By THÉRÈSE MARGOLIS
Touting common values of democracy, respect for social justice and human rights, and free-market trade practices, Portuguese Ambassador to Mexico Jorge Roza de Oliveira used his national day reception on Monday, June 11, to underscore the positive nature of bilateral relations between his country and Mexico.
“In July 2017, with the state visit of Portuguese Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa to Mexico, we opened a new chapter in our binational ties,” Roza de Oliveira told his guests at the start of the event.
The ambassador said that his president’s visit paved the way for even closer bilateral cooperation between two countries that have maintained warm diplomatic relations since 1864.
Currently, Portugal is Mexico’s ninth-largest trade partner within the European Union, and Mexico is Portugal’s second-largest trade partner in Latin America, just after Brazil.
In addition to a 13 percent surge in combined two-way trade last year to a total of $773 million, Roza de Oliveira noted that investment has also increased on both sides of the Atlantic.
Between 2000 and 2011, Mexican companies invested over $5 million in Portugal, and during that same period, Portuguese companies invested over $60 million in Mexico.
The envoy said that there are now more than 100 Portuguese companies with capital holdings in Mexico.
Roza de Oliveira also noted that Portugal will be the guest country of honor at the Guadalajara International Book Fair in November, which he said would no doubt serve as a catalyst for broader cooperation in the literary, artistic, musical and economic fields.
He likewise said that the Universidad Latina de América (UNLA) in Morelia will soon be signing a reciprocal protocol with the Portugal’s Instituto Camões.
In the multilateral arena, Roza de Oliveira said that Portugal and Mexico have worked together to present a Universal Letter of Human Rights and Obligations to the United Nations secretary general, a document inspired by a speech by Portuguese writer and 1998 Nobel Laureate José Saramago.
Roza de Oliveira said that Portugal wants to build an even more extensive relationship with Mexico in the years ahead, a relationship that he said will be mutually beneficial.
“Mexico and Portugal are both nations that know how to face the challenges of our times,” he said.
“The vast energy of our people to build their own history is a central element that reaffirms our common destiny as free nations committed to constructing more just societies. We are two countries that understand what it means to be friends.”
Portugal’s national day, Día de Camões, extols the grandeur of its early exploration of the New World as recounted by the poet Luís Vaz de Camões.
Día de Camões commemorates the date of death on June 10, 1580.
In his epic masterpiece “Os Lusíadas” (“The Lusiads”), the 16th-century poet tells the adventures of Portugal’s early seafaring accomplishments.
The work helped to establish the Portuguese language within the international literary world.
Considered to be one of the finest and most important works in Portuguese literature, “Os Lusíadas” eventually became a symbol for the greatness of the Portuguese nation.
Nevertheless, that same year, Portugal lost its independence to Spain and was then ruled by three generations of Spanish kings.
Sixty years later, the country regained its independence.
Since then, because Camões’ date of birth is unknown, the date of his death is celebrated as Portugal’s national day.