Letter to President George W. Bush

November 26, 2007
Dear President Bush:
The Association of Portuguese Language Teachers of the United States and Canada hereby expresses its deepest regrets regarding your affirmation on November 13, 2007 in New Albany, Indiana, referring to the teaching of “Portuguese as a second Language” as a “wasteful project.”
As you know the Portuguese language is the seventh most spoken idiom on earth. It is the third most spoken European language. Portuguese, Mr. President, is spoken by more than 220 million people and it is present on every single continent. Here in the United States more than 1 million people are of Portuguese ancestry, many of whom still speak the language of their forefathers. We also have large communities from Brazil and Cape Verde, both of these Portuguese speaking countries.
Thus, considering the ties that the United States has maintained with Portugal; considering that the Portuguese language is a universal language; considering that several of your own government agencies have considered Portuguese as a strategic and important language; considering that Portuguese has been identified as one of the “commonly less-taught languages” to be promoted at the secondary and university levels; considering that Portuguese-Americans have been a productive part of our unique cultural American mosaic; considering that we have Portuguese-Americans in all facets of our society, including three members of the United States Congress, we hereby request that you reconsider and retract your statement referring to the teaching of the Portuguese language as a foreign language in the United States as a “wasteful project.”
Mr. President, the Portuguese-American Communities and the Portuguese language, a universal language, did not deserve such a deliberate affront.

Diniz Borges

Association of Portuguese Language Teachers in the United States and Canada

CC: The Honorable João de Vallera, Ambassador of Portugal to the United States
CC: All members of the Portuguese-American Caucus in the United States House of Representatives
CC: All members of the Friends of Portugal in the United States Senate