Christmas message from the President of the Republic

The President of the Republic left a Christmas message in which he calls for a “broad consensus” and for “strengthening social cohesion” to face the economic and social pandemic that will dominate 2021, when the pandemic “If it’s fading”.

In the Christmas message, released through the Jornal de Notícias, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa talks about the challenges that the country has been experiencing and those it has to face in 2021, stating “there is and must be another look at Christmas 2020”, which implies a medium-term vision.

“Christmas 2020 is experienced with two simultaneous pandemics and with a dramatic experience of aggravated social gaps. And this combination of crises turns this Christmas into a never-before-seen terrain ”, he stresses.

In his opinion, “the most urgent thing is to look at Christmas 2020 with a shorter term vision – to prevent it from creating objective conditions for a negative or very negative start in 2021”.

“Everything we can do to protect the coming weeks and months, must be done”, he explains.

For the head of state, “the broad consensus to create conditions for a better start in 2021, in terms of the health pandemic, should extend to what will be months of an outbreak and its prevention, while the vaccination progresses”.

It should also extend “to the concern about the economic and social pandemic that will dominate 2021, especially when the health pandemic is fading”.

“Broad consensus, stability, reinforcement of social cohesion, existence of reliable references. This is what Christmas 2020 demands from all of us, Portuguese, it continues to demand now and will continue to demand for some time ”, he stresses, in the message.

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa recalls that, since March, the country has shown itself to live up to this demand: “We will not fade, these days, amid the responsible joy of the reunion and the rediscovery of the value of hope in resisting difficulties”.

“We have already travelled so much together and with unwavering determination, that nothing can lead us to lie down to lose what has been accomplished”, he stresses.

At the beginning of the message, the head of state begins by recalling difficult historical moments that marked other Christmases.

“Portugal knew, in the lives of less young people, Christmases at war. Those over 90 years old, the end of their childhood or the beginning of adolescence, reminds him. A war outside, but with constraints inside, for example in terms of the supply of certain goods or even a start in the early forties ”.

It also recalls the “Christmases in financial and economic and, consequently, social crisis” experienced by the “less young and young people”, recalling the emigration of “one million Portuguese, between the beginning of the 1960s and 1974, and continuing in crises in the 70s, 80s and second decade of the 21st century, different from each other, but all determining international interventions ”.

Alluding to Christmas 2020, he says that “it is a substantially new reality”: “It is a pandemic. The pandemic hit us ten months ago. Despite the hope of vaccines, it is to stay weeks and months, nobody knowing or being able to predict how many”.

The President also warns of the “psychological consequences of pandemics, in changing social behaviors, in changing community relations”.

“In the absence of comparative standards to measure the scope and depth of what has changed, what has changed, what will remain, what will leave as the pandemic eases and the economic recovery and recreation and correction of inequalities becomes visible ”, he says.

But, he points out, “with hesitations, discontinuities, quarrels, all of them dispensable and even counterproductive, the challenge is too important and the time too pressing, too, to behave other than to continue the feat and accelerate what, in the same line, we have to do it ”.

As has been the case since the second year of the presidential term, in 2017, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa addresses a Christmas message to the Portuguese through the pages of “Jornal de Notícias”. This year, the head of state makes a historical review of the difficulties that the country has gone through at other times to leave some warnings about what still awaits us, in the complex context of a pandemic that forced us to be far from those we love most. Appealing to the resilience of citizens and the need to accelerate the pace along the path that we have been tracing.

Read the message in full:

A pandemic Christmas

Portugal knew, in the lives of the less young, Christmases at war. Those over 90 years old, the end of their childhood or the beginning of adolescence, reminds him. A war outside, but with constraints inside, for example in the supply of certain goods or even a start in the early forties. Above all, those who are over 60 years old remember it, in particular those who came from Africa after 1974 and those who fought in Angola Guinea and Mozambique . These memories remain impressive, even for those who only followed those times through censored television and messages from our military over Christmas.

Portugal experienced, in the lives of less young people and younger people, Christmases in financial and economic crisis and, consequently, social. It reminds him of less young people and more young people of several generations. Beginning in what appeared to be economic growth but would translate into the emigration of one million Portuguese, between the beginning of the 60s and 1974, and continuing in the crises in the 70s, 80s and second decade of the 21st century, different from each other, but all determining international interventions.

At different times, Portugal has known Christmases with very vast poverty, or with permanence of incompressible structural poverty – that is, very difficult reduction – or with this poverty amplified by the economic and financial crises. Portugal knew Christmases with epidemic outbreaks before Democracy and already in Democracy, but of limited duration, in addition to these Christmases.

Christmas 2020 is a substantially new reality. It is spent in a pandemic. The pandemic hit us ten months ago. Despite hope for vaccines, it is about to stay for weeks and months, no one knowing or being able to predict how many. With the health pandemic, an economic and social pandemic has emerged – in addition to the fundamental problems of our economy and our society. The increase in poverty and inequality was an immediate effect of the two pandemics. In a word, Christmas 2020 is experienced with two simultaneous pandemics and with a dramatic experience of aggravated social gaps. And this junction of crises turns this Christmas into an unprecedented terrain.

On the psychological consequences of pandemics. Changing social behaviours. Changing community relations. In the absence of comparative standards to measure the scope and depth of what has changed, what has changed, what will remain, what will leave as the pandemic eases, and economic recovery and recreation and correction inequalities become visible.

Of course, the most urgent thing is to look at Christmas 2020 with a shorter term vision – to prevent it from creating objective conditions for a negative or very negative start in 2021. And all we can do to protect the more weeks and months nearby, must be done. But there is and must be another look at Christmas 2020. Which implies a medium-term vision. The broad consensus to create the conditions for a better start in 2021, in terms of the health pandemic, should extend to what will still be months of the outbreak and its prevention, while vaccination progresses.

How to extend concern about the economic and social pandemic. That it will dominate 2021, especially when the health pandemic is fading. Broad consensus, stability, strengthening of social cohesion, existence of trust references. This is what Christmas 2020 demands from all of us Portuguese, it continues to demand now and will continue to demand for some time to come.

Since March, we have demonstrated that we can live up to this requirement. In these days, we will not be lost among the responsible joy of the reunion and the rediscovery of the value of hope in resisting difficulties. We have already traveled so much together and with unwavering determination, that nothing can lead us to lie down to lose what has been accomplished.

With hesitations, discontinuities, quibbles. All of them expendable and even counterproductive. The challenge is too important and time too pressing, too, to behave anything other than to continue the feat and accelerate what, along the same lines, must be done.

 


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