The PSD municipal group in Lisbon filed a request to obtain clarifications from the Equipment Management and Cultural Animation Company (EGEAC) on the choice of former deputy Rita Rato to head the Museu do Aljube.
The PSD’s municipal group considers, in the application disclosed this Friday, that the choice of the former deputy for the Museum of Aljube “would not be anything serious if a number of strange and contradictory questions had not been raised”, that the municipal deputies intend to “see clarified”.
On Tuesday, EGEAC announced that former communist deputy Rita Rato had been chosen to head the Aljube Museum. The municipal company recalled that, following the reform of the director of that equipment, Luís Farinha, a recruitment process was opened in April to select a new direction.
According to EGEAC, the process had several applications and that of Rita Rato stood out “for the project presented and for the performance in the interviews conducted with the jury”.
The jury was composed by Luís Farinha, the president of EGEAC, Joana Gomes Cardoso, the advisor for the area of heritage and museums, Manuel Bairrão Oleiro, and the director of Human Resources of the municipal company, Joaquim René.
However, there were several criticisms to this choice, referring to the lack of training in the area and of practical museological experience.
The PSD municipal deputies in Lisbon want EGEAC to clarify several points, namely, why “it was not privileged, in the first phase, to fill the post by appointment of a specialized technician from EGEAC or by request, to CML [Câmara Municipal de Lisboa] among the 295 senior staff of the Municipal Directorate of Culture, thus avoiding the costs of outsourcing the place to be provided ”.
The deputies intend to also see clarified “what was the Board of Directors’ decision that determined the conditions of access to the contest in question, as well as the rules of the contest and determined salary conditions”, because “the Advisory Council of the Museum was not involved in the process of selection ”,“ how many people applied and what is their distribution by academic degree and type of specialty ”, as well as“ what are the rules determined by the jury regarding the valuation of each item ”.
Among more administrative clarifications, the PSD also wants to know “how many candidates have passed the interview phase”, “what the result is, in terms of quantitative scale and of the interviews carried out”, as well as “what the final minutes and deliberation of the Board of Directors of EGEAC ”.
The case has also reached the parliament, where on Thursday the non-registered deputy Cristina Rodrigues delivered a request in which she asks for an urgent hearing by EGEAC on the appointment of Rita Rato to head the Museum of Aljube.
In the request addressed to the parliamentary committee on Culture and Communication, Cristina Rodrigues (ex-PAN) also proposes to call the Portuguese Association of Museology and the International Council of Museums to the Assembly of the Republic.
Speaking to Lusa this week, both the president of the Portuguese committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM-Portugal), Maria de Jesus Monge, and the president of the Portuguese Museum Association (APOM), João Neto, were surprised by the choice, considering that the former deputy “does not have the right profile for the position”, both in terms of training and of practical museological experience.
On the social network Facebook, historian Irene Pimentel, with research done on contemporary Portuguese history, and several works published on PIDE, asked: “What choice is this? Someone who is neither a historian nor a museologist, but just a party activist, of which she was a deputy and who, when questioned, about the Stalinist Gulag and political prisons in China, replies that she does not know anything! And who has a degree in Political Science and International Relations ”.
“Is there no public tender for city museums, or is the choice for camaraderie? Is it not worth discussing what is a museum on the subject of Aljube, which – I remember – was a political prison? ”, Adds the researcher, Prémio Pessoa in 2007, with a PhD in Institutional History and Contemporary Politics, from Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
For his part, the lawyer and historian António Araújo, who holds a PhD in Contemporary History from the Universidade Católica Portuguesa, also questioned, on his blog, the choice of Rita Rato, considering her “a serious insult to Portuguese historians and researchers (…), to and the victims for freedom ”.
In reaction to the criticisms, the PCP’s secretary general, Jerónimo de Sousa, defended the former deputy, refusing her stigmatization because she was a communist.
“Let no one think of launching this stigma because it ended 46 years ago, with the 25th of April 1974”, said Jerónimo de Sousa.
Born in Estremoz in 1983, Rita Rato has a degree in Political Science and International Relations from Universidade Nova de Lisboa.
She was a deputy for the PCP to the Assembly of the Republic, between 2009 and 2019, and was part, as coordinator of the parliamentary group, in the Education, Science and Culture Commission (2011-2015).
The Aljube Museum, opened in April 2015, in the former prison of PIDE, is one of the cultural facilities of the municipality of Lisbon, under the responsibility of EGEAC, and is dedicated to “the memory of the fight against dictatorship and resistance in favor of freedom and democracy ”.
The museum has been developing projects such as the collection of testimonies of freedom fighters and the life stories of many resistant people, for public consultation and for the future memory of the crimes committed by the dictatorship and the agents that sustained it.
Rita Rato will start functions as director of the Aljube Resistance and Freedom Museum on the 1st of August.