Celebrating a Momentous Day in History – The 200th Anniversary of the Independence of Brazil

H. E. Mrs. Maria Edileuza Fontenele Reis is a true Brazilian who is delightful, cheerful, and energetic but also an experienced career diplomat. She joined the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1978 after attaining a degree in Social Communication at the University of Brasilia and a degree in French Culture and Civilization in Paris. Ambassador Reis has acquired several academic titles. She defended a Ph. D. level thesis on Brazilian-Japanese relations at the Brazilian Diplomatic Academy, published in Portuguese, Japanese, and English. She completed her Master's degree in International Relations at the Centro Studi Diplomatici e Strategici (Center for Diplomatic and Strategic Studies) in Rome, in 2002. Then, in 2016, she obtained a Ph. D. degree in International Relations and Diplomacy at the École des Hautes Études en Relations Internationales (the Graduate School of International Relations) in Paris.

Her Excellency Mrs. Maria Edileuza Fontenele Reis has had a lengthy career at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil. In 2006, she was promoted to the rank of First Class Minister (Ambassador). She has served in Paris (Consul-General-2015-2017), Luanda (Ambassador - 2014), Rome, Tokyo, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and temporary missions in New York, Jamaica, Barbados, and several other countries. She has held senior positions in various departments of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federative Republic of Brazil. Additionally, Ambassador Fontenele Reis has also participated as a speaker in several academic conferences, seminars, and workshops on issues related to Brazilian Foreign Policy and has several articles published about Brazil-China relations, BRICS, IBSA, and Brazil-European Union Strategic Partnership, among other issues. Her accomplishments have been awarded over 13 orders of merit and distinctions from Brazil, the Holy See, Italy, the Netherlands, Denmark, France, and Argentina.

E. Mrs. María Edileuza Fontenele Reis presented her credentials as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federative Republic of Brazil in our country to H. E. Mr. Rumen Radev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, on January 30, 2020.

- Your Excellency, we live in a time of pandemics and wars, but despite everything, there are such significant events in people's lives and countries that should be noted. How will Brazilians celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the country's Declaration of Independence on September 7, 1822?

- The celebration of the 200 years of our independence is an important landmark for the Brazilian people. It is a moment to revisit our history and look to the future with pride and confidence. Our independence resulted from a peaceful negotiation process with Portugal, our motherland. Since September 7, 1822, we have consolidated the continental territory of Brazil, speaking Portuguese as the only national language. We have demarcated our borders with 10 neighbors through diplomatic negotiations, and we have built a dynamic multiracial society with a vibrant culture.

The Brazilian Government has organized a series of activities to celebrate this important moment for Brazilian society. A military parade will take place in Brasília and the capitals of all the States of our Federation. The Navy of many countries will be present at the Guanabara Bay in Rio de Janeiro, and the Presidents of the 7 Portuguese-speaking countries will participate in ceremonies in Brazil. Many events are organized in the 27 States of Brazil, showing our cultural expression in the fields of music, literature, cinema, theater, and gastronomy. Several history books are being launched, and seminars are being organized to promote a reflection of our history and future perspectives.

- On August 24, Brazil welcomed the embalmed heart of the first Brazilian Emperor, Dom Pedro I, provided by Portugal as part of the celebrations. What does this gesture signify?

- Brazil is very honored that Portugal has sent the heart of our first emperor, Emperor Dom Pedro I, to Brazil for this important moment as we celebrate the 200 years of our independence. Emperor Dom Pedro I declared the independence of Brazil on September 7, 1822, and became our first Emperor. Later, in 1837, he was crowned the King of Portugal and Algarve. We are grateful to Portugal for this gesture of fraternity and friendship characteristic of the relations between Brazil and Portugal. This important relic is a remarkable symbol of the friendship between our nations, and it was received during a ceremony with Head of State honors. It is displayed in the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as the most important landmark of the celebrations of our independence.

- What is the Embassy preparing for this 200th anniversary?

- The Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil in Sofia has organized a series of events marking the bicentennial. In May, the Villa-Lobos festival showcased the pieces of our most important classical composer. In July, the Embassy was happy to receive the Choro quartet that presented the unique Brazilian musical style that combines European musical traditions with elements of African influence. This was the first time that such a musical style was showcased in Bulgaria. After our National Day reception at the Embassy, other events will also take place featuring Brazilian music. We also hope to launch the translation to Portuguese of the Diaries of the visit of Czar Ferdinand of Bulgaria to Brazil in 1927 on a study trip of the Brazilian fauna and flora.

- A country's national holiday is always a source of pride for its daughters and sons. Which of Brazil’s achievements are you, as a Brazilian woman and diplomat, proud of?

- As a Diplomat, I am very proud of the excellence of Brazilian diplomacy formed in our Diplomatic Academy, which was formally established in 1945. Brazil projects itself as a peaceful country that has diplomatic relations with all members of the United Nations and as a founding member of all the international organizations that establish the architecture of the modern world order. It gives me great pleasure to project Brazil’s soft power abroad through diplomacy, music, culture, literature, and our tradition of solidarity and cooperation with our 10 neighbors and with all countries on different continents.

- Brazil is a huge country - fifth in area and sixth in population in the world. How is this huge country dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences?

- We suffered tremendously due to the adversities posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, the entire population had access to vaccines, and the pandemic is now under control. Like many countries, we are now fighting the economic consequences of the pandemic, which were aggravated by the disturbance caused by the conflict in Ukraine. We have, however, been successful in controlling inflation and, as one of the largest food producers in the world, we are managing to have an important surplus in our international trade.

- What is the current state of the diplomatic relations between Brazil and Bulgaria?

- Bilateral relations between Brazil and Bulgaria are marked by fraternal ties of friendship and cooperation. We are very proud that our former president, Dilma Rousseff, is a daughter of Bulgaria (her father was born in Gabrovo) and visited Bulgaria on one of her first visits abroad after taking office. We have an important Bulgarian community in Brazil and many Brazilians in Bulgaria who are active in sports, such as soccer and volleyball players, capoeira, and Jiu-Jitsu wrestling. The excellence of Bulgarian classical musicians is very much appreciated in Brazil, and many Bulgarian musicians integrate into our most important orchestras. Beyond the remarkable relations between our peoples, Brazil and Bulgaria maintain excellent cooperation in international organizations where we mutually support each other. I am currently working on establishing the Economic Cooperation Commission between our two countries and am actively encouraging Brazilian investors to establish businesses in Bulgaria.

- You promote various cultural events and projects. Do you think art and culture have the power to bring people together in today's troubled world?

- Art and culture are areas where we can understand each other regardless of language barriers. They are powerful elements of common understanding and expression of our souls, our hopes, our sensibility, and our essence. 

- You have been our ambassador for more than two and a half years. What aspects of our country do you enjoy most? Do you have any favorite Bulgarian places, traditions, or activities?

- Despite the limitations imposed by the COVID pandemic during my first two years in Bulgaria, I was fortunate to be able to visit some of Bulgaria’s most important archeological, historical, and cultural sites. It was with great pleasure that I visited Varna, Sozopol, Nessebar, Burgas, Veliko Tarnovo, Plovdiv, Bansko, and Borovets. During the different seasons of the year, it was a privilege to appreciate the rose festivals, the ski resorts, the wonderful Black Sea beaches, and the exceptional Bulgarian museums and archeological sites.

The photo is provided by the Embassy of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the Republic of Bulgaria. On it: H. E. Mrs. Maria Edileuza Fontenele Reis, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federative Republic of Brazil to the Republic of Bulgaria