Rafael Pérez, the newly appointed US Consul in the Azores, said in Ponta Delgada Tuesday that a decision, regarding a possible closure of the US Consulate in the Azores, was not yet taken and that he considered “inappropriate” any speculation to that effect.
Speaking to journalists at the end of an audience with Carlos César, President of the Regional Government, Rafael Pérez admitted that the US Department of State is currently reviewing its diplomatic missions worldwide.
He said, “The Department of State (because the budgetary situation of the country) is reviewing all missions abroad,” adding that the US “values the relationship with Portugal, and particularly with the Azores.”
Last month a letter of protest was sent to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by Congressional Portuguese American Caucus Members, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (Co-Chair), Rep. David Cicilline, Rep. Jim Costa (Co-Chair), Rep. Barney Frank, and Rep. James Langevin, joined by Rep. Stephen Lynch, expressing their concern by opposing the measure.
“We write to tell you as strongly as we can that we believe it would be a grave error to close the American Consulate in the City of Ponta Delgada, on the Island of São Miguel in the Azores,” the letter said.
In his statement to the journalists Tuesday, Rafael Pérez stressed the “excellent relations” of the United States with the Region and of the interest of the Unites States in maintaining its presence at Lajes, Terceira. “The US Air Force is committed to maintaining operations at Lajes and continue their important cooperation with the Azores,” he said.
The American Consulate in the Azores is the oldest continuously operating U.S. Consulate in the world . President George Washington appointed the first official U.S. Consul, John Street, in 1795, when Thomas Jefferson was Secretary of State.