BELEM, Portugal (AP) -- A regatta of ships and about 350 sailors set sail
Wednesday on a six-week journey meant to celebrate the voyage of
Pedro Alvares Cabral, a Portuguese navigator who reached Brazil 500
The Portuguese and Brazilian sailors weighed anchor in two majestic tallships,
a replica of a caravel and other craft bound for northern Brazil. The trip was
launched by the Portugal's President Jorge Sampaio and Brazil's President
Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Cardoso and Sampaio have pledged to expand bilateral relations and economic
ties through regional blocs like the European Union and Mercosur, the South
American trade bloc that includes Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and
Brazil, with one of the most powerful economies in the developing world,
far outgrown its colonial roots, counting a population of 165 million compared
to Portugal's 9.9 million. Still, poverty still plagues much of Brazil despite
economic advances in recent years.
"Today Brazil looks at Portugal and sees Europe. So we see not just the
(Brazilian) civilization, but also an opportunity for economic growth," Cardoso said.
Among the thirty-odd vessels in the regatta was the "Boa Esperanca," the
replica of one of Cabral's 13 ships -- a caravel with a red Christian cross
embossed on white sails.
Heading the regatta were the "Sagres" and "Cisne Branco," the majestic
tallships of the Portuguese and Brazilian navies.
The two presidents are to greet the regatta when it arrives in Brazil April 22.
On the same day, some 2,000 Brazilian Indians are planning protests to
attention to the suffering the European settlement inflicted on Brazil's native
Indians were first enslaved and later, they were virtually exterminated
colonizers. Brazil's native population shrank from an estimated 5 million in
1500 to about 320,000 today.
Portugal was also heavily involved in the slave trade. The commerce of
African slaves began in the mid-16th century and lasted until 1888 when Brazil
became the last nation in the Western Hemisphere to abolish slavery.
Brazil was a Portuguese colony from around 1530 until Portugal's Prince
Pedro declared independence in 1822 and was acclaimed Emperor of Brazil.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.