The Italian Embassy in Brasilia has hosted the first “day” dedicated to our honorary consuls, the aim being to highlight a figure who has two key roles. One is to provide increasing support for our consular offices in providing services to citizens living in Brazil. And the other is to act as an economic “antenna” for the internationalisation of our businesses.
The initiative involved the Embassy itself plus the four Consulates General, the two Consulates and the over 40 honorary consuls operating throughout Brazil. It provided an opportunity to discuss and showcase the role of the honorary consuls in supporting the consulates in organising and delivering services for the Italian community living throughout Brazil’s vast territory. A community that counts 350 Italian citizens, about 600,000 awaiting citizenship and 30 million people of Italian origin. The honorary consuls are also active members of “System Italy” in promoting Italian economic and cultural interests.
A pilot project for the Brazilian infrastructure plan for the 2014 Football World Cup was launched. This will draw on the active collaboration of the honorary consuls as economic “antennae” supporting the internationalisation of Italian businesses. This in a context where bilateral trade amounted to nearly 12 billion dollars in 2011, an increase of 30% on the previous year.
The Embassy event also included a workshop on the most recent legislative and technological innovations issuing from the Foreign Ministry in Rome. The importance of the honorary consul network in providing rapid help for Italian nationals in emergencies was also underscored. The Italian presence in Brazil also includes a large number of tourists, in a country whose sheer size requires a widespread network on the ground: further evidence of the need for close liaison with the Ministry in Rome and its Crisis Unit.
The need to encourage the honorary consular network to play a higher-profile role in disseminating the Italian language and culture was also discussed. Not least against the background of the “Momento Italia – Brasile” initiative, which will see around 500 events throughout Brazil, up to June 2012. In his speech, Ambassador Gherardo La Francesca thanked all the honorary consuls for their important commitment in the service of Italy and of our fellow nationals in Brazil.
Also taking part in the event were the General Council of Italians Abroad (CGIE) Counsellors, the Committees of Italians Living Abroad (COMITES) chairpersons, and the Hon. Fabio Porta, the only Italian Member of Parliament living in Brazil.