Former US ambassador launches book about experiences in Portugal

 In Events

The former US ambassador to Portugal during the Barrack Obama years, Robert Sherman, launched his first book “Ten Million and One” at Lisbon’s Old Art Museum (Museu de Arte Antiga) on Monday in the presence of the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

The book “Dez Milhões e Um” is his personal view on the Portuguese in which he likens Barack Obama and Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa in Chapter Six entitled: “Two Presidents” where he says “Barack Obama was “one of those presidents that comes but once in a generation” and who, like Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, has “sincere convictions and the ability to communicate, says “Us” instead of “I” and is prepared to take risks instead of playing safe” notes Robert Sherman who served as US ambassador to Portugal between 2014 and 2017.

“Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa understood instinctively that the Portuguese had lived through a financial crisis that demanded a large sacrifice and required of its political leaders to ensure that their efforts had not been in vain, showing them that the future was in fact a lot more cheerful” he said.

Nuno Rogeiro, political analyst, commentator and foreign correspondent who wrote the foreword to the book said, “Thanks for writing the book which will help to make Portugal and the Portuguese great again! Thanks also for separating party politics from State politics” and “you were a great ambassador promoting Portugal and its interests in the United States and those of the United States in Portugal. Politicians come and go, but national interests and nations continue and there is more than party politics.”

Robert Sherman said the many friends he had made in Portugal taught him “so much about what it meant to be an ambassador and to represent a country and most importantly what it means to be Portuguese”.

“When I first came here as ambassador and Nuno Rogeiro interviewed me, I later realised he wasn’t just interviewing me, he was schooling me on what it means to be an ambassador and that I would be smarter at doing what my job was from the questions he was asking me” said Robert Sherman.

“That I consider Barack Obama a leader with unique talents, I never expected to find another politician with similar characteristics, but I found one here in Portugal” Sherman said of Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.

Mention was made of his enthusiastic videos supporting the Portuguese national squad during the Euro 2016 Championships in which he appeared shrouded in the Portuguese flag, the fact that he grew up in Brockton, Massachusetts in a neighbourhood with many Portuguese, and himself admits that the book is a “love story”.

In the book he says that President Obama asked him which, of all the countries in the world, he would like to serve as US ambassador. “I didn’t hesitate: Portugal!” he said.

The former ambassador admitted that negotiations over the future of the US military air base at Lajes on the island of Terceira in the Azores had “not been easy” because of the bullish style of the President of the Regional Government, Vasco Cordeiro, but that: “Things were finally sorted out.”

“He (Cordeiro) had the right to defend the interests of his region, and the US ability to communicate the reasons behind a decision that only the US could take: the redistribution of its military resources around the world, but where negotiations resulted in fair compensation for the Portuguese staff working on the base,” he said.

The President of the Portuguese Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, recalled the Portuguese revolutionary song “Grandola Vila Morena” that states in one line: “in every point a friend”. “That is the case today. You left plenty of friends in Portugal and they like you and some of them even love you,” he said.

“I discovered that you not only fell in love with Portugal, but at the same time you fell in love with Kim Sawyer (The ex-ambassador’s wife) once again in Portugal. You rediscovered Kim in Portugal.

In describing his depiction in the book as: “praise from one being praised,” Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa noted a kind of “exchange of tributes” which would surely leave readers with the conviction that, “we Portuguese have loved the United States of America ever since they became a powerful nation and even before they existed as an independent nation.”