Working Today for Our Community's Tomorrow
The Portuguese-American Leadership Council of the United States
The Monthly Newsletter of PALCUS
Special Notice - U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada
SPECIAL EDITION: U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada
PALCUS has been at the forefront of the campaign to maintain the operation of the U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel in the Azores. After monitoring the situation for several months, PALCUS has launched a comprehensive campaign to raise awareness and gather support. The campaign is gaining momentum through our letter writing initiative, press and social media outreach, appealing to federal and state legislators and meetings with U.S. Department of State representatives in Washington, D.C.
Logo of the U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada
"We are united. Friendship since 1795."
Why is the U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada important to Portuguese-Americans?
The U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada is the oldest, continuously operating U.S. Consulate in the world. From the beginnings of our nation, the Azores have played a strategic role as a stepping stone for relations with Europe. As early as 1777, the Continental Congress used the islands to coordinate travel for emissaries seeking support from Europe for the revolution. In 1795, President George Washington named John Street as the first U.S. Consul to Portugal in the Azores.
Ever since, the Azores have held strategic military and diplomatic significance for the United States. The islands have been the site of operations for World War II and the site of the Lajes Air Force Base on the island of Terceira. Numerous diplomatic meetings and summits have taken place under the presidencies of Woodrow Wilson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush.
Even more importantly, 14,000 American citizens visit the Azores each year. The vast majority of this number travel to visit family and friends which is no surprise since there are three times as many Azoreans in the United States as in the Azores. The consulate is important for the safety, rights and well-being of all American citizens living or visiting the Azores. Without this consulate, the nearest services are 950 miles and an ocean away at the Embassy of the United States in Lisbon.
Meeting with U.S. State Department in Washington, DC
On Friday, January 27th, Board of Directors Chair Fernando G. Rosa and Government Affairs Chair Rosa Alves, J.D., met with Doreen Maroney, Desk Officer for Portugal & Spain, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs and David Feldmann, Desk Officer for Western Europe, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department offices in Washington, D.C.
PALCUS learned that the State Department is conducting an audit of all embassy and consular offices throughout the globe with the objective of streamlining services and cutting costs. PALCUS was told that there are no imminent plans to curtail or close the consulate's services in Ponta Delgada, however, there were also no assurances that this would not happen. The meeting was cordial and PALCUS will continue to stay in contact with the State Department on this matter. PALCUS will also continue to drive home the point that the consulate is essential to the safety and welfare of U.S. citizens in the Azores and is not a duplication of services at the Embassy in Lisbon, 950 miles away.
Nationwide Letter-Writing Campaign
Drawing on its nationwide reach, PALCUS has mailed letters to 416 Portuguese-American clubs, organizations and associations throughout the country appealing to them to write letters to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton against the closing of the consulate. They were urged to not only send a letter as an organization but to provide photocopies of the sample letter to their members to mail as well. This multiplier effect can generate hundreds if not thousands of letters in support of keeping the consulate in operation.
In addition, PALCUS Directors have personally reached out to their respective communities encouraging their participation in this campaign by talking about the issue at meetings and events. Social media has played a part as well by regularly promoting participation on Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo-Groups and Linked-In.
Legislative Support on Federal, State and Local Levels
The Portuguese-American Caucus of the U.S. House of Representatives, co-chaired by Congressmen Jim Costa (CA), Dennis Cardoza (CA), Jim McGovern (MA) and David Cicilline (RI), sent a letter in support of the consulate last fall to Secretary Clinton. A letter from Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) of the Friends of Portugal in the U.S. Senate, soon followed.
State legislators have also joined the movement. On February 1, 2012, RI State Representative Helio Melo sponsored a resolution on behalf of other RI Representatives of the Portuguese-American Caucus of the RI House of Representatives, "respectfully requesting Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to continue operations at the American consulate in Ponta Delgada, Azores." See resolution at: http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText12/HouseText12/H7321.pdf
In addition, the Hon. William Flanagan, Mayor of Fall River, MA., where a high concentration of Azorean-Americans reside, recently added his letter to the campaign in support of the citizens of that city.
How can you help?
We all agree that maintaining pressure on the State Department is the best strategy in making our voice heard. The State Department will recognize individually mailed letters accompanied by a name and address and signed in BLUE ink. Government agencies do not recognize petitions or mass mailings.
Therefore, please consider mailing your letter today and ask your friends to do the same. Feel free to copy, paste and print the following sample letter or write one of your own. You can also copy and paste this letter into an online form: http://contact-us.state.gov/app/ask
Thank you for your support! We are 1.5 Million strong and we have a voice if we choose to use it!
Sample Letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
The Honorable Hillary Clinton
Secretary of State
U. S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Clinton:
As a Portuguese-American, I am writing to object to the closing of the U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada in the Azores, Portugal for the following reasons:
The US Consulate in Ponta Delgada is extremely important to the safety, security and rights of the 14,000 American citizens who travel there every year primarily to visit family in the Azores.
If the consulate closed, the nearest services would be at the US Embassy in Lisbon, 950 miles away, creating hardship for the citizens who would need help.
There are three times as many Portuguese-Americans of Azorean descent in the United States as in the Azores mostly in the states of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, California and Hawaii.
The US Consulate in Ponta Delgada is the oldest continuously operating US consulate in the world.
U.S. Air Force's 65th Air Base Wing at Lajes Field on the island of Terceira continues to be of critical military and diplomatic strategic importance.
President Barack Obama and President of the Republic of Portugal Anibal Cavaco Silva reaffirmed the work of the U.S. - Portugal Bilateral Commission in strengthening ties between the two allies and friends at a meeting in the Oval Office on November 8, 2011.
Please keep the U.S. Consulate in Ponta Delgada open!
Thank you for your kind consideration.
Signature:________________________________________ Date: _________________
9255 Center St., Suite 404
Manassas, VA 20110
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In order to create a singular voice to advocate for the Portuguese
American and Luso-American communities at large, the Portuguese American
Leadership Council of the United States Inc. (PALCUS) was founded in 1991
as a 501 © 3 non partisan, non profit, organization headquartered in Washington
The PALCUS mission is to address domestic and international concerns of
the Portuguese American Community.
The Council conducts an expanding program of educational and public affairs
activities on issues of interest to the Portuguese American community and of
salience to the Luso-American Relationship.
PALCUS is committed to serving the community through increasingly active
government relations efforts, the promotion of a greater awareness of ethnic
accomplishments and encouraging stronger ties between Portugal and the United
States. In this role PALCUS advance the community professionally, politically
and culturally while working to ensure that issues directly affecting our
community are addressed through our network of government and community
PALCUS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated under the laws of
the District of Columbia. Donations are tax
deductible to extent allowed by law.