Azores president proud’ of Bermuda
The Azores president said last night that Bermuda’s recognition of the Azorean contribution to Bermuda made him proud.
Vasco Cordeiro, the president of the Azores regional government, said the first Portuguese immigrants who arrived 170 years ago were “heroic”.
He said: “Nowadays it’s easy to consider the challenge of leaving your homeland behind and going to other places.
“But imagine 170 years ago what it would mean to leave everything and — because you went by sea — you were not sure if you would come back.
“When I see this kind of saga recognised and acknowledged — when I see official institutions like the Bermuda Government paying tribute to all this effort — I feel proud of being an Azorean.”
Mr Cordeiro was speaking at an event held at Vasco Da Gama Club after a day of activities to mark the inaugural holiday.
The president joined David Burt, the Premier, for a ceremonial tree planting at the Botanical Gardens in Paget.
The pair also opened the new home of the House of the Azores charity located near Admiralty House in Pembroke.
Mr Cordeiro and the Azorean delegation will visit Portuguese Rock at Spittal Pond today.
Mr Cordeiro said that his talks with Mr Burt had been “excellent” and that he had invited the Premier to visit the Azores next year.
He added: “I hope we will be able to arrange everything so he can also know and visit the place where so many people came to Bermuda from.”
Mr Cordeiro said that he hoped his visit to the island — his first — would help develop the relationship between the Azores and Bermuda.
He added: “I would say that right now what you have is a relationship based on affection — people live here, they came from the Azores, they miss the Azores.
“But I think it’s important to take this relationship to the political level, to the institutional level.
“So this visit is also to try to do that.”
Mr Cordeiro said that from a young age he had heard about Bermuda from the stories told by people in his community about those who had travelled to the island.
He added: “It was something that was kind of in my imagination from my childhood — to see what Bermuda looked like.”
Paulo Franco, the Vasco president, said Mr Cordeiro’s visit was significant to Bermuda’s Portuguese community and that there was great pride over the national holiday.
Mr Franco said that while the holiday was to honour the contributions of the Portuguese the celebration was about more than the one community.
He explained: “Our stance has always been that we need to share this holiday with the whole of Bermuda.
“It was a holiday given to the Bermudian people in recognition of the Portuguese. A holiday is holiday for all.
“Our stance was always that we wanted to share the moment — be as open and welcoming to the community to participate as possible.”
Mr Franco highlighted the diverse turnout to the block party that packed Reid Street on Saturday.
He said: “It was just very nice to see many different people come together.”
Richard Ambrosio, the vice-president of Vasco Da Gama Club, said that Mr Cordeiro’s visit signified interest on behalf of the Azorean Government to “deepen” the relationship between Bermuda and the Azores.
He added: “It shows that Bermuda is not forgotten and that it merits the attention of those in power back in our ancestral homeland.”
Mr Ambrosio said that the holiday served as recognition of the role played by the Portuguese community in Bermuda that spanned generations.
He added: “It signifies that we are a part of the community — of the Bermudian family.”
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