Vasco Alves Cordeiro, president of the Government of the Azores, will visit Fresno State to present his vision for the future of the Azores and its relationship with communities around the world, including the Central Valley.
Cordeiro’s talk, at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 13, at Fresno State’s North Gym (Room 118), will serve as the inaugural lecture for the new Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute at the University. The event is free and the community is invited to attend. Parking is $4 in lots P20 and P27.
Cordeiro will discuss the historical background of the Azores island group and its role in the 21st century as a platform between Europe and the United States.
“The presence of President Cordeiro for the inaugural lecture and the launching of the Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute at Fresno State is indicative of the important role the Portuguese-American community plays in the relationship between the Azorean archipelago and California,” said Diniz Borges, director of the institute. “It also shows how the Azores is committed to maintaining the cultural bond between the islands and their communities and signifies how the Portuguese have contributed to the Valley.”
Cordeiro is visiting at the invitation of Dr. Joseph I. Castro, president of Fresno State. Cordeiro will be part of a 12-member delegation that includes Rui Bettencourt, deputy regional secretary of the presidency for external relations; José San-Bento, member of Parliament; and Jorge Jorge, member of Parliament.
Cordeiro came from a family of farmers and spent his childhood and adolescence in the rural village of Covoada in Ponta Delgada. He studied law at the University of Coimbra on mainland Portugal before returning to the Azores to complete his regional law training. In 1996, Cordeiro was elected to the Legislative Assembly of Autonomous Region of the Azores. As a member of Parliament, he served on several committees and commissions. Between 2003 and 2012, he served as regional secretary for Agriculture and Fisheries, secretary of the Presidency and regional secretary for the Economy. Cordeiro has been president of the Government of the Azores since 2012.
The San Joaquin Valley is home to the largest Portuguese-American community in California, the greatest majority with roots in the islands of the Azores and whose history and contributions are an integral part of the region and state. The Autonomous Region of the Azores is made up of nine volcanic islands about 1,000 miles west of Portugal in the North Atlantic. While the region maintains a national connection to Portugal, the government operates independently under a few constitutional requirements.
The Portuguese Beyond Borders Institute is a collective effort between the College of Arts and Humanities, Jordan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology and College of Social Sciences at Fresno State. Through a lecture series and an oral history project, the institute will function as a hub of cultural, literary, pedagogical and research resources for the Portuguese-American experience and to promote the connections with the Portuguese-speaking world, focusing on the archipelago of the Azores, with a strong emphasis on the Azorean Diaspora in California. It aims to be Central California’s nucleus for cultural events, teacher conferences, colloquia, literary resources, publications, academic research, artistic exhibitions and performing arts productions, not only for the matriculated students at Fresno State, but also for the enrichment of the Portuguese-American community and society at large.
The institute’s lecture series is sponsored by the Luso-American Development Foundation.