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Mia Couto. [Image: A Bola]
Mozambican writer Mia Couto said on Thursday that he would contact other Camões Prize winners to take a joint position against the indication given by Brazilian President Bolsonaro that he may not sign the diploma awarding the Prize to Chico Buarque.
In an interview with Lusa, the Mozambican writer, winner of the 2013 Camões Prize, said that as soon as he became aware of Jair Bolsonaro’s statements, he immediately felt impelled to take action.
On Wednesday, the Brazilian president hinted that he might not sign off on the granting of the Camões Prize to Brazilian composer and writer Chico Buarque, telling reporters that he would not sign “until December 31, 2026”, that is, is the end of a second presidential term, should he be re-elected in 2022.
In response, Chico Buarque said Bolsonaro’s potential refusal to sign was “a second Camões Prize”.
Commenting on this, Mia Couto first “welcomed” the response of the musician and writer as “genius”, then stated his intention to contact “colleagues who won the Camões Prize” to make a “joint statement against the imbecility” of the kind of attitude exemplified.
“I heard [of this episode] today, and my idea is – as I can’t do it on my own – to ask the Camões Prize secretariat to give me people’s contacts so that we can take a joint stance.”
The writer’s justification is not only the “very particular connection” he has with Chico Buarque, but above all the feeling that “it is the Camões Prize itself that is being attacked, the very freedom to create”.
“Keeping quiet would be quite unacceptable, so I’ll call to see if the Camões Prize secretariat can help me get in touch, and produce a joint manifesto against that,” he reiterated.
Mia Couto openly deplores the current political and cultural situation in Brazil, from where he recently returned after being awarded the title of Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Brasilia.
“I’ve just returned from Brazil and I am very concerned about this rise in authoritarian tone and censorship – the way books are being taken out of schools. It is a completely unethical thing. It’s not just Bolsonaro. There is a Brazil composed of the evangelical churches, which we did had not counted on,” he told Lusa.
As an example, he told the story of a school he visited, in which “the parents had a children’s book by Jorge Amado removed because it had an illustration showing a cow and the cow’s teats.”
“We may think it is Jorge Amado that they wanted to attack, but no. It’s such a stupid thing that there’s no limit,” he said. “It’s scary because it appeals to such primal things, so beyond what we think, that we’ve already passed that stage.”Source: Lusa
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