The CDS “cannot be conniving” with the statements of its leader Abel Matos Santos about Aristides Sousa Mendes, writes this Thursday in a statement to the Israeli Community of Lisbon (CIL). It is a reaction to the positions of the member of the centrist executive committee and a former candidate for the leadership of the party, who on social media called the “Jewish loan shark” to the Portuguese consul in Bordeaux, which saved 30,000 lives from the Nazi Holocaust.
It is with “amazement and surprise” that CIL reacts to the words of Matos Santos, that Expresso reported on Wednesday. Its content, considers this Jewish organization in Portugal, is “offensive to the memory of one of the greatest diplomats in Portugal, the consul Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Justo entre Nações”. The statement is signed by CIL President José Oulman Carp.
During World War II, Sousa Mendes disobeyed Salazar’s orders to allow 30,000 Jews to pass through Portugal, issuing visas and allowing them to escape the concentration and extermination camps. He claimed to have done it as an “act of conscience”.
He ended up demoted by the dictator, but he was one of the first people recognized as Just Among Nations by Yad Vashem, an organization that preserves the memory of the victims of the Shoah, based in Jerusalem. Thus considered in 1966, he is one of four Portuguese distinguished with the title, alongside the also diplomat Carlos Sampayo Garrido (2010), Father Joaquim Carreira (2014) and José Brito-Mendes, of Portuguese origin but listed as French for being emigrant.
For the Jews of Lisbon, Matos Santos committed “an offense against all Jews and non-Jews who were saved from Nazi barbarism during World War II”. The CIL expresses “the greatest rejection for statements of an anti-Semitic and racist character, still existing in Portuguese society” and associates “with all those in the country who have also condemned such acts, among civil society in general and those in public positions ”.
Auschwitz’s liberation was 75 years ago
The week in which the publications of the CDS leader were known is heartburn for their content. “At a time when the world celebrates the 75th Anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, embodied in the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the ultimate symbol of primary and structured anti-Semitism, reading similar statements reminds us that there are those who do not know the history or intend to associate themselves with anti-Semitism ”, writes CIL.
Matos Santos, from the ultra-conservative Tendência em Movimento (CDS faction), published compliments to Salazar between 2012 and 2015 (“Viva Salazar! And he really lives! Do whatever you do, change the name of the bridge he made, delete street names , lie on it, whatever you do, you will never be able to erase your memory and your vast legacy! It was undoubtedly one of the greatest and best Portuguese ever! ”) and to PIDE (“ one of the best policemen in the world ”, asking “What tortures?”) And criticism of the consul in Bordeaux (“Why do they defend Sousa Mendes, who was a loan shark of the Jews?”).
The publications were active at the time of their publication by Expresso, with Matos Santos affirming to the newspaper that they had “like everything in our lives, their moment and their context”. With the care to protect the new president of the CDS, Francisco Rodrigues dos Santos, “totally oblivious” to his writings, Matos Santos criticized Expresso for “purging phrases from these texts and decontextualizing them”, without however explaining in what context he intended them.
The now first vice president of the CDS, Filipe Lobo d’Ávila, told Expresso that he “does not know” the positions of Matos Santos, whose thought is nevertheless “known” to the party and the new team that heads him. “This direction is plural and includes several different opinions, but the winning motion is clear. What makes sense for this direction is to talk about the future ”, he stressed.