The revelation came from Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa himself
USA president Joe Biden has praised the Portuguese and Portuguese-American communities living in the country.
This is what Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa told an audience of Portuguese immigrants yesterday in Terrytown, 50 kilometres north of New York City.
“When it was my turn to speak to President Biden two days ago at the reception for heads of state and government, what did he talk about first?” de Sousa began. “Of the Portuguese and Portuguese-American community here in the United States – to praise it.”
In a speech to around 400 people in Tarrytown, the head of state added that Biden “knew how many of us there were, how important we were, how important we are; he knew that we are a community with a future.
“We have lots and lots of young people,” de Sousa continued. “It’s a young community: it’s a community with a future.”
Marcelo was speaking on Thursday night, in what were the early hours of the morning in Portugal, at a gala organised by the New York Portuguese American Leadership Conference (NYPALC), which brings together dozens of Portuguese-American organisations in the state of New York.
The head of state took the opportunity to appeal to members of the Portuguese community to remain “connected to the homeland of their roots”, in terms of political participation, and to “not stop voting” in Portugal’s elections.
On the other hand, he argued that the Portuguese language – “one of the five most spoken in the world” and “the most spoken language in the southern hemisphere” – is “an asset” for the younger generations in the US, noting that “those of Portuguese descent who speak Portuguese earn on average a quarter more in wages than other residents” and “have more higher education” levels.
In his speech, the president described the Portuguese as a people who stand out for being “capable of dialogue with everyone, even when they don’t dialogue with each other” and expressed pride in the work of the secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres – a former prime minister of Portugal – whom he held up as an example of this capacity for dialogue.
“We have this pride: we arrive anywhere in the world, we speak that language, we take on that culture,” he said. “We don’t lose our roots or our traditions, but we integrate. We do it the way we breathe, it’s our way of being, and that’s why they like us.“
Marcelo mentioned that he had been meaning to attend a NYPALC gala for years but that “there was always a last-minute snag” and he received applause when he exclaimed that “there is more to New York than Manhattan.”
The head of state arrived in the US on Sunday evening to take part in the 78th session of the UN General Assembly and parallel high-level meetings between representatives of the organisation’s 193 member countries.
Before travelling back to Portugal on Friday night, he was to have two more meetings with members of the Portuguese community in two cities in the US state of New Jersey, Elizabeth and Newark.