“Santa Maria” forever

On Estonian-Portuguese literary relations

In January 1961 all papers wrote about the seizure of the Portuguese liner „Santa Maria” in protest against the dictatorship ruling Portugal at the time. In occupied Estonia „Santa Maria” became a symbol of freedom and rebellion whose use in arts and literature is best exemplified by a painting by Aleksander Suuman and a romantic freedom-singing poem by Paul-Eerik Rummo. Even a cafe ship in Tartu on the river Emajõgi was popularly christened „Santa Maria”. Those were marks of the social optimism raised in Estonia by the political „thaw” of the early 1960s, soon, however, running into the sands of reaction.