“Bem-vindo à Turlock, Sr. Páscoa.”
So Turlockers greeted Carlos Páscoa, a member of the Portuguese parliament, as he visited the city on Monday.
Páscoa, a member of the center-right Social Democratic Party, or Partido Social Democrata in Portuguese, is one of four members of Portugal’s parliament to represent Portuguese citizens living abroad.
Páscoa, who has visited more than 100 Portuguese communities abroad since taking office in 2005, said his journey to Turlock was just part of his work to represent Portuguese citizens living across the globe.
“And to see what kind of help the government can give them,” Páscoa said.
Of the 230 members of the unicameral Assembly of the Republic — a Assembleia da República — 226 are directly elected by the residents of Portugal. But, unlike in the American system, four legislators are elected by — and tasked with representing — the many Portuguese citizens who live abroad.
Two legislators are focused on the needs of Portuguese citizens living in other European countries, while Páscoa and one other representative are dedicated to Portuguese citizens living in the other six continents.
This week represented Páscoa’s first trip to California, a whirlwind week spent visiting cities like San Francisco, San Jose, Lake Tahoe, San Diego and Tulare. He spent only a day or two in each community before flying back to Lisbon, Portugal, but said it was enough time to understand the complexities of each individual Portuguese community.
“My real purpose is to understand how the community lives, how they are organized,” Páscoa said. “Each one is different from one another.”
As for Turlock, Páscoa said he’d quickly learned that local Portuguese citizens were often very involved in agriculture and agribusiness. He was also pleasantly surprised to learn how successful most Portuguese emigrants were in Turlock.
Páscoa spent his day in Turlock enjoying lunch with local Portuguese leaders, visiting Winton, Ireland, Strom, and Green, and touring a local dairy. Páscoa also paid a visit to Our Lady of the Assumption, a Turlock Catholic church that caters to the Portuguese community.
There school-age students practiced cultural folk dances and drilled the Portuguese language, preparing for a Pentecost Sunday open house. Páscoa smiled as he walked among the students, pretending to be unable to speak English to test their conversational Portuguese.
“I don’t speak English,” Páscoa said with a sly smile to any child who tried to strike up a conversation.
The tricky tactic is all just a part of the job for Páscoa, who said spreading the Portuguese language is among the most important things he does.
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