Pedro I’s Heart Back in Brazil for 200th Independence Day

BTo commemorate the 200-years of Portuguese independence, razil took home the embalmed heart and body of Dom Pedro I (the first Brazilian Emperor) as a gift. He was a champion for representative government. Today’s ceremony will feature the preserved organ. It arrived via military aircraft from Portugal on Monday and was brought to Brasilia.

“The heart will be received like a head of state, it will be treated as if Dom Pedro I was still living amongst us,” said Brazil foreign ministry’s chief of protocol Alan Coelho de Séllos. “The national anthem [will be played] and the independence anthem, which by the way was composed by Dom Pedro I, who as well as an emperor was a good musician in his spare time.”

According to reports, the ceremony would include a cannon salute and a guard honor.

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Brazilians will have the opportunity to view it at a foreign ministry before the return to Portugal in September. Per his will, Pedro’s heart was kept in Porto—preserved in a formaldehyde glass vase at a church.

The lawmaker Luiz Philippe de Orleans e Bragança, a member of Brazil’s former royal family, said in an interview with radio station Jovem pan on Monday that, “We lost a little of our reference of Brazil’s founders, what they represented, what they thought, what they hoped for Brazil. It is very important to bring some of that back.”

Some historians have criticised the intention to showcase the heart. They argued that Jair Bolsonaro, Brazilian President, is appealing towards nationalism as part of his campaign for reelection before the general election on October 2. “This is going to be a farce by Bolsonaro, welcoming this heart like a visiting dignitary,” historian Lilia Schwarcz, who has written books on Pedro I and Brazilian independence, told The Guardian. “We should ask ourselves what kind of way this is to think about history—a dead history stuck in time, like the stopped organ of a deceased emperor.”

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Pedro was a Portuguese king who lived between 1798 and 1834. He was part of Portugal’s royal family, which fled to Brazil as Napoleon’s army invaded their country. He refused to allow Brazil to be colonized, and instead fought to have his country return. Instead, he helped lead Brazil to independence in Sept. 7, 1822. After which, he was named Emperor.

While he is fondly remembered by Brazilians as a hero for liberating their country, his reign proved to be quite heavy handed. He dissolved the Brazilian Assembly as they were in the process of creating a liberal constitution, and exiled radical leader José Bonifácio de Andrada e Silva, who was also instrumental in helping Brazil achieve independence. Pedro was forced to give up his throne in the face of local revolts and surrender it to his son, 1831. Then he went back to Portugal.

Pedro, who was 35 years old, died from tuberculosis. While his heart resides in Porto, his body remains in São Paulo.

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