The Ministry of Foreign Relations (Itamaraty), headed by Ernesto Araújo, removed from circulation educational materials that contained phrases of racist nature, as well as explicit attacks against the Landless Workers Movement (MST) and former president Lula da Silva.
Filled with sentences charged with political, social and racial judgments and intonations, the material was handed out by the Foreign Ministry to be used in Portuguese language courses abroad, made available by the Brazil Cultural Network.
A part of Itamaraty’s Division for the Promotion of the Portuguese Language, the Cultural Network promotes Portuguese classes in 44 countries all over the world. Júlia Dolce, a journalist at Agência Pública broke the story following a tip from a teacher.
In an exercise aimed at conjugating the verb “become”, the following sentence is contemplated: “If she straightened her hair, she would () prettier”, a clearly racist tone.
In another instance, it explicitly mentions the Landless Workers Movement (MST), when asking for the conjugation of the verbs “appropriate” and “see”. “If MST () our lands, we will never be able to () them again”.
Another phrase used as an example in the materials mentions former president Lula: “If I had known that Lula would be so corrupt, I wouldn’t have voted for him”. In another exercise, the verb “have” is conjugated in a sentence condemning abortion: “If women didn’t perform abortions, we wouldn’t () so many clandestine abortion clinics”.
The educational program was elaborated by Airamaia Chapina, a teacher and owner of a language school in São Paulo. Speaking the Globo newspaper, she stated that the worksheets were created last decade, and denies it was elaborated with any political motivations.
On Wednesday, July 15th, 31 members of Congress formally asked the Foreign Relations Ministry about the material that was distributed abroad.
Edited by: Leandro Melito