King Felipe and the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs have traveled to Lisbon for the funeral
MADRID, 12 Sep. (EUROPA PRESS) –
Portugal has said goodbye this Sunday with a state funeral to former president Jorge Sampaio, who held the position between 1996 and 2006, in a ceremony that was attended by the country’s main political personalities and also with representation from countries such as Spain, with King Felipe VI.
The non-religious act was held at the Jerónimos de Belén Monastery in Lisbon, where the coffin arrived after a solemn funeral procession accompanied by long applause from the Belén Palace, official residence of the Portuguese president and place of the burning chapel. The burial has been a private ceremony reserved for the Sampaio family.
The funeral was attended by the three highest political figures in Portugal: the president, the prime minister and the president of the Assembly of the Republic –Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, António Costa and Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues–, as well as with the kings of Spain, Don Felipe and Doña Leticia, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, and the Vice President of Angola, Bornito de Sousa.
Also present were the widow of Sampaio, Maria José Ritta, and the two sons of the former president, Vera Sampaio and André Sampaio in an act that has included the music band of the Republican National Guard that has interpreted the funeral march and four airplanes of F-16 fighter.
Costa, elected by the Socialist Party, like Sampaio, stressed that the former president was “an exemplary citizen, a good man and an exceptional Portuguese and a politician who did a service for the community.”
“He has been a reference and standard of demand. He has been a politician with principles, demanding and ultra-demanding with himself. He has been a firm and inflexible politician who never gave in to essential values,” said the Portuguese prime minister.
Costa recalled that Sampaio was mayor of Lisbon between 1990 and 1995, so “he began to build the city that is today Lisbon” and has mentioned his participation in the political process in East Timor, a Portuguese colony that became independent in 1975 but occupied by Indonesia. until 2002.
“The defense of East Timor has been a model of diplomatic intelligence. Until the end, he was a man of causes and values,” said Costa, for whom Sampaio “knew how to find effective ways to give prestige to the name of Portugal.”
The current Portuguese president, Rebelo de Sousa, has stressed that Sampaio “was one of our greatest”, a figure in Portuguese history who had “the supreme delicacy of almost apologizing for building it.” “Sampaio loved Portugal not by force, but by fragility (…). He never wanted to be a hero, but he was,” he added.
Also the leader of the opposition, Rui Rio, has highlighted in a message the “great sense of state” of Sampaio, “a good man, a just man.” Rio has excused himself from the ceremony due to the fact of residing in Porto.
Sampaio died on Friday, September 10, in a Lisbon hospital at the age of 81. He had been hospitalized for several weeks for respiratory problems that were added to several heart ailments with which he had lived for years.
The King of Spain has been at the funeral, the Royal House has reported, which has stressed that Felipe VI “has accompanied the people of Portugal in the loss of a great personality committed to strengthening the relationship between both countries.”
Taking advantage of his trip, the King has held meetings with the presidents and assisting authorities, among them the Secretary General of the United Nations, António Guterres. After the ceremony, Don Felipe went to the Figo Maduro military airport to return to Spain.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, José Luis Albares, has also been in Lisbon. “Today, I accompanied His Majesty the King to the state funeral of President Sampaio, an intellectual and moral benchmark,” Albares posted on Twitter.
On the other hand, the first president of East Timor, Xanana Gusmao, has sent a letter to the Sampaio family with his “deepest condolences” for the death of “a friend and an inspiration of the noblest values of democracy, the humanism and international solidarity “.
Sampaio’s death “is hardly relieved by the consolation of having had the honor and privilege of having lived personally with Jorge Sampaio and by the memory of his achievements, incomparable in the history” of Portugal and East Timor.
“There are many moments that I have engraved in my memory and my heart, but I cannot stop highlighting the moment in which we cried together as we contemplated the birth of East Timor, on May 20, 2002, a project that he pampered and promoted in a tireless, “he recalled.