“EU underlines Portugal’s recovery from debt crisis”… The FT

“Moody’s turns optimistic on Portugal’s quite recovery”… The FT

“Portugal está de moda”.. El País

“Why Portugal has confounded the bond skeptics”… The FT

“Surf-an-wine-happy Portugal is the California of Europe”…. The NYP

Artigo publicado originalmente na revista BOW

All of the above titles were published in the last thirty days. And I’m sparing you the thousands of headlines written about the European Song Festival. The Financial Times, El País, even the New York Post have covered our country extensively and with renewed interest. How, after five years of grueling recession, facing the dire terms of a financial bailout supervised by the IMF, the EU and the BCE – the so-called Troika – has this old country found its mojo back again? Part of the answer lies in the question – it’s a very old country. It’s actually one of the oldest ones in Europe under its present borders. Apparently only the Republic of San Marino beats it to that title.

Why is “old” so good? For starters, Portugal has forged a strong identity, based on a common and strong language, spoken by more than 260 million people in the world and the most spoken in the southern hemisphere. Portugal also nurtured a culture of seafaring people that has spread its traditions, architecture, cuisine and customs over the Americas, Africa, the Gulf, India and the China seas. Finally, Portugal has one of the world’s largest Diasporas relative to its native population. Five million Portuguese (one third of all living nationals, either first or second generation, constitute extremely strong presences in France (one million), South Africa (450.000), Venezuela (600.000), Brazil (more than one million) even Luxembourg where the Portuguese community stands at 16.7% of the whole population.

But, apart from these three factors, three others have allowed the country to withstand the harsh conditions (some say unfair or even misguided) of the emergency loan: the first is resilience. We have endured difficulties before. For instance, we stood by the 60 year-long Spanish occupation without losing our identity and even kept our Empire almost intact. We went through 48 years of economic and political paralysis, and a 14 year-long colonial war without flinching. Through it all, we never wavered, we never turned against each other. The second factor is solidarity. We seamlessly incorporated almost one million returning nationals from our vast African colonies after their independence in 1975. The United Nations still names it one of the most successful massive refugee campaigns ever carried out by any country. And, of course, when doom spread after 2010, our vast international network of emigrés got at it, opening its doors from Paris to São Paulo, to Luanda, to Macao. The third factor is capacity to adapt to circumstances. When the State was taken away from our lives because there was no more money to keep it running, we turned entrepreneurial or we moved abroad. Either way, we didn’t stay put, waiting for the next round of foreign billions. We reinvented ourselves the same way we did in the fourteen hundreds when, shut away from Europe we took to the seas and invented the first global epic by an European country thus inventing the modern world.

So, here we are. Resilient, compassionate, adaptable. The corner stone of our remarkable turnaround. When foreign firms such as BNP Paribas move their entire CRM services to Portugal, they know we will speak their language. When Daimler Benz moves its Digital Comms to Portugal, they know they will find the code writers and communicators they need. When Bosch lands one of its largest electronics contracts from Renault-Nissan, they know they will fill the 500 engineering jobs without trouble..

It’s not politics, you see. Of course, context matters, there is no denying that. But other countries also benefit from it and do not find their way. It’s the People, our Culture, our unique Identity – it’s us, the Portuguese.

Come and witness The Portuguese Renaissance. We’re here for you.