Brazil's Latvians welcome Olympian minister

Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis has dropped in on the sizable Brazilian Latvian community as he takes in the Rio Olympic games as part of his official duties.

Bergmanis - himself a former Olympian in weightlifting - is the official Latvian government representative at the games from August 4 to 11.

On Tuesday he visited the Latvian community in Nova Odessa, complete with its Latvian Baptist Church, and Latvian Honorary Consulate and planted a commemorative tree.

While sending a defense minister to the Olympics might seem strange, Bergmanis' credentials cannot be doubted. He took part in three Olympic Games (1992, 1996, 2000) and becoming the first athlete to carry the Latvian national flag into the games after the restoration of independence in 1991 at the Barcelona Olympic Games of 1992.

It is estimated that there are some 25,000 Brazilians of Latvian ancestry.

You can read more about the fascinating and singular history of the long-established Latvian community in Brazil HERE.

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