UNCLAS LISBON 000222
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM SOCI PO
SUBJECT: CONG. HASTINGS MEETS WITH PORTUGUESE ROMA LEADER
REF: STATE 30437
Â¶1. (SBU) US Congressman Alcee Hastings (D-FL), in Portugal
for OSCE Parliamentary events hosted by the Portuguese
parliament, met with Portuguese Roma leader Antonio Nunes on
April 19. Post arranged this discussion to continue our
engagement with Roma community, particularly in the period
around International Roma Day.
Â¶2. (SBU) Mr. Nunes serves as the Roma liaison to the
Portuguese government and is in daily contact with Roma
communities throughout Portugal. He explained that there are
an estimated 40 to 50,000 Roma in Portugal both in rural
areas and in the large cities of Lisbon, Porto, and Coimbra.
The primary challenges they face are those common to all
citizens: housing, education, and work. A few years ago the
Portuguese government approved a National Action Plan for the
Roma, but Mr. Nunes was dismissive of concrete progress made
via the Plan. He is not aware of any Roma police or national
level politicians, but noted that there are a handful of Roma
officials at the municipal level. Nunes observed that
Portugal's Roma are better integrated than are Roma in
eastern Europe and elsewhere, dressing like and speaking
Portuguese, and he concludes that this results in their
suffering less discrimination than is the case elsewhere. He
shared stories of Roma struggles for jobs and education, and
their sometimes uneasy interactions with Portugal's growing
African immigrant community.
Â¶3. (SBU) Cong. Hastings offered readouts of discussions he
had in Brussels recently as well as observations of visits to
Roma communities in Romania, Hungary, Poland, and elsewhere,
noting for example the unhappy plight of Roma in Kosovo. He
also reviewed the situation of Roma in the United States.
This discussion was useful for both sides, and Mr. Nunes
frankly observed that Portugal's Roma are somewhat isolated
from events elsewhere in Europe, so he appreciated hearing
Cong. Hastings' perspectives.
For more reporting from Embassy Lisbon and information about Portugal,
please see our Intelink site: