GUSTINE, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) –Gustine received the presidential treatment on Sunday. The small Merced County town celebrated its Portuguese roots with none other than Portugal’s president himself, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

“With so many Portuguese working here, I had to come,” the foreign leader said. After his arrival around 4:30 p.m., de Sousa delivered a speech at the Gustine Pentecost Society about Portuguese pride and resilience. Later, Mayor Patrick Nagy presented him with a key to the city.

“It is a place where Portuguese people have been for 150 years –a lifetime, several generations,” he said. 

The president is heading to Stanford University on Monday for a panel discussion titled, “Sustainable Solutions for Portugal and California”. 

“Sustainability is the world for the future,” said de Sousa. “We’re very good at it in Portugal. We have 60% of our energy sources coming from renewable. And in 2030, around 80%.”

De Sousa points out this is what makes California and Portugal very much alike. The Golden State has a goal to be 60% reliant on renewable energy by 2030. By 2045, California aims to be 100% carbon-free.
California is home to about 350,000 Portuguese Americans, many of them tracing their roots back to the Azores.

“Which means it is the leading state, speaking of Portuguese communities,” he said, adding that nationwide, about 2 million immigrants came from European countries. Many of Gustine’s 6,000 residents share this heritage. 

“Gustine’s Portuguese heritage is something that is so deep-rooted and will forever be here,” said Eddie Gonzalez with Gustine PD. “Even our officers are wearing Portuguese flags on our patches today.”

“Gustine was built on the dairy industry and agriculture,” shared Manuel Siqueiros, Gustine Pentecost Society president. “I mean, it’s evident that it’s all over here.”

De Sousa was first elected as the 20th president of Portugal in 2016. He was reelected last year with more than 60 percent of the popular vote.

He is the second sitting president to visit this town, after JFK. “I myself on behalf of the Portuguese people as a whole, I owe gratitude to these people for fighting and fighting. A very strong community,” the president said.