Date: June 20, 2007
Department: News & Public Information
On the 20th, in Washington, the President will be the Guest of Honor at the Gala dinner that will inaugurate the exhibition "Encompassing the Globe: Portugal and the World in the 16th and 17th centuries," organized by the Smithsonian Institution. This will be the biggest event of its kind about Portugal ever presented in the capital city of the United States.
The 21st, 22nd, and 23rd will be exclusively devoted to the contact with the Portuguese communities in the Boston, New Bedford/Fall River and N.J. areas.
Highlighting the connection between Portugal and Massachusetts
The President's visit to Boston, New Bedford, Fall River, UMass Dartmouth and other communities highlights the close cultural, political, and economic connection that exists between Portugal, Massachusetts, and the Unites States.
According to the 2000 US Census, more than one million Americans are of Portuguese descent. About 5% of the population of Massachusetts is identified as Portuguese-Americans. Due to the influx of Brazilian, Portuguese and Cape Verdean immigrants, Portuguese is now by some estimates the second language of Massachusetts.
Massachusetts is the only state where Portuguese is more prevalent than Spanish. The Taunton-New Bedford-Fall River triangle has one of the largest concentrations of Portuguese-Americans in the nation.
The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth has a strong academic relationship with Portugal. The Foreign Ministry of Portugal donated $400,000 to Portuguese Studies at UMass Dartmouth in 1998 for the development of a graduate program in Portuguese and the publishing of Portuguese-language textbooks. The donation was matched by the state 50 cents to the dollar, and is now the major support for the MA and Ph.D. programs. The Government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores donated $100,000 toward the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives in June 2007.
Indicative of the seafaring bond between Portugal and the South Coast, UMass Dartmouth School of Marine Science and Technology Professor Brian Rothschild, a nationally recognized expert on fisheries, is a member of the permanent advisory board to Portugal's Institute of Marine Research.
BcpBank, an international commercial bank based in Portugal, has opened branches in Massachusetts (Fall River and New Bedford). Genzyme has located a satellite operation in Portugal. Cambridge recently signed a sister city agreement with a Portuguese city.
Portugal is viewed by some as a European portal to African nations such as Angola and Mozambique, former Portuguese colonies. Our cultural relationship with the nation also positions Massachusetts for economic and cultural relations with Portuguese-speaking Brazil.
Portugal was the first non-combatant country (a country which did not participate in the American Revolution) to recognize an independent United States.
Massachusetts' own John Quincy Adams served as the first American ambassador to Portugal. The American Consulate in Sao Miguel was the first American consulate opened abroad (1795), and it has continuously operated since then.
Before American Independence, there was trade between the two countries involving several products, including Madeira wine. In fact, this dessert wine has been extremely popular among New Englanders since the seventeenth century.