PortVitoria: a cultural magazine of the Luso-Hispanic communities. Newsletter-2-2011

PortVitoria Newsletter

No 2 – Aug 2011

 About PortVitoria

We are a registered independent educational magazine dedicated to the Hispanic and Lusophone communities worldwide as well as to speakers of English, Portuguese and Spanish as a second language.


 PortVitoria’s  First Anniversary

July 2011 marked the first anniversary of PortVitoria (PV). The greatest achievement of the first year was to bring onboard a team of volunteer translators and revisers. Another achievement is the fact that after the initial twelve months PV started to appear on Google and other search engines in the UK, Brazil and Spain.

We aim to continue to offer quality and relevant content to our Spanish and Portuguese speaking readership. A counter was only added to PV in August 2011, and for that reason the total number of visitors appears small. You can help to make up for this by telling your friends about PV!

Our third issue

The third issue of PortVitoria is dedicated to Mario Vargas Llosa, the Peruvian-born Spanish writer who in 2010 won the Nobel Prize in Literature. Most people know Vargas Llosa as a world-renowned novelist whose books portray interesting aspects of the Latin American life.  However, Vargas Llosa is Latin America’s best known public intellectual, with a vast knowledge of Latin American history and literature. In spite of the vilification campaigns against him by the Left, his passion for fiction and non-fiction are underlined by his love for liberal democracy and individual freedom. Our review section has a review of his 2000 novel The Feast of the Goat, and of his 2010 non-fiction book ‘Sabres e Utopias’ (Sables y Utopias in Spanish). The first is the anatomy of a tyranny through the fictionalized account of Rafael Trujillo’s dictatorship in the Dominican Republic from 1930 to 1961. The second is a compilation of selected articles chosen and prefaced by Carlos Granés.

Norman Berdichevsky’s ‘The Left is Seldom Right’   

This is the title of the new book by Norman Berdichevsky, published by the New English Review Press in June 2011.


Norman is a member of the Editorial Board of PortVitoria and a regular contributor to it. ‘The Left is Seldom Right’ is an open criticism of the errors and pretences of the Left and how the left-leaning media has helped to disseminate such errors and pretences. It consists of twenty five chapters referring to various case studies of great crises –wars, alliances, conflicts, troubles, personalities and elections, in the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.

By examining the 25 cases Berdichevsky amassed strong first-hand evidence to support his charges against the Left such as its pretence to be the party which fights for the interests of the less well-off. This is a false image that stems from the linear model of political analysis contained in the expression ‘right versus left’, which to Berdichevsky is just a cheap cliché disseminated by the Left. As Berdichevsky shows in this thought-provoking book, most characteristics associated with the Left are also found in non left-wing politicians and that the only trait specific to left-wing politicians is their great disposition to promote radical changes. Norman Berdichevsky’s book costs US$19.95 and is available from


Informal Education and Life Long Learning (LLL)

Promoting informal education through informative articles of interest to its Hispanic and Lusophone readership is one of the main objectives of PortVitoria.

Informal education, defined as the sort of education that lies outside the formal curriculum and which does not lead to a degree, has always been important to the industry and the commerce sectors, as shown through staff training initiatives. Another type of informal education is the ‘continuous education’ that colleges and universities provide, which in Portuguese is referred to as ‘extensão’.  Now there is also a broader and individually tailored form of informal education where learning is an open and life-enduring process known as ‘life long learning’, or LLL (in Portuguese: ‘aprendizado de vida’). What makes LLL different is that it is about free learning: learning for the sake of learning and for pleasure. In higher education this type of learning is known as ‘liberal education’.

Liberal education via LLL succeeds because the satisfaction one gets from learning acts as a feedback mechanism to seek further learning. Although LLL requires some coaching, it is essentially a self-didactic  activity based on reading books, especially those considered part of the Western canon. The development of broadband internet has made LLL possible and feasible. Now anyone can have access to the out-of-print books that formerly were only available in universities’ libraries.

The potential of LLL in supporting good democracy and a good society is greater than people realise. This is specially so in Latin America, where there is a growing number of power-seeking individuals who are attempting to cajole workers to support their organizations, including some that have associations with known terrorist groups.

Workers engaged in a LLL program of liberal education would be more likely to see what lies beyond the public display of inclusiveness and the screen of misinformation presented by some organizations and would not allow themselves be cajoled by them.

A Quotation about LLL

“…We must immediately expand our vision beyond standard educational institutions. In our cultures of today – and of tomorrow – parents, peers, and media play roles at least as significant as do authorized teachers and formal schools…if any cliché of recent years ring true, it is the acknowledgment that learning must be lifelong.” – Howard Gardner

Who is Howard Gardner?

Howard Gardner (1943- ) is a Harvard-educated American educationalist who specialised in human cognition and developed the theory of multiple forms of intelligence. In 1983 this was quite revolutionary because until then the only form of intelligence that was recognisable was the academic type, which was associated with being good in mathematics or in memorizing content. Gardner defined intelligence as ‘the capacity to solve problems or to fashion products that are valued in one or more cultural setting’ (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). To date the eight forms of intelligence that Gardner has  identified are:

  • Linguistic
  • Logical-Mathematical
  • Musical
  • Bodily/-kinaesthetic
  • Spatial
  • Interpersonal
  • Intrapersonal
  • Naturalistic

The above forms of intelligence identified refer to the ways in which individuals capture, retain and manipulate information. One important implication of Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences is that  the intelligence of an individual is not fixed at birth but can be improved, increased, or transformed. Although there are still many gaps in Gardner’s theory, it has helped educators to reflect on their practices and to encourage other ways of teaching that explores the individuality of each pupil.

Gardner is an adjunct Professor at Harvard University and also teaches at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is also a rare example of the individual who succeeded in life in spite of being born cross-eyed, myopic, colour-blind and unable to recognise faces.

Why English?

An old friend from Brazil asked me why English is used in  PortVitoria if the magazine is aimed at speakers of Spanish and Portuguese. The answer to this question is that English was chosen due to its role as the world language. English provides a neutral bridge between the Hispanic and the Lusophone communities and between these two and the rest of the world. A second reason for using English is to further disseminate PortVitoria to learners of Spanish, Portuguese and English as second languages.


PortVitoria recognises that there are many talented writers out there and would like to tap into this pool of talents. If you are an essay writer or reviewer and would like to contribute to PortVitoria, please drop us a line with your complete or proposed article.


Many thanks to Tim Twineham for revising this edition of the PortVitoria Newsletter

Have a great day!


 Joaquina Pires-O’Brien


Nota. Leia PortVitoria

Check out PortVitoria, a biannual digital magazine of current affairs, culture and politics centered on the Iberian culture and its diaspora.

PortVitoria offers informed opinion on topics of interest to the Luso-Hispanic world. Its content appears in Portuguese, Spanish &/or English.

Help PortVitoria to continue by putting a link to it in your blog or Facebook account.


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