are we friends now the president of malta and i?
I told her I was enjoying my stay in Malta, and she cautioned me to be careful of the sun. Briefly and with the fingers, we shook hands. So went my encounter with her excellency Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, the ninth President of the Republic of Malta.
I learned that her “nomination as President was, for the first time in the history of the Maltese National Parliament, approved unanimously by a parliamentary resolution of the House of Representatives” and that “at the age of 55 years, Coleiro Preca is the youngest President of the country, and is the second woman occupying the office of Head of State after 32 years.”
Madame President with a police escort arrived at 10:00 at Triq Ir-Repubblika, the main street that runs through the center of Valletta, and stopped in front of the Great Siege Monument where an honor guard awaited her.
There, September 8, as a part of her duties she participated in a wreath-laying ceremony on the occasion of Victory Day, at the foot of the Great Siege Monument. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
Victory Day is very important to the Maltese. It recalls the end of three historical sieges: “the Great Siege of Malta by the Turkish Empire ending in 1565; the Siege of Valletta by the French Blockade ending in 1800; and the Siege of Malta during the Second World War by the Italian army ending in 1943.”
After the brief ceremony President Preca greeted individuals in the crowd, shaking their hands and wishing them well and warning them about the sun.
OK . . . so maybe my encounter was not unusual. Maybe it was similar to the other greetings. But we did make eye contact, and she approached. (Maybe she liked my camera.)
Afterwards she got into the car and the crowd began to clap and she returned from where she had come. The honor guard with much fanfare marched away, the crowd watching and slowly dispersing. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)
I had another close encounter with a president, President Isabelle Peron of Argentina shortly before she and her government were overthrown in the mid-1970’s. I said the same thing to her, more or less, as I did to the President of Malta. (I don’t remember what she said to me, if anything.)
On a quiet Sunday I was strolling on Avenue Florida in Buenos Aires, Argentina when I heard, “Viva Argentina,” and I saw two men dressed in dark suits walking with her as she was window shopping. (At least I thought at the time that she was window shopping, pausing occasionally.)
I trust I will not be reading tomorrow about a coup in Malta.