Lawyer uses connections with Chinese

Updated: 2015-03-09 23:51

By JI YE in Rio de Janeiro(China Daily Latin America)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0
Lawyer uses connections with Chinese

Brazilian lawyer Danillo Santos speaks at a meeting related to the "nine Chinese citizens". PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The year was 1964, and Danillo Santos was then a 30-year-old Brazilian lawyer. It would be a year in which Santos would start what has become a 50-year-long connection with China.

In April of that year, just a few days after the coup that took down President Joao Goulart and installed a military junta in Brazil, nine Chinese citizens legally residing in the country were arrested, accused of being foreign spies plotting to start a communist revolution in Brazil.

The nine men were held incommunicado for 39 days until a local lawyer, Heraclito Fontoura Sobral Pinto, decided to take up their case pro bono. At the time, Santos was appointed by the Chinese government to be Pinto's assistant.

With the help of Pinto and Santos, after being jailed for several months all nine men were expelled from Brazil and sent back to China, where they received heroes' welcome.

Since then, Santos's link with China has become closer. He promotes the development of Brazil and China's relations and on his visits to China he has seen the changes taking place.

In 1966, Santos was invited to China for his first visit and was reunited with the nine Chinese he helped.

"I met Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai in China. General Chen Yi also had a four-hour talk with us," he said. "But what touched me most is that the Chinese people were living a life of self-improvement, even though they were not so rich at that time."

Santos would later visit China frequently. "Every time I visit, China is a pleasant experience. The rapid development of China surprises me a lot,'' he said.

In addition to promoting bilateral trade and economic cooperation, Santos also is dedicated to friendly exchanges between the two countries. In 1974, when China and Brazil established diplomatic ties, Santos was again appointed by Chinese government to deal with legal issues, this time on building the Chinese embassy in Brazil.

In November 2003, to recognize Santos's contributions, Cheng Siwei, former vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and head of the China and Latin America Friendship Association, awarded the "Latin American Friendship Medal" to him.

Last year Santos visited China three times. In January he and his wife went to Beijing for tourism. In April he was invited to China to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Brazil and China Friendship Association. In November he attended an awards ceremony held by CCTV.

Since initiating market reforms in 1978, China has shifted from a centrally planned to a market-based economy and experienced rapid economic and social development. Witnessing the great changes that have taken place in China, Santos said China deserves a world-wide compliment.

"Nowadays, Chinese people always dress beautifully and are very proud of their country. The Chinese government attaches great importance toward education. Hospitals in China are able to compete with the ones in Europe and the United States," Santos said. "China's development is so fast that when I first visited China, all of these changes could only be seen in pictures, but now they are at your fingertips."

He said Brazil and China have cooperated under the framework of the BRICS mechanism, but there is great potential for cooperation between the two developing countries.

On Dec 18 last year, the Brazilian government announced it was withdrawing the exclusion order toward the nine men, saying they didn't commit any crimes and were victims of the dictatorship. The announcement made Santos cry.

"Now I'm old," said the 81-year-old Santos. "In Brazil there are more and more people like me to actively promote the friendship between the two countries. But I will always be ready to continuously make my contribution."