Mayor of Funchal’s Speech on the 20th Anniversary of the Sister City Agreement with Fremantle

Today I had the great pleasure of meeting with Funchal Mayor Paulo Cafôfo to mark 20 years of the sister city agreement with Fremantle.

The Australian Ambassador to Portugal, Peter Raynor, and the WA Portuguese Consul, John da Silva, also attended along with lots of media and official observers from Funchal. I will write more about this important relationship later but I thought it worth starting the the speech that Mayor Paulo gave today:

Dear friends from the other side of the world,

It is with great honor that I am here today to celebrate 20 years of the twinning agreement between our two cities.

The fraternity bonds that unite us go back more than half a century and it is moving to think that the first citizen of Funchal to reach Fremantle did so even before many of us were born.

The History of the twinning agreement between Funchal and Fremantle is, before anything else, a story of brotherhood that has been written for decades and thousands of different hands.

It is an agreement of friendship and goodwill written with the courage and sacrifice of our ancestors, who dared to cross the globe in search of the opportunity for a better life, and they did so without rest.

Funchalenses who fought with everything they had to rise to this challenge and have become a massive gain for the great country of Australia and the Australian society that became so admirably multicultural. If they hadn’t played their part with distinction, we certainly wouldn’t be gathered here today to remember this union.

But if Funchalenses in Australia survived and won, the merit belongs also to you. To the Australians who welcomed them, who reached with both hands and gave them a chance. The Australians who become their friends and family, and all those who, in any given opportunity, treated our people as equals. Long before the actual agreement, that is what we ought to celebrate here today: the decades-long communion between two people a world apart. I’d like to ask for a round of applause to all those who lived this story.

This twinning agreement that we celebrate today, the 20th anniversary, has come true with the efforts of many people, funchalenses and Australians, elected officials and migrants, who envisioned it and made it a reality, so that new generations won’t forget the past that binds us.

It is with great honor that I stand here today, fulfilling my role in our beautiful history, but I would be remiss if I didn’t remember the names that made this venture possible, at the early 90s.

The seven Madeiran and Portuguese descendants who were part of the Instalment Commission of this Twinning Agreement were: José Correia, António Correia, José Madeira, Félix Correia, Orlando Andrade, Fátima Correia e Maria de Farate.

Wherever they are, they are the reason we are here today. They were proof that friendship and brotherhood know neither a time nor a place. Friendship and brotherhood are forever. I would like to dedicate this ceremony especially to those who are no longer with us.

The twinning agreement signed in 1996 considered as one of its main pieces, the mutual interest to both cities to promote greater social, cultural and sports exchanges, and to cooperate in commercial, industrial and tourist ranges, not to mention, of course, the obvious sentimental reasons.

Our agreement continued to thrive, with several chapters and various episodes, and mutual visits to our cities. What I’d like to reaffirm here today is the commitment. Not for the future, but for today.

We have an ancient relationship with Fremantle, but perhaps most of us funchalenses no longer know we do. I honestly believe that more can be done. I believe we owe to ourselves to rekindle that flame, to be entrepreneurs, to revive the projects and the will, to recover exchanges and to find negotiation and partnership platforms.

In today’s globalized world, difference is the golden key. And an emotional difference, based on a history of common cultural sharing, is an opportunity that none of us should miss.

If it depends on me, we will strengthen the social and cultural exchanges between the people of Funchal and the people of Fremantle; but I have no doubt that there is also a large margin to explore in what commercial and tourist cooperation can both be.

Much like Funchal, Fremantle is a coastal city, with a temperate climate. It is a city of immigrants, as we continue to be a city of emigration. We are similar and yet complementary.

In these days you’ll spend here, I want to hear your vision, to see your strategy and anticipate where we can best cooperate with each other, precisely because the areas of Economy and Trade, Heritage and Tourism, are ones that my Council has worked the hardest.

Nowadays, Funchal is a friendly investment city, which created a Revitalization Program Trade and unparalleled services, and bet on Urban Rehabilitation, defining it as the great challenge of the next decade.

In Tourism, we contributed to greater recognition of the city and the region outside with the Municipal Tourism Strategy, with an action program until 2017. We are creating opportunities and all allies are welcome. Former allies of older fights even more.

Opportunities abound and we are here to take them, as is proof. One member of this delegation here today with us, is Mr. John da Silva, born and raised in Funchal, who arrived in Fremantle on his 13th birthday, in 1969. He worked on a crayfishing boat as a deck hand at a young age, then created the Bell-Vista group of companies that became leaders in the fresh produce and ship supply industries. John was awarded the prestigious Western Australian Citizen of the Year Award for Industry & Commerce in 2000. I could not give you a better example of what our relationship can represent and how far we can get. Together.

As Mayor of Funchal, I now bid you farewell but not before asking you one last thing: let that the celebration of these 20 years be the motto to fulfill the full potential of this union, so that, in 20 years’ time, our successors stand here in this very spot to remember that today we began to build a new era, one that makes rest of the common history of our two people proud.

To this delegation, led by Mayor Brad Pettitt, allow me to express my deepest respect and fondness for you all being here today. Thank you for coming and welcome to your second home!

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