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Who will sign Chico Buarque’s literary prize? Posted by on Oct 31, 2019 in Brazilian News, Culture, Literature, Music, Politics

Brazil is just one of many countries that has Portuguese as its lingua materna (native language). In addition to Portugal, several other African and even Asian countries speak variations of the language, which, due to its regional and continental diversity, comprises a wide range of sotaques (accents), palavras (words) and expressões (idioms). To unite these different Portuguese-speaking nations, a lot of actions are being taken, one of which is the Prêmio Camões (Camões Prize).

O cantor Chico Buarque (photo by Ling Wang Marina on Flirckr)

Established in 1988 by the governos (governments) of Portugal and Brazil, the award is given to authors considered to have contributed to the literary and cultural enrichment of the Portuguese language. This year, the great bossa nova escritor e compositor (writer and composer) Chico Buarque de Hollanda was chosen as the vencedor (winner). But before you assume that the award was a major source of alegria e orgulho (joy and pride) for our president Jair Bolsonaro, think twice. In this text, we will look into who Chico Buarque is and the conflict that arose between him and the Brazilian president.

Chico Buarque dedicates his life to the arts. He is not only a composer and performer, but also a playwright, writer and actor. His musical career is vast and one of the most important in Brazil, with over eighty records that continue to influence an entire generation of artists. An outspoken critic not only of the ditadura militar (military dictatorship) that took over the country between the 60’s and 80’s but also of the Jair Bolsonaro administration, he considers himself as de esquerda (a leftist), being even openly in favor of former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, imprisoned for over a year by the current Minister of Justice of Bolsonaro. So it is no wonder that this would be one of the main causes of the political quarrel between the president and Chico Buarque.

As a prize awarded to the Camões winners, Brazil and Portugal offer the value of one hundred thousand euros, plus a symbolic diploma that must be assinado (signed) by the presidents of both countries. Upon hearing this, Jair Bolsonaro said he would sign, but only in 2026, alluding to his alleged reeleição (reelection). Chico Buarque didn’t deixou barato (let it lie), and posted on his social networks that not having Bolsonaro’s signature is like getting “a second Camões prize”. Fans of the singer still reacted comically to Bolsonaro’s speech and made an online petition called “I will sign the Camões Award for Chico Buarque de Hollanda”, which already registered over twenty-six thousand assinaturas (signatures).

What also comes to mind is another another Brazilian Camões Award winner, the poet Ferreira Gullar. A keen critic of former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva during his mandato (tenure?), Gullar had his diploma signed by the then ruler of Brazil anyway, in very different approach from what Jair Bolsonaro has adopted today. What do you think about this whole situation? Maybe we hear an iconic song by Chico Buarque to inspire you!

What also comes to mind is another another Brazilian Camões Award winner, the poet Ferreira Gullar. A keen critic of former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva during his mandato (term of office), Gullar had his diploma signed by the then ruler of Brazil anyway, in very different approach from what Jair Bolsonaro has chosen to adopt. What do you think about this whole situation? Maybe we can ouvir (listen to) an iconic song by Chico Buarque to inspire you!

Want to find out more about Chico Buarque and his career? Here you go!:

Brazilian music – Chico Buarque’s ‘Construção’

Chico Buarque

Quem Te Viu, Quem Te Vê

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