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 process.
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 ).This 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 General Assembly 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 Vasconcelos.
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 Wikimedia Portugal.
Please honor your part of the compromise, lift this suspension and let us proceed in the productive pursuit of our collective mission.
 https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/private/wikimedia-pt-internal/2018-March/002183.html (private mailing list, temporarly available at https://pastebin.com/dFcJ1ywG)
 https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/private/wikimedia-pt-internal/2018-April/002233.html; (private mailing list, temporarly available at https://pastebin.com/GF9Wvg3t)
 https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/private/wikimedia-pt-internal/2018-July/002414.html; (private mailing list, temporarly available at https://pastebin.com/uX7jrcNr )
Olá Gonçalo and Paulo,
Thank you for your messages. We have been reviewing the details which have been shared in your correspondence as well as available to the committee more generally. While we appreciate your efforts in helping Wikimedia Portugal get back to a governance status that complies with the Chapter Agreement and its Bylaws, we have received complaints about the elections process and whether the group has the capacity needed of a Wikimedia chapter.
Despite having provided a plan for how the Board would be selected in a manner that meets the organization's bylaws, relevant local laws and regulations, and the Wikimedia Organizational Best Practices, there were a number of issues with lack of transparency and providing an opportunity to participate in an open, organizational process. The challenges observed in the implementation of that process have increased the committee’s concerns that you are prepared as an Affiliate to prevent disruption in your organization's collective pursuit of the movement’s mission.
As a chapter organization, the leadership needs to demonstrate practices in transparency and the ability to resolve disputes. While it is understood that João's actions directly interrupted the proceedings, the decision to communicate in a closed circle from the point of the proposal until the invitations were sent to members left no room for potential prevention, intervention, or otherwise corrective action along the way to the interrupted assembly. Until you are able to demonstrate the ability to work cooperatively as a unit, the committee still has some concerns about your preparedness to represent the movement at the formal chapter level.
In the upcoming weeks, we will be reviewing your capacity plan and the situation overall in order to identify needed next steps.
On 3/9/2018 10:33 a.m., GoEthe.wiki wrote:
Dear members of AffCom,
Yesterday we held the General Assembly for Wikimedia Portugal as we had agreed. As we informed you, we had to change the venue in the last minute, due to direct interference from João Vasconcelos. Not only did he send a letter to the Municipal Board of Culture and Science stating that our meeting there was illegal (as conveyed to me by the director of that board by phone conversation), but he also tried to threaten and intimidate the members of the association by threatening legal and police action to anyone attending and that he infomed you of these actions.
We will try to get a copy of this letter from the city council today, to better analyse if he misrepresented himself as an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation (as it appeared from the internal email thread the Director of the Municipal Board forwarded to us). In the email he tried to send to members of the association he claimed to have filed criminal charges against us, in accordance to a compromisse he had with AffCom.We have no notice of any legal procedures put against us, and I personally cannot imagine that AffCom knew about any of this prior to our email Friday night, but if you have any information about this that you may share, I would be greatly appreciative.
We are in contact with Legal at WMF and we will keep them informed of any developments.
In order to proceed with our agreed Roadmap, we had to arrange an alternative location at the last minute. We informed associates half an hour before the scheduled time of the change of venue (which was a 10 minute walk from the original location), and also asked the City Council (who is responsible for the space we were originally going to use for the GA) to inform anyone that may happen to go there by mistake of the change of plans. This way, anyone already planning to attend were able to do just that.The meeting started with a few minutes delay to ensure that anyone in transit from one place to the other were able to reach the new destination and proceeded according to the order of business we had publicly announced.The financial statement for 2017 was discussed and approved, and the 2017 Annual Report is now published at our site (pt / en).
We also elected the board of directors, and the other governing bodies. The only change from the board elected in April 2018 is the replacement of Béria Lima by Ana Cravo as Secretary of the Board. The consitution of our governing bodies are then now:
Board of Directors
Gonçalo Themudo, president
André Barbosa, treasurer
Ana Cravo, secretary
General Assembly Table
Paulo Santos Perneta, president
Carlos Barradas, secretary
João Carvalho, 2nd secretary
Waldir Pimenta, president
Manuel de Sousa, secretary
João Lemos, member
You can also find the minutes for this General Assembly at https://pt.wikimedia.org/wiki/Reuni%C3%B5es/XI_Assembleia-Geral.
With best regards,
_______________________________________________ Affiliations Committee mailing list AffCom@lists.wikimedia.org https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/affcom
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