Mayor Thomas Menino led a coterie of dignitaries at the official opening of the El Salvadoran consulate on Bennington Street last Friday morning.
Located at 46 Bennington Street, the consulate will be a virtual clearing house for the more than 10,000 El Salvadorans living in Greater Boston and with a large number living in this neighborhood.
General Consul Jose Edgardo Aleman Molina and Viceconsul Ena Ursula Pena told the large crowd that gathered in the first floor main meeting room of the new consul that the opening of the office was a great moment in the local history of the El Salvadoran people.
“We are pleased and we are grateful. Much good work will go on here,” they said.
Also delivering compelling remarks to the largely El Salvadoran crowd was the Minister of Community Affairs for El Salvador, Sonia Umanzor.
Mayor Menino’s remarks fit the occasion perfectly.
“You’ve moved to a great city,” he remarked. The El Salvadoran consulate had originally been located in Cambridge.
“You are the fourth largest immigrant group in the city – and this is a city where 73 languages are spoken in the public schools,” the mayor added.
“Respect and dignity is what our city government is all about. We welcome diversity. We connect with folks seeking opportunity coming here from around the globe. This is what we are all about. Get involved,” he implored.
“Don’t be left behind.”
His remarks were followed by a wide round of applause from the crowd.
The crowd, made up of El Salvadoran professionals, businesspeople and working families was extremely well dressed and the event was especially festive but with a strict agenda that began with the singing of the El Salvadoran National Anthem and the national anthem of the United States.
Consul Aleman’s remarks were dignified and to the point.
“This consulate is a community achievement,” he said. “This is now the house for all Salvadorans in New England and we are all very proud of this great accomplishment.”
Dignataries from Colombia, Portugal, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and Honduras were present.
A famous El Salvadoran poem written by the poet Claudia Lars was read to the crowd by Manlio Mendez. The reading was done with perfect Spanish and a great deal of emotion all of which was met by a hearty round of applause.
The master of ceremonies was the well spoken Director of Candela Magazine, Yany Gonzalez.
East Boston city councilor Sal LaMattina delivered kind words as well.
The first El Salvadoran consulate was opened in Cambridge in 1995.
The consulate then relocated to a smaller space in East Boston on Meridian Street and then to a better space on Border Street and finallt to the outstanding modern space with parking on Bennington Street.
“This is a consulate that is dignified,” said Consul Mendez.