Published On: Tue, May 19th, 2020

Diplomat José Cutileiro died

Ambassador José Cutileiro died this Sunday in Brussels, where he lived, his wife told Lusa. The 85-year-old diplomat was hospitalized, the same source added.

Chronicler and writer, José Cutileiro was one of the negotiators for Portugal’s accession to the European Economic Community (EEC) and was part of the coordination team of the Peace Conference for Yugoslavia, in 1992, among other positions throughout his career. He was a chronicler at Expresso where, over the course of several years, he signed an obituary rubric.

José Cutileiro was born in Évora, in 1934, and studied Architecture and Medicine in Lisbon, having graduated in Social Anthropology. He received his doctorate at Oxford University, England, in 1968, and published two books of verses, the anthropological monograph ‘Rich and Poor in the Alentejo’, an essay on the crisis in the Balkans and articles on international relations.

In 1974, at the invitation of Mário Soares, he joined the diplomatic service, acting as ambassador in Maputo and Pretoria. Between 2005 and 2014 he was Special Adviser to the then president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. He spent his life jumping from side to side, but always maintained a strong connection to his home country, which he analyzes with the dispassionate eyes of the distance.

The sculptor João Cutileiro’s brother moved to Lisbon with his parents at the age of 3, leaving behind a family divided between paternal republicanism and the Catholicism of his maternal grandfather, Salazar’s admirer. At the age of 17, he traveled with his family to Kabul and, on his return, he hesitated between Architecture, Medicine and gatherings with José Cardoso Pires, Luís Stau Monteiro and Augusto Abelaira, at Almanaque, before surrendering to Anthropology, “that helped to think ”in Oxford.

In an interview with the Observer, at the end of 2017, he said that his life would change course with the 25th of April and with “friend” Mário Soares, who opened the doors of diplomacy. In South Africa, he met Nelson Mandela, recently released from prison, and Desmond Tutu. He joined the PS at the request of Mário Soares, but soon he left, after concluding that politics would never be his destiny. He never joined parties again.

He joined and disbanded the PS for being averse to militancy

The reason for the abandonment of militancy justified it because the PS was “too attached to Marxist notions”. and for feeling close to some people from PSD or CDS. He always saw diplomacy as a form of public service and the diplomat as an intermediary with a known position, a person “with a declared interest”, saying that the English version was the one that best defined the function. He was one of the functions that most marked him and liked him most, which he left when in 1994 he was chosen to be secretary general of WEU (Western European Union). Whenever the government changed, make the place available.

“Diplomats are used to prevent wars, in the end this is it”, he summarized. Writing was another of his passions, even confessing that it was not Rainer Maria Rilke, “who said that if you realize that if you don’t write, you die; otherwise it’s not worth it ”. The obituaries for Expresso came about because he got used to death columns in England and thought they were an important record.

Two decades ago, he made his writing debut for Expresso in an international relations column entitled ‘The World of Others’, followed by obituaries, especially foreign personalities, especially those he admired when he returned from the USA. The ones he didn’t like, he said he didn’t know “so well”. But in either case, I guaranteed that I wrote the truth. He wrote that of Mário Soares and that of Maria de Jesus. And also that of Fidel Castro, a dictator who, he commented, “fell for some,” “he was not a good man, but there were worse.”

Diplomat José Cutileiro died