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Sorry in advance for the lengthy email – the tl;dr version is: Wikimedia
Portugal has done all it was asked to do, so the suspension that was held
conditional to performing those steps must be lifted accordingly. For the
sake of transparency, we are sending this out to not only the AffCom
mailing list, but also Wikimedia-l and WikimediaPT-l.
Dear members of AffCom,
(cc to the Wikimedia Portugal mailing list, Wikimedia mailing list)
Last 5th October we were again surprised by the content of your email
(quoted below) in response to us completing the roadmap we had agreed upon
in order to remove the suspension of Wikimedia Portugal. On that message,
you say you have once more received information whose substantiation is not
mentioned, from sources that are not disclosed. And still you seem to
accept it as the truth without even providing us with the opportunity to
get properly acquainted with it, let alone rebate or contradict it. While
you speak of transparency, that message is unsettlingly opaque, as have
been multiple such messages relayed to us in the course of this whole
As you are well aware, Wikimedia Portugal was faced in March with a
situation where the president of the Board, João Vasconcelos, became
demissionary without any previous warning . It should be noted that when
Vasconcelos was elected as president of the Board back in 2015, he wasn’t
elected based on any background as a Wikimedia editor, as he has no history
of contribution to any of the Wikimedia projects, but rather on his self
proclaimed merits on organisational and conflict management (!). Despite
the best efforts of several people from Wikimedia Portugal over the years,
Vasconcelos sadly never really integrated well neither on Wikimedia
Portugal, nor in the Portuguese Wikimedia community.
So, in light of what looked like an existential threat for WMPT, I and a
number of other WMPT members have publicly and transparently mobilized
ourselves to organize an extraordinary General Election to elect the new
Board. Vasconcelos was probably expecting/hoping that we would ask him to
stay. But we have seen this sort of behavior elsewhere [a].We didn't.
Instead, we handled the situation cooperatively, as a group, openly.
Vasconcelos never voiced any desire to take part on this collective
solution-building, as evidenced by his silence from the discussion on the
Wikimedia Portugal mailing list in March  and April . He was welcome
to do so. His only message to the mailing list was two days (13 April)
before the 15 April General Assembly, announcing that he considered the
planned General Assembly null . Given the lack of legal standing for
that claim, we carried on with the General Assembly (the transparent,
inclusive, democratic governing body of associations), summoned according
to our by-laws. This General Assembly successfully elected new governing
bodies, including the Board of Directors.
In May we were surprised by a message from AffCom demanding that we stop
taking part in a conflict, and "refrain from representing ourselves as
representatives of Wikimedia Portugal" (see quoted message in 
was the very first time the Committee contacted Wikimedia Portugal about
this case. The message provided no legal precedent or framework for this
demand, no indication of what this conflict was, or why AffCom thought the
Board was a part of it.
From what we understood, Vasconcelos went to the
Wikimedia Conference in
Berlin, where he seems to have convinced AffCom that our
of 15 April was legally void.
We have repeatedly provided concrete evidence that t it was not the case,
including quoting relevant court decisions backing this 
In response, AffCom reported having no time to read through legal texts,
and therefore not being able to assess the validity of our declarations,
but that is beyond our control. And yet AffCom accepted Vasconcelos’
version without question. It is a legal imperative to be held innocent
until proven guilty, and until it is legally proven there was some
wrongdoing, General Assemblies are valid and binding.
After the April General Assembly we were working, in addition to our
activities and programs, to put the association in order in terms of
obligations to the Portuguese state and the tax authorities, providing
access to WMPT’s bank account to the persons designated on the 15 April GA,
and so on. Things were getting on track...
We were surprised again in July by a message from AffCom temporarily
suspending Wikimedia Portugal’s recognition as a Wikimedia chapter . In
that message for the first time you laid out a concrete roadmap that, if
followed (as we understood), would lead to lifting the suspension. The
roadmap set out a list of demands from AffCom which we diligently
fulfilled, even well ahead of the required deadlines. We organized and held
a new General Assembly in September, summoned according to the
interpretation of the Portuguese Civil Code that AffCom relayed to us (with
the exception of anything we believed would make the proceeding illegal,
which was communicated in due time to AffCom). This General Assembly had
the same result as before . The Assembly was normally held, despite
severe attempts of sabotage from Vasconcelos, reported in due time to
AffCom, Legal and the Safety team. In addition to the minutes , an audio
recording of the assembly is available in Commons  ; video recording is
also available on request.
We then submitted our overdue Financial Report , demonstrated support
from the community to the continuation of the chapter , and wrote a
plan for improved chapter capacity . All should be good now...
Having done all this, despite our disagreement that a new Assembly was
needed in the first place, we are now again surprised by the reception of
the opaque message I mention in the beginning, sent by AffCom to my email
(quoted below) affirming that the Committee had received reports from
unstated persons with unspecified concerns about the General Assembly and
the capacity of Wikimedia Portugal to run as a chapter. The message claims
that "there were a number of issues with lack of transparency [as well as
with] providing an opportunity to participate in an open, organizational
process" while not specifying these issues at all. Your message questions
whether we are "prepared as an Affiliate to prevent disruption in [our]
organization's collective pursuit of the movement’s mission", even though
we have so far been able to handle every attempt at disruption from
If we rolled up our sleeves to activate the scattered energies of a stale
organization in order to prepare and execute April’s General Assembly, it
was because we were convinced that Wikimedia Portugal had a viable future
ahead, and was of value to the Wikimedia movement. At the time, the actions
of Vasconcelos were so absurd that the reaction to them even spurred some
founders and (by then) inactive members of WMPT to offer their help in
reestablishing a functional organization. Along with the help of a number
of historic as well as new members who have been steadily returning and
joining our ranks, that’s precisely what we are achieving.
That’s why we’ve been working on fulfilling the AffCom roadmap requests,
even if we didn’t like or agree with some aspects of it. All things
considered, it was a clear path to resolving our situation, and we found
that parts of it could be useful to the chapter. But AffCom’s validation of
Vasconcelos’ actions and claims, even if unintentional, have real
consequences for the mental state and safety of our members.
Back in March, when Vasconcelos claimed he had requested our bank to lock
the chapter’s bank account, started a process at the Public Prosecution
Service, and he had talked with an attorney on that subject, can you
imagine what André, our treasurer, felt waiting in line in the bank until
he found what really happened? In the end, the bank account had not been
locked because of any court order or legal reason as Vasconcelos implied,
but rather because someone had tried to access the bank account without the
proper credentials, and the system automatically locked the account.
Before the General Assembly in September, Vasconcelos sent out legal
threats and even menaces of police intervention to anyone participating. We
still went through with it, but can you imagine how we felt, the pressure
that was under some of us? It was all a bluff in the end, but this is what
you put us through.
Notwithstanding, WMPT activities were happening in parallel. They are
listed on our activities plan for anyone to see , and more are planned.
After several years of inactivity, we are happy to be on a sustainable
growth path, gradually building capacity and doing the best we can with the
resources available to us. We’ve also been using our personal contacts with
other movements in order to increase our organization’s capacity. Ana,
newly appointed to the Board, has just returned from Wiki Takes Zamora,
where she was learning from Wikimedia Spain, relaunching the collaboration
between both chapters. Two of the events we have planned for November are
using this paradigm. We’ll celebrate Wikidata’s sixth anniversary with a
local group of data enthusiasts in Porto, and near Lisbon we’re helping
with the organization and will participate in a FOSS event, so in both
cases we’ll also acquire event organization skills. This growth path is in
peril if you continue to undermine our efforts.
Over the last half year we’ve been attacked, offended, insulted, received
multiple threats of judicial action by Vasconcelos, and even an actual
intimidatory letter from a lawyer working for him (but purportedly on
behalf of WMPT); and during this entire time we’ve tried not to escalate
the situation, not to engage with such attempts at direct confrontation,
nor make them public. You force us now to disclose this in order to clear
our name and set the record straight. With the help and support of the
legal and security departments of the Wikimedia Foundation, we have dealt
with the actions of Vasconcelos so far. And we will follow the disciplinary
procedures foreseen for these situations in our bylaws which may result in
his removal from the chapter.
We’ve repeatedly complied in unusually strict terms with legal
requirements, and with AffCom’s roadmap, while dealing with Vasconcelos’
actions as privately as we could in order not to affect the public image of
the Wikimedia movement, nor its community – but honestly, we’re reaching
the point of exhaustion in light of AffCom’s puzzling behavior along this
process. We understand that AffCom may have reserves regarding our future,
but the way it is dealing with the situation is clearly counterproductive.
How can AffCom keep making new accusations without at least asking us for
information or confirmations?
Currently, our major source of disruption, distress and anxiety is each new
message we receive from AffCom, as they repeatedly defy our expectations of
a partner claiming to be attempting to help us getting back on our feet. We
are actually wary that the next address could be an announcement that
Wikimedia Portugal has been de-recognized, even after we have passed our
“road of trials”, due to the ever moving goalposts. Several of our key
people have reported insomnia, including myself, after receiving your
communications. We’re reaching our physical, psychological, and
motivational limit, in great part due to AffCom’s actions and inexplicable
lack of support and transparency.
It is time to stop this! Despite what we still believe were your best
intentions, AffCom has inadvertently caused significant destabilization for
Please honor your part of the compromise, lift this suspension and let us
proceed in the productive pursuit of our collective mission.
*Website: *http://pt.wikimedia.org <https://sites.google.com/view/themudo>
*Imagine um mundo onde cada ser humano pode partilhar livremente a soma de
todo o conhecimento, na sua própria língua.*