Portuguese American Journal

Community: Advocating for the civil rights of Portuguese citizens in the USA – Washington, D.C.

The Council of Portuguese Communities in North America (CRAN/CCP) convened in Washington D.C. last weekend to address pertinent issues related to Portuguese American communities.

The Council’s primary objective is to advocate for the fundamental rights of Portuguese citizens living in the United States and Canada.

During the annual meeting, the Council strongly denounced the budget cuts made by the Portuguese Government in the teaching of the Portuguese language and the inadequate wages offered to consular workers. Despite an increase in the number of students learning Portuguese, the government has slashed funding for language instruction, which has caused significant concern among Portuguese Americans.

The Council issued a statement to the press expressing its discontent with these budget cuts, as well as with the low wages paid to consular workers, which are below the minimum salary in the United States.

In addition to these issues, the Council discussed other matters of concern, including the challenges faced by Portuguese Americans in maintaining their associative life while transitioning to mainstream assimilation, the importance of supporting Portuguese media, and the need to facilitate the process of electoral participation for all Portuguese citizens living abroad. The Council emphasized the right of citizens from the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira to vote in regional legislative elections.

Created by Law No. 66-A / 2007, of 11 December, amended and republished by Law No. 29/2015, of 16 April, the Council of Portuguese Communities (CCP) is the Government’s advisory body for policies relating to Portuguese emigration and the civil rights of Portuguese citizens living abroad.

The Council issues opinions, at the request of the Portuguese Government on the draft of legislative and administrative acts, concerning the Portuguese communities living abroad. 

The Council of Portuguese Communities in North America is represented by elected members (left to right) João Pacheco, Bruno Machado, Nelson Garça, Pedro Bicudo, Daniel Loureiro, Manny Viegas e Paulo Martins.


Full Statement issued by CRAN/CCP

The Teaching Coordination for Portuguese language in the USA has been facing budget cuts, despite an increase in the number of students. Similarly, consular workers are struggling with wages below the US minimum. These are serious issues that the North America Regional Council of Portuguese Communities/CRAN discussed at its annual meeting in Washington this past weekend.

The CRAN/CCP aims to defend the basic rights of Portuguese citizens residing in the USA and Canada. However, it notes that solutions to major community issues have been postponed, with responses to reviews lagging behind the speech of the Secretary of State for Communities. These issues include associative life in second-generation communities, support for Portuguese media, and the exercise of basic electoral rights.

The CRAN/CCP proposed solutions for each of these situations. Although many have received verbal support from the two Secretaries of State over the past four years, the answers have been slow, and the problems have worsened without fundamental issues being resolved.

The CRAN/CCP also analyzed situations of empowerment in communities, such as the emergence of new schools through community initiative and funding in Palm Coast, Florida, and Gilroy and Half Moon Bay, California. It noted progressive integration of ethnicity with civic-political empowerment in general in the USA and Canada, with examples in the Commonwealth of Santa Clara, California, Elizabeth, New Jersey, and Palm Coast, Florida. The Portuguese-American Digital Archives at UMASS Lowell and the Magellan Project in support of the Elderly Community in Toronto were also noteworthy.

The CRAN/CCP welcomes the elimination of the tax burden for non-residents paying almost twice as much in capital gains tax. However, it expresses concern regarding the limitation of basic rights of citizenship imposed on Portuguese citizens residing abroad. It defends solutions to mitigate difficulties faced by thousands of Portuguese citizens voting in consulates, and the same right to participate in elections for the legislative elections of the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira for national legislative elections. The CRAN also demands that the principle of residence in the constituency be applied to all candidates for parliamentary elections representing the Communities.

Finally, the CRAN CCP  was pleased with the broad dialogue established by the Portuguese Ambassador in Washington, extending to the entire consular body of North America, where the major issues of each consular area were discussed in cooperation with representative institutions of the Communities.

Source: Regional Council of North America/Council of Portuguese Communities (CRAN/CCP) – Washington, March 5, 2023 (Press release translated from Portuguese) Contact: Pedro Bicudo bicudo.comunidades@gmail.com

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