Ambassador José Sanchis Muñoz, head of the Foreign Service Institute (ISEN), is seen with historian and journalist José Ignacio Garcia Hamilton, and journalist and former Herald editor Nicholas Tozer yesterday, at the Foreign Ministry. The occasion was an award ceremony, jointly organized by the institute and The international Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, at which the two journalists were awarded the Aristides de Sousa Mendes International Prize, for work on the field of human rights.
The prize was instituted in memory of a Portuguese consul in France, Sousa Mendes (1885-1954), who in 1940 helped save 30,000 fugitives – many of them Jews – from the Nazis by issuing visas to travel to Portugal, against the wishes of dictator Antonio de Olivera Salazar. When Sousa Mendes was finally forced back to Portugal he was suspended from the foreign service, eventually to die in poverty, all but one of his 14 children were not living in the country. In 1987, the Portuguese government rehabilitated the diplomat, who has since been elevated to the status of hero for his humanitarian work. The Portuguese ambassador, Antonio Almeida Ribeiro, presented the two awards. Present was Alvaro Rodrigues de Sousa Mendes, grandson of the late diplomat, who runs a foundation in Lisbon.