At a reception, held at the Brazilian Embassy in Sofia, the National Day of Brazil was celebrated. It was linked to the anniversary of the declaration of its independence om Spetember 7, 1822. Unfortunately, a few days before the feast a fire devastated the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro. This is what H. E. Mrs. Ana Maria Sampaio Fernandes said in her address to the guests of the reception:
“It is a pleasure to welcome you to celebrate one hundred and ninety-six years of the independence of Brazil.”
However, we are in no mood for celebrations today; Brazil suffered this weekend an incalculable loss, as its oldest and most important historical and scientific museum has been destroyed, and most of its archive of 20 million items is lost.
Only last June, the Brazilian National Museum completed 200 years. Its building served as residence for the Portuguese Royal Family between 1808 – when it fled Europe to escape the threat of Napoleonic hegemony – and 1821, when the Portuguese king Dom João returned to Lisbon.
In that Palace, on the 2nd of September – the same day that saw its destruction 196 years later – Empress Dona Leopoldina, in 1822, having reunited the State Council, signed, as Regent, the decree of Independence of Brazil; on the 7th of September, the Emperor, away from the capital, having received her message, declared the independence.
The Palace was the home of the Brazilian Imperial Family from the year of independence until 1889. It hosted the Republican Constituent Assembly for the next three years. In 1892 it was assigned as the seat of the National Museum coming to house the collection established in 1818.
2018, on the other hand, marks the 130th anniversary of the signing, on May 13, 1888, by Princess Regent Isabel, of the law, which abolished slavery in Brazil. The law was called the “Golden Law” for its relevance in putting an end to that abhorrent practice.
The approval of the law culminated the national abolitionist campaign, started in the decade of 1870, whose values were embraced by the princess, daughter of D. Pedro II. First Brazilian woman to take a seat in the Senate, in the light of the provisions of the Constitution of 1824, and the first woman to act as head of State in the American continent, princess Isabel exerted a liberal influence in the three occasions she acted as Regent for her father.
A convinced Abolitionist, she fought for the approval of the law that freed the newborn children of slaves, 17 years before the Abolition; Isabel financed with her own money the acquisition of freedom rights by dozens of slave. She also supported financially the Quilombo of Leblon, a remote place in the capital, where slaves who escaped captivity hid from the authorities and organized a self-sustained community; the quilombo grew white camellias – which became the flower-symbol of abolition.
The cost of the princess’s action for the Imperial family was high; about a year and a half later, the Republic was proclaimed.”
Further on, in her speech H. E. Mrs. Ana Maria Sampaio Fernandes underlined:
“I want to highlight the excellent relations that exists between Brazil and Bulgaria, traditionally friendly and marked by a spirit of cooperation.
Since 2016, we have signed bilateral agreements in the areas of Social Security and Scientific and Technological cooperation. We have ongoing negotiations on future agreements in the areas of education and judicial cooperation.
In the last two years, the Embassy has organized and supported multiple initiatives to promote Brazilian culture in Bulgaria, in the fields of classical and popular music, ballet, literature and cinema.
In this regard, I would like to mention the partnership between the Embassy and Zenon Barreto Cultural Institute: under the leadership of its International Chair, Nara Vasconcelos, the III Brazilian Week of Cinema and Culture will be held in Sofia, from the 21st to the 28th of October; the program of the event is available in English. Appropriately, this year’s the event will focus on the African component of the Brazilian culture. From the scourge of slavery, a strong influence flourished to enrich our culture and contribute to form our population and to shape our national identity.
I can only hope that something positive will also flourish from the ashes of the National Museum”, concluded H. E. Mrs. Ana Maria Sampaio Fernandes.
H. E. Mrs. Ana Maria Sampaio Fernandes’s address was kindly provided to this website by the Embassy of Brazil in Sofia.