Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Portuguese consulates to close?

The Portuguese government has announced that it intends to close their consulates in Southeastern New England - a move that has generated a surprising amount of controversy. The consulates, located in Providence, Rhode Island and New Bedford, Massachusetts serve an unknown number of Portuguese citizens in New England, plus an even greater number of Luso-Americans. How many? I can't speak for Massachusetts (although I'm guessing it's enormous), but there are over 100,000 in Rhode Island alone. Quite a large number for a state with a population of only 1.2 million.

Since I'm not Portuguese, I don't really care all that much about this tempest in a teapot, but our congressmen are tripping all over themselves to lobby the Portuguese government to keep the consulates open. Rhode Island Congressman Patrick "Patches" Kennedy has joined Senators Jack "The Invisible Man" Reed and newly elected Senator Sheldon Whitehouse in lobbying the Prime Minister of Portugal to keep their Providence consulate open. Providence mayor David Cicilline has joined the efforts to lobby the Portuguese government as well.

For their part, the Portuguese estimate that closing the two consulates will save their cash strapped government nearly $4 million dollars. A proposal by American politicians to open a replacement consulate in Fall River, Massachusetts (located halfway between Providence and New Bedford) will likely fall on deaf ears as well.

UPDATE: Lest I forget, Dictators of the World has been updated with the latest dirt on Fidel Castro.

1 comment:

Lefty said...

I like you don't have much of a personal interest in this. However, my understanding is that the New Bedford Consulate will remain open.

I'm not sure why New Bedford would stay open and not Providence, but I would agree that a Fall River Consulate makes sense.