The Rio Olympics Opening Ceremony took place Friday night. Our Q&A with Monaco’s Brazilian community continues with Luciana de Montigny, President and Founder of the Brasil Monaco Project
ML: You are a Brazilian living in Monaco. Tell us about why and when you moved to Monaco?
LM: I moved to Monaco in the year 2000 with my husband. For Brazilians, Monaco is not that well known, but we discovered that its many facets make it one of the most attractive and fascinating places in the world. It has security, a pleasant climate (300 days of sunshine per year), quality of life, culture and education, it’s close to the airport and near fantastic places in France and Italy. Monaco offers great cultural events year-round and there is always something interesting to do. Monaco is a small country but has everything.
ML: Brazilian food is certainly well known but what is something about Brazil people may not be familiar with?
LM: The image most people have of Brazil is “samba, football, pretty woman, beaches and natural beauty”. Many see Brazil as a “party” place. But the real aspects of Brazil include creativity, scientific research, cultural diversity, mining, agriculture, investment potential, etc.
The Government of Monaco has expressed a great desire to develop a more active exchange between the two countries, on the one hand to try to get to know the real Brazil, and on the other, to send the message that Monaco is totally accessible to Brazilians.
I miss the warmth and happiness of its people. Brazilians have “happy hearts”.
ML: Tell us about the Brasil Monaco Project you founded in 2012.
LM: The Brasil Monaco Project ( BMP), a non-profit organization, is a platform for exchange between Brazil and Monaco in the fields of culture, health, science, research, environment, commerce, economy and sport. Its objective is to bring Brazil and Monaco closer together by creating a bridge between two very different countries, but which nevertheless share common values.
It supports events in Brazil, Monaco and other countries around the world. It also organizes a charity Gala every two years and we decide, with HSH Prince Albert II, which project we will support.
The first Gala provided financial assistance to the Brazilian organization “Criança Esperança”, which aims to transform the future of vulnerable children, while the second gala paid tribute to Ayrton Senna and the great work done by the Institute that bears his name, created and directed by his sister Viviane, dedicated to the education of children.
ML: The association is under the Honorary Presidency of Prince Albert II. How is the Prince supportive of the Brazilian community in Monaco?
LM: For our third Gala in São Paulo, in March 2015, it seemed essential to us, after bringing Brazilians to Monaco, to invite the head of Monaco to Brazil: Prince Albert. He is much loved there. He accepted and, as a mark of his support, he made a special trip to Brazil just for the event. The event was also an opportunity to highlight one of the issues of fundamental importance to the Prince: the preservation of the environment.
ML: Apart from the Brasil Monaco Project, what are some of the other activities you are apart of?
LM: I’m very involved in activities related to health, culture, humanitarian actions, and the environment, in both Brazil and in Monaco. For example, I supported and participated in the 2nd International Congress on Cancer Control in Women, organized in Porto Alegre, Brazil, by Professor Paulo Naud, and with the participation of Professor Franco Borruto – who was Professor of Obstetrics at the Princess Grace Hospital and is now a consultant in the field of healthcare policy for the Monaco government’s department of Social Affairs and Health – and with the support of Mr Stéphane Valeri, the Minister for Health and Social Affairs of Monaco.
This was an opportunity for our two countries to work together in the area of health, and the State of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil is using Monaco as its model in its fight against cervical cancer. The third congress will take place this year on October 27 and 28, and I will chair a forum the first day to raise awareness among women in Brazil about the prevention of cervical cancer.
ML: Brazil has received a lot of negative press regarding preparations for the Olympic Games – water is reportedly contaminated, there are concerns over lack of security and that there’s no four or five star accommodation, medical supplies are low. Do you think the event, which starts tonight, will improve or damage the country’s image?
LM: A very difficult question! Yes there has been some negative press. A big part of this problem is due to the current political context in Brazil. The country is facing a period marked by uncertainty and a lack of focus.
But Brazilians have a wonderful capacity to get things done. Brazil is like that, everything happens at the last moment, so now we need to look forward and believe that everything will be fantastic. I’m sure that every single person will do his or her best and that we will have wonderful Olympic Games.
Article first published September 25, 2016.