Brazil’s Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, challenged the 35 member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) to include culture on the list of basic policies to promote economic development and foster social inclusion.
At the second OAS Ministers meeting, which ended on August 24, in Mexico, Gil emphasized: “Government policies for culture can no longer be secondary, fragile, peripheral. They represent the social and infrastructure policies of the 21st century.”
According to the Minister, it is necessary to expand the notion of culture as a vital dimension of citizenship, social inclusion, and quality of life, “the notion of culture as an obligation of the State.”
Gil reminded the other ministers present that the development process “is not completed, if it is not given cultural underpinnings, if it does not incorporate wider access by the population to the means of production and dissemination of cultural materials.”
Ealier this month, the Culture Minister talked about creativity as a basis of the production process during the First Evaluation Meeting of the XI United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)in Geneva.
For Gil, the so-called creative industries should have a distinct policy. In his view, cultural goods and services cannot be treated in the same way as their commercial counterparts, because they contain specific values for sovereignty and the preservation of cultures.
At the XI UNCTAD, which took place this year in São Paulo, the Minister launched a proposal calling for a global policy of free circulation of cultural goods and products.
Gil’s idea is to mobilize the international community to turn creative industries into instruments of leverage for developing countries.
Now the Minister wishes to establish the International Forum of Creative Industries, with headquarters in Brazil, to discuss the implementation of strategies in this area.
In Geneva, Gil launched the foundations of the National and World Capoeira Program (Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian form of self-defense that is also practiced as a sport).
The Minister promises to convene this year the first meeting of capoeira practitioners from Brazil and other countries to discuss the organization of the program. Among the initial ideas are proposals that encompass schools, students, and the government.
The first idea is for the creation of a program in schools, in partnership with the Ministries of Sports and Education, so that capoeira is not viewed solely as a sports event, but as a cultural and artistic activity.
Another plan is to establish a specific social security plan for practitioners. The program also intends to provide support for capoeira practitioners who live abroad and to develop capoeira as an instrument of citizenship and social inclusion.
In Geneva the Minister also participated in a tribute to Sérgio Vieira de Mello, a Brazilian who represented the United Nations (UN) on a humanitarian mission in Iraq, where he died a year ago, victim of a terrorist attack on the UN headquarters in Baghdad.