The award, conferred by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation, is aimed at recognising the conduct of people who stand out, not only in the defence of individual freedoms, but also for their spirit and their solidary actions, following examples given during their lives by hundreds of saviours.
The ceremony took place on November 18th at the Argentine Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Foreign Service Institute auditorium (ISEN in Spanish). The award winners were seated at the head table with Portuguese Ambassador to Argentina, Antonio Almeida Ribeiro; the dean of the ISEN, Ambassador José Sanchís Muñoz and the Vice-president of the IRWF, Dr. Natalio Wengrower.
Also present was Álvaro de Sousa Mendes, grandson of the Portuguese diplomat and President of the Aristides de Sousa Mendes Foundation of Lisbon, who travelled specially to Argentina for the event. Another grandson, Francisco Sousa Mendes sent a letter from Portugal to the founder IRWF, Baruch Tenembaum, praising the initiative.
Speaking before an audience of over two hundred peoples the Portuguese Ambassador read letters of greetings from the Prime Minister and the President of Portugal after which he presented the 2002 Sousa Mendes Award to the winners.
Seventy-two hours earlier, IRWF volunteer John Crisostomo presented the Sousa Mendes Commemorative Medal to former Portuguese Prime Minister Mario Soares in a ceremony held Lisbon. Soares was the head of state that publicly rehabilitated Sousa Mendes’ name and apologised for the injustices committed against the diplomat during the Antonio de Oliveira Salazar dictatorship.