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Brazil takes fight against racism abroad


New Minister of Racial Equality Anielle Franco gestures during the inauguration ceremony at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, Brazil January, 11, 2023. REUTERS/Adriano Machado

Government officials from Brazil are using their president’s first visit to Europe since being elected to raise awareness and fight against the racial discrimination faced by the Brazilian community in Portugal and elsewhere.

Brazil’s minister of racial equality, Anielle Franco, was one of the officials who travelled with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. Her mission was to bring discussions about racism to the table.

“We’re not going to be able to solve 523 years of problems in just one visit but I hope we can move forward because that’s why we’re here,” Franco told reporters on Sunday, referring to centuries of oppression faced by Black people.

Franco is the sister of Marielle Franco, a Black councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro who fought for racial justice and was shot dead in 2018.

When elected, Lula said he aimed to attack racism and Brazil’s legacy of slavery. Portuguese vessels carried nearly 6 million enslaved Africans into slavery. Most went to Brazil.

Europe’s top human rights group previously said Portugal had to confront its colonial past and role in the transatlantic slave trade to help fight racism and discrimination in the country today.

“Let’s build a future without forgetting the debts of the past,” Franco wrote on Instagram. “Let’s build a future where cooperation is mutual between countries to seek justice and reparation.”

In a letter addressed to Lula on Sunday, Lisbon-based migrant association Casa do Brasil said cases of discrimination against Brazilians in Portugal were on the rise.

A study by Casa do Brasil showed 91% of Brazilians in Portugal, a community of around 300,000, have faced some sort of discrimination in access to public services.

Franco met Portuguese parliament affairs minister Ana Catarina Mendes on Saturday to discuss policies to tackle racial injustice.

Both governments agreed on a national strategy to combat racism.

“We need to make it happen,” said Franco.