The World Council of Houses of the Azores (WCHA) was established on the 13th of November of 1997, in the city of Horta (Azores). A unanimously approved founding document, the “Horta Declaration”, formalized the establishment of the Council, defined its objectives, and commissioned it with the task of “articulating the activities of the Houses of the Azores with each other and with those of the regional government.”
The genesis of the World Council of Houses of the Azores took place on the 15th of June of 1996 when the House of Azores of the North (of Portugal) organized a meeting that brought together Houses of the Azores from continental Portugal, New England, and Quebec.
In February of 1997, the then President of the Regional Government of the Azores, Carlos César, met with representatives of the Houses of the Azores from continental Portugal in the city of Coimbra. At this meeting, the Council’s guiding principles were established and formally expressed in what became known as the “Coimbra Declaration”. These principles were adopted and implemented to promote collaboration and improve relations amongst the Houses and the regional government of the Azores, in the interest of the Azorean people.
On the 7th and 8th of June of the same year, the Second Meeting of the Houses of the Azores took place in the city of New Bedford, USA. For the first time in history, all of the Houses of Azores were gathered. The meeting was organized by the House of Azores of New England and supported by the Regional Directorate for the Communities. This event established the basis for an agreement of principle concerning the constitution of an international institution that would congregate the Houses of the Azores.
The principal objective of the World Council of Houses of the Azores is to promote and develop activities that, directly or indirectly, contribute to the affirmation of the Azores and its diaspora in the world as well as preserving and developing social, cultural and economic relations between the archipelago, the host regions, and countries where Houses of the Azores have been established. Its main objectives are:
• To congregate communities of Azoreans;
• To divulge the Azores, the Azoreans and their culture to the populations of the regions they inhabit;
• To defend the interests of the Azores, of Azoreans and their descendants;
• To serve as a bond between the Autonomous Region of the Azores and the countries and regions where Houses of the Azores have been established;
• To affirm the Azorean regional identity as an integral part of the Portuguese nation.
All of the Houses of the Azores that founded the WCHA are members as are those that have joined throughout the years, comprising a total of thirteen. The chronological order of adhesion to the WCHA is the following:
• House of the Azores of Lisbon, Rio de Janeiro, Quebec, North (Portugal), Hilmar, São Paulo, Ontario, New England and Algarve – 13th November of 1997, Horta;
• House of the Azores of Winnipeg and Santa Catarina – 2nd of June 2001, Porto;
• House of the Azores of Rio Grande do Sul – 8th of June 2003, Ponta Delgada;
• House of the Azores of Uruguay – 1st September 2011, Rio de Janeiro.
The World Council consists of two institutional organs: the General Assembly and the Secretariat. The General Assembly is constituted by all Houses of the Azores that belong to the World Council and is represented by its president or by the person who s/he appoints and by the Regional Directorate for the Communities, which does not have the right to vote but can offer advice and issue recommendations. The secretariat is constituted by four representatives of the House of the Azores that holds the presidency of the Council (President of the World Council, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer).
The WCHA has its own symbols – a flag and a logotype – that were approved at the General Assembly and which should be inscribed in all its documents.