Thursday, January 07, 2010

The History of a Lie

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a long time. It’s probably my last post about this unfortunate case and I was hoping it would coincide with the end of it, but we haven’t heard the last of it yet, am afraid.

However, there is a general feeling in the air that we will see some closure to it soon. “Some” closure, because we may never really find out what really happened to Madeleine, but at least, some closure to the nonsense that surrounds it.

For now, the case is where it's supposed to be - in the hands of justice. Let's hope it serves its purpose and re-open the investigation as well.

As I promised on my last post in 2009, I will try to explain what I meant by “The Portuguese Republic is 99 years old. The Portuguese nation is nearly 900 years old”.

At first, History may not seem important to this case, or any other; but this is not your run-of-the-mill case.

Perhaps without noticing it, you have been learning more about Portuguese History you ever imagined or even wanted to.

Just think of the Carnation Revolution, invoked by G. Amaral and the freedom of expression supporters; or the exact opposite - the former dictatorship and their secret police, exhumed in 2007 by those who wanted to cast suspicion and discredit the PJ.

So History has been used, by both sides.

I do not whish to bore anyone with lengthy explanations about what happened 100 years ago; I just would like to help people understand how we come to this point, where so many people – not just the Portuguese anymore – wonder what is going on with the Portuguese judicial system (and in no smaller part, with the Portuguese State).

The reality is that we have to look back 100 years, to fully understand why the dictatorship and then the Carnation Revolution were necessary, and why everything else is what it is now.

This year, the Portuguese State is getting ready to celebrate 100 years of the Portuguese Republic. From a historical, economical, democratic and social perspective, most of it is really, really bad. Not Soviet Union bad, but close. I wonder what Russia will do when they come to the 100th Anniversary of the Soviet Revolution. At least they've reinstated the memory of the Czar and their original national flag...
But I digress.

To make a long story short, to pave the way for the republic, the nearly 800 year-old institution of the monarchy had to be removed, which the radicals did, by assassinating the King and the Crown Prince in 1908. Two years later, just when the investigation conclusions were finally about to be made public, an armed coup imposed the Republic, with Britain's blessing. And with it, came a new (dis)order, as History shows.

The files – several copies of them – all vanished within years. The last known copy was stolen from the home of the king, during his exile in Twickenham. Obviously, the case was dismissed and there were no convictions nor other responsible for the regicide, except two of the murderers, also killed at the scene of the crime.

That was the beginning of the now long tradition of "archiving" high-profile judicial cases.

The Carnation Revolution in 1974 didn’t change that, alas.

So, in this last 100 years, Portugal has lost its moral and traditional reference, and has been adrift.

It has taken on board oligarquies that use the power to protect their own. They all have an appetite for the control of information. But this could be said of many other countries…

In our defence, we could say that the Portuguese had their History re-written and decades of censorship dulled their spirit a bit; but, if anything good has come out of this Britain vs Portugal parody, it’s the many individuals who have shown the world that free speech, justice, truth and other principles, have no nationality.

My wish for this year of 2010 is that people finally wake up and remember where they come from - not 100 years ago, but much further back - and celebrate truth and justice.

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