Monday, May 20, 2013
GOANS WERE THE MOST DESERVING OF AN INDEPENDENT NATION – an Interview by Jose' Pedro Castanheira
Brought to you by Bendo Juze
In a recent interview taken by Jose' Pedro Castanheira for to the main Portuguese weekly Expresso (http://www.expresso.pt) on the 27th Jan 2007, General Ramalho Eanes and ex-President of the Portuguese Republic is of the opinion that Goa was an unique case in the Portuguese Colonial Empire and had met all the conditions to become an independent state. General Ramalho Eanes remembers Goa as a "great school" and describes the Portuguese decolonization process as a non-glorious one.
Interviewer: In 1958, you went to Goa. It was your first assignment. You took with you an edition of The Lusiadas from 1876.
Ramalho Eanes: Exactly. Goa was to me a great school. In Goa I learnt a lot of good and bad things (bad because it influenced for a long time my colonial vision). I lived and served under an unit commanded by a Goan Lieutenant and therefore the unit was more like a family rather than a military unit. The soldiers and sergeants were Goans too.
Goa was an historic and political micro cosmos, distinguished and different. It was only lacking the political power in order to be considered a de facto independent state. All the main posts were occupied by Goans - only the Governor General and the Military Commander were not Goans. My Commander and the 2nd Commander of the Regiment were Goans. The Administration of the territory, even the Superior Administration, was run by Goans, the Judges of the Supreme Courts were Goans; The Medical and Surgical School was run by Goans...
Interviewer: Are you saying that Goa met the conditions to be independent?
Ramalho Eanes: Yes I am. Goa met all the conditions because we had made something there which we had not managed to make anywhere else (I only realised this later). A new culture had been created which was not ours but
It wasn't Indian either. Goa had its own cultural personality. Recently, Professor Fausto Quadros compared Goa to Timor; I think he is somewhat right. Goa could have been not the Portuguese State of India but The State of Goa (independent).
Interviewer: Goa could have been made independent following the independence of India by Great Britain?
Ramalho Eanes: I think so. Salazar, after the II World War, had all the conditions met to grant independence to Goa.
Interviewer: Do you think Salazar is responsible for the invasion of Goa
Ramalho Eanes: Salazar is entirely responsible because he was unable to read the geopolitical situation determined by the end of the II World War, in which colonies made no sense. Salazar did not understand that and ended up conducting us to a non-glorious decolonization process that we produced. He is the first and largely responsible for that.
Interviewer: However, you yourself volunteered when the invasion (1961) took place.
Ramalho Eanes: I was several times asked in Goa what I thought about the future. I was a young Lieutenant and I was convinced that Portugal was from Minho to Timor, which could have been a model in the world. I told them that Portugal was there to stay and that they were as much Portuguese as myself. When the invasion took place (1961), I thought to myself that despite the fact that I did not lie, I had deceived them - so the minimum I could do was to offer myself as volunteer.
Interviewer: Did they not accept?
Ramalho Eanes: No. It was too quick. Nobody ended up going there. We didn't even send ammunitions or essential armaments.
Interviewer: Did you ever return to Goa?
Ramalho Eanes: No. I had accepted an invitation to visit India – and naturally I would have visited Goa - but Mrs. Indira Ghandi was murdered [in 1984] and the visit was cancelled.
Interviewer: In 1962, you went to Macau, which is very different from Goa. Macau also had conditions met to be independent?
Ramalho Eanes Never. Macau was indeed a Chinese territory. Whilst there was in Goa an Elite which was neither Portuguese nor Indian - it was Goan -, in Macau there were Chinese and Portuguese. In Goa, Afonso de Albuquerque recommended the marriage of several noble Goans with Portuguese.
Interviewer: The mix of races...
Ramalho Eanes: Which demonstrates that deep inside we are not racist.
Interviewer: Do you think that the Portuguese are not racist?
Ramalho Eanes: Yes. Although they show sometimes signs of racism. For several reasons. But we are not racist. The letter from Pêdro Vaz de Caminha is quite relevant; there he does not say that the Portuguese found dark and naked humans; he only describes what those humans had of great and of different in terms of culture. A cultural racist individual sees things in a much negative way.
Interviewer: But in Macau there was no mix of races.
Ramalho Eanes: That is true. One of my greatest disappointments was, when I arrived in Macau, I realised that Goa was not our model after all.
Interviewer: It was an exception.
Ramalho Eanes: I did not realise immediately that Goa was an exception. What I realised was that Goa was not our model - otherwise we would have tried to apply it everywhere else, including Macau.
Interviewer: Macau was kind of the reverse of the standard.
Ramalho Eanes: Yes. And for a young Captain it was clear to me that Macau could have been something totally different. We could have made of Macau what the English made of Hong Kong. But there was nothing in Macau. It was a village, very pleasant and beautiful.