stronger in favor of the last five years.
“There was a powerful attack from the most conservative and reactionary sectors, proposing to reinforce the ideology of the tropicalists with the ideology of soft colonialism, more advantageous and different from others. [praticados por outras nações europeias]”, continue.
He believes that one element was the catalyst for racism: the election of the first deputy of the Portuguese far-right to the Portuguese parliament two years ago. “Election of André Ventura [conhecido como Bolsonaro português] “It was a green path for racism,” he says. “We saw several manifestations in everyday life that were much more aggressive and more intense because people no longer feel any ethical censorship.”
The balance of accusations of ethnic and racial discrimination in Portugal has increased from year to year. If in 2014 there were 60, then in 2020 – 655 – an increase that the Commission on Equality and Against Racial Discrimination (CICDR), which is responsible for receiving complaints, associates with a greater public awareness of the problem.
Of last year’s, 27.9% used skin color as a discriminatory factor – a number admittedly below the real level, as racism can also be present in discrimination recorded, for example, by nationality (22.1%) or ethnic origin (12 , 2%). … 78 of the applicants explicitly stated that black skin color was a reason for discrimination. And the virtual environment is becoming an arena for committing crimes: 48.7% of registered cases occurred on social networks.
If these numbers help to partially illustrate what black men and women in Portugal experience, the country lacks another type of data: it is impossible to measure the real size of the African community because the state does not. contain data on self-declaration of the population.
Despite numerous recommendations, the Portuguese National Statistical Institute decided not to include the issue of ethnic-racial origin in the list. census… It was justified that, among other things, such data could institutionalize ethnic-racial categories and legitimize the classification of people – an argument that, for Dominic Day, does not hold water.
“The truth is that Portugal has limitations in its fight against racism because it does not store data disaggregated by race, because there is no way to understand how the racial element is at the root of the problems,” he says. “Without data, it’s impossible to even know if the Portuguese government is doing well in its efforts to promote equality and eliminate systemic racism.”
What can be calculated in parts is the size of the African population of Portugal. More than 106,000 Africans are increasing the number of foreigners living in the country, according to the Foreigners and Borders Service. Cape Verdeans, for example, have the third largest population (36,600), behind only Brazil and the United Kingdom. The official figures, however, do not take into account, among other things, immigrants who have not yet settled their situation.
Portugal has an anti-racism law passed in 1999 following pressure from organizations such as SOS Racism. Mamadou Ba, however, says that making the mechanism effective is not an easy task, and that more than 80% of complaints have already been filed or are due to expire. “Institutions such as the justice system and security forces eventually become the canes for the expression of racism in Portuguese society.”
Dominic Day argues that United Nations observers have found widespread discrimination that does not stop if the citizen already has naturalized Portuguese or even has access to education. The alarming scenario identified unfolds into a set of 40 preliminary recommendations for the Portuguese state.
According to the expert, several possible actions can mitigate discrimination, but Portugal will always fail to do what is necessary if it does not relate to the past. “Failure to redefine national identity has limited the ability to be anti-racist because individual measures are being proposed rather than dismantling structures that perpetuate racial hierarchy.”
The visit of the UN Working Group on People of African Descent, established two decades ago, was requested by the Portuguese government itself. The observers visited the capital, Lisbon, as well as Porto and Setubal.