José de Almeida, 79, the leader of the Frente de Libertação dos Açores/FLA (Azorean Liberation Front), the movement for the independence of the Azores, died on Monday, December 1, in Ponta Delgada.
Launched in 1975, after the Carnation Revolution, the independence movement had a profound impact on the Azores and mainland Portugal during the period when the country feared a Communist takeover.
The movement gathered strong support among the Azorean immigrant community in the United States and had the backing of the CIA and the US State Department over concerns to protect US interests in the Lajes Airfield on Terceira island.
Since 1976, after democracy was consolidated in mainland Portugal and a new Portuguese constitution delegated self-rule to the Azores, FLA’s activism has declined. Currently, as defined by the Constitution of Portugal, the Azores is granted its own political and administrative status.
According to the Azores sovereignty law, approved unanimously (2008) by the Assembly of the Republic, the regional administration comprises of an Executive Branch (Governo Regional) and a Legislative Parliament (Assembleia Legislativa) elected by universal suffrage.
The sovereignty of the Portuguese Republic is represented in the region by a Representative of the Republic (Representante da República) who is exclusively appointed by the President of Portugal. The President of the Regional Executive (Presidente do Governo Regional) is appointed by the Representative of the Republic in the Autonomous Region according to the results of the elections.
The Azores (population 250,000) is a region of Portugal composed of nine islands. The archipelago discovered by Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, became an Autonomous Region of Portugal in 1976. The government of the Autonomous Region of the Azores includes the Legislative Assembly, composed of 57 elected deputies, elected by universal suffrage for a four-year term; the Regional Government and Presidency, with parliamentary legitimacy, composed of a President, a Vice-President and seven Regional Secretaries responsible for the Regional Government executive operations. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is represented in the Council of Ministers of the Central Government by a representative appointed by the President of Portugal. Vasco Cordeiro, 41, the leader of the Socialist Party (PS) in the Azores, was sworn Regional President of the Government of the Azores on October 14, 2012.