Marcelo addresses children saying: “The future is different people, with different cultures … working together and building together a great nation”
Portugal’s president has ended an “unforgettable” visit to the emigrant and Portuguese descendent communities of California with a message of “defence of diversity, openness to migration and tolerance”.
North of San Francisco, beyond the Golden Gate Bridge, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was in Tiburon, Marin County, on Wednesday, where in other times there were pastures and cowsheds of Azorean immigrants who settled there in the 19th century, who are today honoured.
The head of state laid the first stone at a monument honouring Azorean dairy farmers, in a ceremony attended by Tiburon and Marin County officials and joined by schoolchildren from a local school.
“Think how hard it was to come here and help build this beautiful nation,” he said. “It was only possible because you accepted us, you understood that your country should be a melting pot, to welcome migrants from everywhere,” he added.
The President of the Republic stressed that on this five-day trip to the West Coast of the United States he was accompanied by the Secretary of State for Communities, Paulo Cafôfo, and by members of parliament from four parties, “from left to right”, not to say “extreme left, extreme right”, PS, PSD, Chega and Bloco de Esquerda.
And he included all these parties in a unity regarding migrants: “Left, right, centre-right, centre-left, we are together when we talk about migrants and pay tribute to all migrants, because this is what Portugal is, this is what the Azores are.”
Addressing the children and youngsters who were there, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa described the moment as “a tribute to the future” and not only to the past: “You are the future. I don’t know if there is any Silva or any Sousa there or anyone with a Portuguese name.”
“It doesn’t matter, you understand what the future is. The future is different people, with different cultures, with different roots, with different origins, together, working together and building together a great nation”, he considered.
During this ceremony, Tiburon Mayor John Welner and Marin County Representative Stephanie Moulton-Peters also left messages of advocacy for diversity and inclusion.
“We are committed to ensuring that Marin is a place where everyone can participate, thrive, reach their full potential, regardless of their race, gender, national origin, age, abilities, sexual orientation or postcode,” said Stephanie Moulton-Peters.
Later, while walking along the Tiburon waterfront, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa chatted with a local journalist to whom he pointed out “tolerance” as the fundamental characteristic that a politician should have in the United States.
In Sausalito, also in Marin County, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa summed up this “unforgettable” visit, with the members of parliament behind him, except Pedro Filipe Soares, parliamentary leader of the Left Bloc (BE), who chose to stay at a distance.
According to the head of state, “all Portuguese people understand” the importance of a visit like this, which was intended, first of all, to “thank the Portuguese communities”.
“The communities are essential to Portugal, because the communities are Portugal, and they are in many cases the most dynamic, most alive, most turned towards the future of Portugal, and even more courageous, because they had the courage to dare to risk,” he praised.
“There is no Portuguese person who does not understand the importance of communities”, he added.