Visit to Portugal inspires Mineola leader

Casey Ek

Gabriel Marques, a Mineola native and champion of the Portuguese-American community in New York, joined fellow New Yorker Isabelle Marques in Portugal for the IV International Course in Portuguese Diaspora Leadership in April.

The summit, organized by the Portuguese Diaspora Council, brought leaders of Portuguese communities from four continents together with members of the Portuguese government, including Prime Minister António Costa. Marques whose parents were born in Portugal says he understands the necessity for Portuguese Americans to stay united.

“To be a good Portuguese, you have to be a good American,” Gabriel Marques said. “I’m proud to be that link and proud to be in the position that I am in.” 

Created in 2012 by the Portuguese government, the Portuguese Diaspora Council today aims to create ties to countries with high populations of diasporic Portuguese citizens, those with Portuguese lineage living outside the country, according to the Portuguese-American Journal.

Marques, the founder and former president of New York Portuguese American Leadership Conference, said the summit in Portugal which took place from April 26-28, established a direct connection from New York to Portugal. His days in Portugal entailed bumping shoulders with high ranking members of Portuguese parliament. This, he says, put the New York Portuguese community on the map. 

Marques recalls hearing presentations in which members of the Portuguese government celebrated the success of the Portuguese in New York.

“We all had a chance to tell the members of the Portuguese government about our communities,” Marques said. “Out of the 80 delegates there, I was one of the only ones who was there simply to promote his community and have fun.”

Marques, who remains the president emeritus of NYPALC, said he remains charged over the continuing success of the Portuguese-American community since the success of last year’s Portugal Day Parade, which drew over 10,000 guests. 

This year the parade will take place on Sunday June 12 and will include nearly 40 organizations and is expanding to include New York City and Westchester, according to Marques.

“We think it’s going to be even bigger this year,” Marques said.

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Casey Ek

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