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City to strengthen ties with Praia

Cape Verdean Police Officers Association

Jule Pattison-Gordon
City to strengthen ties with Praia
Mayor Martin Walsh and Praia mayor Ulisses Correia e Silva signed a sister city agreement at City Hall in which they pledged to further economic, social, cultural and faith-based relationships between the cities.

Boston has a new municipal relative.

Last Friday, Mayor Martin Walsh signed a sister city agreement with Ulisses Correia e Silva, mayor of Praia, Cabo Verde’s capital. The agreement formalizes current trade and collaboration between the cities and, Walsh said, starts the conversation around expanding commercial ties.

“We will grow companies in both cities, create more jobs, strengthen business ties and enhance partnerships between schools and police departments,” said Walsh. “Working together will enhance the economics of both cities and help pave the way to a brighter future.”

“Today we sign a sister city agreement to build on and strengthen the existing economic, cultural and educational relationships between the cities of Boston and Praia, while committing to explore new ties and creative ways of improving the quality of life for residents on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Correia e Silva.

Cape Verdeans have a significant presence in Boston: they have been immigrating since the 1800s and now number approximately 40,000 in Boston, according to the city’s estimates.

This is Boston’s first sisterhood with an African city.

Growing commerce

The mayors look to bolster existing trade to bring more jobs and business to both cities.

Author: City of Boston photoChief of Economic Development John Barros, Mayor Martin Walsh, Praia Mayor Ulisses Correia e Silva and Cabo Verde Consul General Pedro Graciano Gomes De Carvalho gathered at the signing.

Already, trade between the cities is routine. Vargas Dasilveira, president of the Cape Verdean Business Association, said that a cargo ship runs between Praia and Boston at least once a month.

John Barros, chief of Economic Development, pointed to two examples of existing exchange: Starbucks now buys beans from the Cabo Verde and Boston contractors are building housing in the island nation to meet high demand.

“We’ve already initiated many things,” said Dasilveira. “Many businesses here are involved with other Cape Verdean businesses. This partnership opens the door to be able to do more.”

The mayor’s press office said the partnership particularly aims to increase the number of small and mid-sized enterprises between the cities as well as increase imports and exports. Promoting tourism also is in the plans.

One possibility for encouraging tourism, Walsh said, is to increase connecting flights between the cities. Cabo Verde Airlines once ran out of Logan, but moved to Providence this year, reports Business Wire.

Policing and security

The partnership also is a way to fight ills in both cities. Correia e Silva and Walsh collaborated in the past on public safety discussions, and Correia e Silva said he looks forward to continuing this work.

The mayor’s office reports that Boston and Cabo Verde have struggled with some of the same criminals. Over the past two decades, many Cape Verdeans without U.S. citizenship were deported for committing serious — level one and two — crimes and continued criminal activity upon return to the islands, the office said.

In 2014, the two mayors made plans to discuss ways to reduce and prevent crime and youth violence in Praia and Boston. Two years ago, two Boston officers of Cape Verdean descent attended an urban security forum in Praia, said Correia e Silva.

Cape Verdean presence in the Boston force has been growing in the past decades, and the Cape Verdean Police Officer Association completes its first year this month. Walsh praised the officers for their community involvement and work with youth.

Correia e Silva said he hopes for continued sharing of urban security expertise. Also on his schedule: co-hosting a forum on crime at the BPD station in Dudley Square the next day.

University partnerships

Several universities already have relationships with Cabo Verde.

This April, Berklee College of Music launched a “Berklee in Cape Verde” program to provide scholarship and performance opportunities for members of the island nation.

April also saw the signing of an agreement between Bridgewater State University’s President and Cabo Verde’s Minister of Culture. The parties will work together to promote greater awareness of Cape Verdean history and culture.

Looking forward

The cities’ partnership plans are in the early stages, said the mayor. Groups such as the Cape Verdean Association of Boston, Cape Verdean Police Officers Association, Bridgewater State University and Berklee College of Music have participated in the planning, Barros said.

Next up: two senators and two representatives will travel to Praia and other Cabo Verde sites this November, said Barros.