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Enough demands the hearing of the Minister of Culture on the return of heritage to former colonies

"This process requires full public clarification, with the Portuguese population being clearly specified what type of material, in particular, we are talking about and, above all, the criteria […]that is why Chega has already addressed a question to the Cabinet of the Minister of Culture, without having received an answer so far", can we read in the text of the request, dated Monday and addressed to the president of the parliamentary committee for Culture, Luís Graça (PS).

On Tuesday, three requests were approved, from the PSD, the PCP and the Bloco de Esquerda, to hear Minister Pedro Adão e Silva in parliament on the support of the General Directorate of the Arts, still undated.

In an interview with Expresso last weekend, Pedro Adão e Silva said that "the effective way to deal with this issue is with reflection, discretion and a certain reserve", before emphasizing: "The worst way to deal with this issue is to create a polarized public debate, don't count on me for that.

“There is a need for work involving museums and the academy for a finer inventory, and I can assure you that this work will be done,” he added.

On Tuesday in Brussels, the minister defended a "serious and deep discussion" on the heritage originating from the former colonies, noting that there already existed an "inventory of provenance" in the context of museums, as in other European countries. .

“What I said was that this is a sensitive topic and should not be controversially treated as a polarized debate, fueling a contrived culture war. That's what I said and I'll say it again: it's work that has already been done, to inventory provenance in the context of museums and […] it's a debate that has taken place in all countries, especially in European countries that were colonial powers,” said Pedro Adão e Silva.

The issue of the return of works to former colonies has gained visibility since in 2018 French President Emmanuel Macron commissioned a report on the return of works to African countries.

About a year and a half ago, the National Commission of the International Council of Museums launched a survey to know the existing heritage in Portuguese museums from non-European territories, classifying it as the first stage of an initiative to "promote identification and debate” about these pieces, many of which come from former Portuguese colonies.

TDI (ANE) // SBB

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