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May 23, 2022

Portuguese television correspondent visits Watsonville

Interviews local leaders for series about Portuguese in California

WATSONVILLE—On Tuesday morning, author, documentary filmmaker and Portuguese National Television correspondent Nelson Ponta-Garça was busy setting up a video camera in the Watsonville City Council Chambers. 

He was there to interview Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra for a special segment about Portuguese communities in California. The segment will be part of a monthly program from Portuguese National TV focusing on Portuguese people living around the world. Nelson Ponta-Garça

Ponta-Garça lives half the time in the U.S., and the other half back in Portugal. He lived for about 20 years in San Jose, where he met Watsonville resident John Bettencourt at various Portuguese festivals. They kept in touch through Facebook, and eventually Ponta-Garça approached him about the TV program.

“He told me he was interested in coming to Watsonville, and then I reached out to Jimmy to set it up,” Bettencourt explained. “Watsonville has a lot of Portuguese history, right here in the heart of the city.”

Ponta-Garça is the author of “Portuguese in California: The History of Generations” and the filmmaker behind various documentaries about Portuguese in California, Hawaii, New England and more. When visiting a region, he looks for people to interview who have made big waves in their communities, plus the mayors of each city. 

It just so happened that Dutra is also of Portuguese descent. As he was interviewed, Dutra spoke about what he called the “tight-knit” Portuguese community in Watsonville.

“It’s so great to see… the traditions still being lived here today,” he told Ponta-Garça. “We have the festas, and the queens, and the masses, and the blessings of the animals… Even though we’re not in Portugal, those traditions are still alive.”

Dutra previewed the upcoming crowning of Chiara Rojas, who will become Watsonville’s new Portuguese Queen on May 31, and spoke at length with Ponta-Garça, Bettencourt and fellow resident Leo Teixeira about the possibility of Watsonville gaining a new sister city in Portugal.

In addition to Dutra, on Tuesday Ponta-Garça also interviewed local farmer and owner of Lakeside Organic Gardens Dick Peixoto, and Aldina Maciel of Aldina Real Estate, Inc. The interviews will not only be used for the TV segment, but also for the second edition of Ponta-Garça’s book.

“The second edition of the book will finally include the presence of Watsonville,” Ponta-Garça said. “We wanted to give more visibility in Portugal about the great community we have right here.”

For information and updates about the TV segment, as well as Ponta-Garça’s books and documentaries go to or follow him on Facebook.

Johanna Miller
Reporter Johanna Miller grew up in Watsonville, attending local public schools and Cabrillo College before transferring to Pacific University Oregon to study Literature. She covers arts and culture, business and agriculture.


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