Argentina’s Portuguese community asks Minister of the Presidency for urgent consular reinforcement

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The Portuguese community in Argentina has asked the Minister of the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, on a visit to Buenos Aires, to make the government aware of the urgent need for consular reinforcement at the Portuguese embassy.

“We asked them to reinforce the embassy with more staff, two or three people, because what we have is temporary, but we need it to be permanent to meet the high demand for services,” Maria Violante Mendes Martins, advisor for Portuguese communities in Argentina, told Lusa.

“The minister told us she would expose the situation and try to bring at least two permanent people to Portugal. For now, she recognized that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ platform was obsolete, that it didn’t work well, and she told us that they would try to improve the programming platform,” said the advisor, who handed over a letter containing recommendations from the Portuguese ambassador to Argentina, José Ludovice.

Mariana Vieira da Silva today concludes a three-day visit to Buenos Aires as part of Portugal Day celebrations.

At present, the consular section of the Portuguese Embassy in Argentina has three permanent employees and a fourth apprentice.

Last week, in response to repeated community complaints and protests by Portuguese and Lusodescendants, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent two reinforcements, one for one month and the other for two months.

The reinforcement is limited to the citizen card and passport renewal service, leaving aside applications for nationality or marriage registration. However, the presence of this reinforcement has temporarily alleviated the situation of lack of service for hundreds of people who had been waiting for this service for over three years.

In an interview with Lusa, the Minister of the Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, immediately after her meeting with the advisor for communities at the Portuguese Club in Buenos Aires, acknowledged the need to improve the online booking platform and highlighted the implementation of the virtual consulate as a means of meeting demand.

“What I’m going to do is convey this message to the Portuguese government,” he said.

“We must act in several dimensions, strengthening the technological capacity of the platforms to respond to a greater number of people simultaneously. The opening of the virtual consulate also increases the potential for absorbing part of the demand for assistance. We need to catch up on the delays accumulated during the pandemic period to understand what the needs are”, explained the Minister.

Also at the Portuguese Club, a group of demonstrators peacefully protesting against staff shortages also handed the Minister a letter asking for more staff.

“The minister told us that she was aware of what was happening here and that they were trying to improve the situation. We asked for more staff, following the advice of the ambassador. I hope it’s not just words, that they’ve listened to us and are really looking for a solution,” Gabriel de Sousa, one of the coordinators of the three protests held outside the embassy over the past month.

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