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November 29, 2022

Watsonville cements sister city status with Portuguese city

WATSONVILLE—The City of Watsonville solidified its Sister City affiliation with Velas, a historic port town on the western coast of São Jorge Island in Portugal, at its Tuesday night City Council meeting.

Watsonville Mayor Ari Parker and Vasco Cordeiro, the President of the European Committee of the Region and the President of the Azores islands from 2012-2020, signed an agreement inside a packed city council chamber to officially recognize the connection between the coastal communities.

Roughly a year in the making, the sister designation serves as a way for Watsonville to recognize its rich Portuguese heritage, Parker said. 

“We are thrilled to establish a sister city with the Azores where so many of our people in Watsonville and families in Watsonville have a connection,” she said.

The Velas delegation toured the city throughout the day Tuesday, making stops at Watsonville Public Library and Watsonville Municipal Airport, as well as local businesses Annieglass and S. Martinelli & Co.

Through an interpreter, Cordeiro gave thanks to the city and to the members of a sister city committee spearheaded by Watsonville City Council member Jimmy Dutra—who is of Portuguese descent—that was key to recognizing the union. 

“Watsonville is the sixth of our sister cities and we hope to see you all [in Velas],” he said. “I hope you’ll all enjoy your stay there. It’s wonderful.”

Situated along the western coast of São Jorge Island in Portugal, Velas has a population of just over 5,300 people. Located in the Azores, an autonomous region of Portugal far way to the west of the mainland, the city is one of the oldest settlements on the island, boasting incredible ocean views from high, verdant cliffs. Both Watsonville and Velas have deep roots in organic agriculture and are passionate about sports, especially soccer.

Portugal’s Consul General, Pedro Pinto, drove down from San Francisco to be in attendance for Tuesday’s signing. He said he saw another throughline between the people of Watsonville and Velas: Their determination and hard work.

“They’re very hard-working people, very humble people,” Pinto said of the Portuguese immigrants who laid down roots in Watsonville. “They did not just cross the Atlantic but they crossed the entire American continent to make the best for themselves and their families here. It’s incredible what they’ve achieved.”

Velas is Watsonville’s seventh sister city. It also has made sister city pacts with Cavtat, Konavle, Croatia; Jocotepec, Jalisco, Mexico; Tangancícuaro, Michoacán, México; San Pedro Masahuat, Department of La Paz, El Salvador; Pinghu, Zhejiang Province, China; and Kawakami-Mura, Japan. 

Tony Nuñez
Good Times News Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor of The Pajaronian for five years and three years as Managing Editor. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.



  1. The Portuguese community helped build Watsonville. it is appropriate we have a sister city program with them. I hope it will be successful.


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