"The past is a distant country / distant is the shadow of the voice / the past is the truth told by another of us," sings Sérgio Godinho in one of the many meaningful songs and lyrics by this outstanding Portuguese songwriter.
When applied to a nation, collective memory plays a key political role.
Now 30 years have passed since the tragic events in Tiananmen Square. In mainland China, the issue is not just a taboo for the authorities, but remains a kind of "black hole" in the official collective memory that shows no signs of being reassessed in the near future. Revisiting the images and statements of students who were in the heart of Beijing over the course of those weeks, we come across not only calls for greater transparency and democracy but also expressions embracing patriotism.
In this week's edition of PLATAFORMA MACAU, we remember how Macau lived intensely the events in Beijing, with around 100,000 people taking to the streets in the largest demonstration ever held in the city. Citizens from all walks of life gathered in an unprecedented display of solidarity.
Three decades later, the vigils in Hong Kong - on a larger scale - and in Macau pay homage to the victims, calling for a reassessment of the verdict of what was officially branded as a "counterrevolutionary riot." The China of the infamous June of 1989 may indeed appear to be a "distant country". Much has changed. The extraordinary economic and social development - which had begun a decade earlier - has accelerated, is in full view and is a source of satisfaction and pride.
However, this kind of partial amnesia in the official collective memory and the paranoia surrounding the control of information on "sensitive" issues like this one will not allow this wound to heal. Sooner or later - probably much later - there will be a way of reconciling with this past/country.
In an important speech in 2005, on the 60th anniversary of China's victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-fascist War, then-President Hu Jintao stressed that the past, if not forgotten, can serve as a guide for the future. " By emphasising the need to always remember the past, we do not mean to continue the hatred. Instead, we want to draw lessons from history and be forward-looking. Only by remembering the past and drawing lessons from it can one avoid the repetition of historical tragedies., "said Xi Jinping's predecessor.
It is not easy, but it is necessary.