Camões Prize Chico Buarque

Chico Buarque Receives Camoes Award from Lula 

Chico Buarque Receives Camoes Award from Lula 

“We all consider Buarque’s cancionero (song book) as an integral part of our common patrimony,” summarized Portugal President, Rebelo de Sousa. After a four year standby, Chico Buarque received the Camoes prize last Monday from the hands of Brazilian President, Lula da Silva. The award is given out for literature in Portuguese language and is the maximum Portuguese language prize given out. 

“Viva to Brazilian Culture! A very happy day for Brazilian culture. I embrace you, my dear friend, Chico Buarque,” @LulaOficial.



The musician, composer and writer had been chosen for the prize in 2019 but the COVID-19 pandemic postponed the ceremony scheduled for 2020. Traditionally, it is handed out by Brazil and Portugal´s respective heads of state, but Bolsonaro, then president of Brazil had never accepted to participate in such a recognition.

When the award was announced Bolsonaro ironized: “Is there a deadline? I’ll sign it on December 31st, 2026.” That would have been his last day of presidency had he been reelected president. 

As a response, Buarque stated: “That Bolsonaro denies signing the diploma is for me like a second Camoes…”

The ceremony was celebrated in Queluz Palace in the outskirts of Lisbon. Together with Lula da Silva, Portugal President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa and Prime Minister António Costa as well as Ministers of culture of both countries were present

“Chico managed to synthesize the passions of the Brazilian people. He turned the everyday into poetry. Today, I had the honor of correcting an error and deservedly handing over the Camões Prize to one of the greatest names in Brazilian art. Congratulations, my friend Chico Buarque,” @LulaOficial.



“I receive this award as a reparation to so many actors and artists that have been offended by these years of stupidity and obscurantism,” said Buarque referring to the years governed by ex-Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro. “His four years of fatal government lasted an eternity. Time seemed to go backwards.”




Francisco Buarque de Hollanda was born in Rio de Janeiro, on June 19, 1944 and raised within an intellectual and privileged family. His childhood went back and forth between Brazil and Europe. He was influenced by João Gilberto and was one of the referents of the bossa nova. 

Chico Buarque´s art flourished during the sixties. At that time Brazil was under a repressive dictatorship that violated human rights and restricted freedom of expression. He was at first able to avoid censorship by changing the lyrics of his songs and using clever plays with words and cryptic analogies to hide the real meaning of his music. However, the military government ended up destroying his recording studio, interrupting his concerts and putting him in jail.

“This delivery is symbolic because it represents the victory of democracy. Chico Buarque is an artist of tremendous stature, because of his history, because of everything he has ever produced, both in music and literature.

Being a witness, participating as a minister in this moment after we suffered a recent coup attempt in Brazil and the dismantling of culture in these last four years is cause for celebration,” said the minister @MagaAfroPop about the delivery of the Camões Prize to Chico Buarque.



After an exile in Italy, he came back and along with many other musicians that had suffered censorship, his new music and poetry won political intensity. Yet with increasing elements of social protest he continued to be censored.

In 1970 his slightly simulated protest song “A pesar de você” (In spite of you) went somehow unnoticed by military censors and soon became a hymn for the democracy movement. After selling one hundred thousand copies, this single also ended up censored and every copy was removed from the market.



English Translation of Lyrics

At the return of democracy in 1985, Chico Buarque made several tours around the world and was consolidated as one of the most popular singers in Brazil. He also continued writing plays and novels. 

“We cannot forget the attack on culture and all its forms was an important dimension of the project that the extreme right tried to carry out in Brazil,” said Lula before handing Buarque his trophy.



Lula’s visit to Portugal, part a tour that included a three-day visit to China, was an opportunity to reset friendly relations between both countries. Several commercial agreements were signed, including one that allows for Brazil’s Embraer to produce airplanes in Portugal.

Lula seems determined to put Brazil back into in the geopolitical map. By taking time off to congratulate Chico Buarque for his life trajectory he also marks another difference in the attitude adopted by Bolsonaro in practically every front.

“After four years of waiting, Chico Buarque was awarded the Camões Prize, the most important in Portuguese language literature! Minister @MagaAfroPop accompanied the ceremony in Portugal,” tweeted the Ministry of Culture of Brazil.



Ramiro Pozzo | Journalist, Argentina  Born in Santa Fe, Argentina in 1971, Ramiro was exiled to the United States during Argentina’s last military dictatorship. He lived with his family in Minnesota until 1987. Once back in Argentina, he played in the lower divisions of the local soccer team. In 1997, he graduated as a bioengineer. In 2022, he graduated as a journalist. Currently, he offers training and remote technical support for medical equipment for GE Healthcare. He writes articles in English and Spanish as an independent journalist. Ramiro is a member of the Human Rights Group @HijaseHijosdel Exilio. He can be contacted at [email protected]; @ramiropozzo.