Cabo Verde Press Conference: Long Beach City Hall
By Yanel Mayorga, Wilson Classical High School, Kid’s Talk Radio
Editor’s Desk: Yanel Mayorga was one of our first student backpack journalists that was trained at Kids Talk Radio Long Beach. She has gone on to college and continues to write. She has a deep understanding of Cape Verde and we hope to have her join our young adult team as we continue our STEAM Plus program for 2013-2015.
The 8th. Districts Long Beach Councilwoman Rae Gabelich made it possible for the second Cabo Verde and USA Kid’s Talk Radio Press Conference about Global Warming to take place at City Hall in the city of Long Beach. The two mayors from the Cabo Verde Islands were officially welcomed to the City of Long Beach, California.
On Tuesday, November 18, 2008, the Mayor of Brava, Sr. Camilo Goncalves and the Mayor of Fogo, Sr. Eugenio Veiga, visited California and held a press conference with Kids Talk Radio at Long Beach’s Civic Center. Deputy Joao Alves and interpreter Armindo Goncalves accompanied these officials from the Republic of Cape Verde; who are also from Cape Verde. One student reporter from Wilson High School and one student reporter from Poly High School were selected to attend the conference and interview the visitors with their own questions as well as some questions from students in the state of Georgia and students in New York. The press conference covered important issues that are occurring in the Cape Verde islands and that have occurred as well.
The Cape Verde Islands are a group of islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean, North of Senegal on the coast of Western Africa. The islands became independent from Portugal in 1975 and have demonstrated to be one of Africa’s most stable democratic governments since 1990.
The Republic of Cape Verde has been faced with many weather and climate struggles throughout the years. When asked if they have noticed any changes in climate in the past three years, they responded: “From my perspective, nothing extraordinary has been witnessed in cape Verde that would lead me to believe there has been a dramatic climatic change in Cape Verde. But on the other hand we have noticed slight changes in climate patterns. We are now witnessing, although at a small scale, tornadoes or heavy episodic periods of rain that only happened thirty to forty years ago in the Cape Verde islands; we are seeing these phenomenons reoccurring again. For example my island, island Brava is perhaps the most temperate in terms of mild climate, beautiful climate, comfortable climate… but more recently, we have been noticing that the island of Brava, the climate is much, much hotter than it used to be before,” stated Mayor Goncalves. “So that is one of the evidences that we have, because it is something we can feel and witness So then yes, although very small, but it is there and it is notable.” Mayor Veiga elaborated to Mayor Goncalves answer, “We live a global world, and so any global change has a global impact like a trickle-down-effect. Cape Verde is a small country in terms of geography therefore it’s very much insolated. For example, when [I] returned from my studies [in Romania, where I went to college], I felt so hot. I had never felt so hot before. The impression I get, is the temperature increased over time.” Cape Verde has been a drought-ridden place for many years throughout history, but as Mayor Veiga later reported, from June 2008 until now, there has been an increase in rain. This is great for the islands, but the inhabitants seem a bit afraid. “We never expected it!” interpreter A. Goncalves added.
Drought is believed to have been a cause of many fatalities in the past at the Cape Verde Islands. Mayor Veiga introduced his ideas and opinions on the subject. “We didn’t directly experience this period of famine and drought.” The period was during the colonial rule of the Portuguese, and Mayor Veiga believes that the unpredictable weather and the political standing of the islands caused the drought and its outcomes. The islands at the time were a colony that was dependent on foreign countries for food and supplies. Because this was about the same time of World War II, supplies were short. All the components added along with the natural drought increased the number of casualties around this period. During this time, the people affected by the drought and famine were so desperate that in the capital of the Cape Verde Islands, Praia, located on Santiago Island; many people went into an executive office building to beg for food. The building became overwhelmed with people in a very short period of time, that the entire building collapsed and killed all of the people in the building. “It was a dark period of time,” Deputy Joao Alves lamented.
The dark times may have been an unfortunate period but in many cases it also served as a teacher for the Republic to be able to deal with other obstacles as they present themselves. “Based on oral history, oral information handed down to me by my grandparents, the volcano [located in Fogo] erupts about every hundredth year. I think it was in the late 1950’s we had a major volcanic eruption,” Deputy Joao Alves stated. The republic cannot conduct many studies nor has much information recorded because of their lack of equipment and funds. NASA has a weather station located in Fogo and most of the information becomes available through NASA’s station and research.
The Cape Verde islands have many coral reefs that are inhabited by unique plants and animals only found in the Cape Verde reefs. Many scientists are conducting research for medicines with specimens from the reefs and some believe that global warming is hurting the reefs. The mayors explained what action is being taken to protect the reefs and their rare occupants. “Today, the government is introducing more and more legislation in that area. For example every alien has a specific [natural protection] area,” Mayor Goncalves stated. “There is also a strong political and educational component that comes from this, the need to educate people on these natural resources.” Cape Verde also made an agreement with Holland and other countries to protect and promote the need to preservation these natural wonders. There is also a fifteen-year plan to have a technical team make sure the reefs are protected. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough funds to put the plan in action; the plan would cost about one million dollars, of which only fifteen percent is available.
Cape Verde prevents pollution as much as possible, there is little to no pollution from manufactures. They take a preventative approach on just about everything. They try to educate the children about the issues at a young age. As far as protection goes, changes have been made. In the past, people would eat turtles, which led to the endangerment of the species. Now, if a civilian is caught with a turtle, he or she will be fined. “No one messes with the turtles.” Interpreter A. Goncalves stated. Later, after the interview he added, “The U.S. is helping by patrolling our waters so that they aren’t being over-fished by foreign countries.” Apparently, the U.S. Navy makes sure that the waters aren’t being fished because in the past, countries such as China, have fished in them without Cape Verde’s knowledge.
As far as what the United States can do to help the Cape Verdeans preserve and continue to do well is to be able to provide aid in case of a tsunami, volcano eruption, and other natural disasters. They also wish the United States to pair up with Cape Verde and conduct further studies to document and preserve the environment. They are also interested in student exchange programs and partnerships between schools. There is also a lot of poverty on the island and the mayor’s are hoping that with help from the United States and other foreign countries poverty may be eliminated. The Cape Verde island officials visited California with hopes of building a relationship with the United States and to educate others about the needs of preserving the natural resources in the vulnerable islands.
By: Yanel Mayorga
Wilson Classical High School
Kid’s Talk Radio Science Journalist
On Special Assignment
November 18, 2008