Posts filed under ‘Immigration’

Brazil not such a haven for immigrants

It was on the news: Brazilian students at the University of Brasilia set fire to the student residence where African students lived. The criminals emptied fire extinguishers, piled bricks against the exit doors, waited until the foreign students were asleep and poured gasoline on their doors. Luckily, a student from Guine-Bissau was able to extinguish the fire before it consumed the building and no one died.

I often hear from Brazilians abroad that it’s not fair that they are discriminated against in places like the US and Europe when they are so nice to the foreigners going to Brazil. Sure. If you are a white, blond foreigner, maybe… If you are African or Latin American it seems Brazilians can be just as xenophobic as anybody else…

For those who read Portuguese, check Denise’s very thorough post on the situation of immigrants in Brazil.

April 2, 2007 at 9:46 pm 7 comments

Canadian citizenship

Browsing through the blogosphere – something I really shouldn’t get into – I came across the blog of a Brazilian couple (Mirella & Christian) who immigrated to Canada in 2000, in which they talk about the immigration process, the arrival in the new country, adaptation, moving around (they lived in Toronto and Ottawa), deciding to stay for good and finally gettting Canadian citizenship in 2005.

Thinking the citizenship ceremony would be a cold, bureaucratic event, Mirella was surprised at the behaviour of the judge officiating the event (translation below):

A juiza foi extremamente atenciosa, de forma extremamente informal e carinhosa ela nos contou sobre os direitos e responsabilidades dos cidadaos, da importancia de participarmos ativamente junto a nossa comunidade etc… mas acima de tudo ela disse que nos admirava, pois independente da razao que tenha nos motivado a mudar para o Canada (aventura, profissão, qualidade de vida, refugio politico, casamento etc), nos eramos vencedores e dignos de honra… pois poucas pessoas seriam capazes de arriscar ficar longe de família e amigos e deixar tudo o que construiu para trás. Juro que quase chorei nessa hora, não por mim, mas por alguns amigos que conheci na escolinha de inglês no passado e que eram refugiado politicos, que deixaram tudo, que tiveram tempo de apenas fazer uma mala, entrar no avião, chegar no Canada e pronto… deu um aperto grande no coração… mas me sinto orgulhosa ao mesmo tempo!

Trans: The judge was extremelly attentive, in an extremelly informal and warm way she explained the rights and responsibilities of citizens , the importance of participating actively in our communities, etc… but above all, she said she admired us, because independently of the reason that lead us to move to Canada (adventure, work, quality of life, political asylum, marriage, etc), we were winners and worthy of honour… since few people would be capable of risking being away from family and friends, leaving everything they built behind. I swear I almost cried then, not for myself, but for some friends I met at English classes in the past who were political refugees, who left everything, who hardly had time to pack a bag, get into a plane, arrive in Canada and period… it tugged at my heartstrings… but I felt proud at the same time!

Me at my citizenship ceremonyThat’s exactly what my citizenship ceremony was like!! If it had happened in the same city, I would have thought it was the same judge. Mine was in June/2005. I was hoping the process would take a couple more weeks so I could have become a citizen on July 1 (Canada Day)! It was indeed a very emotional event and like Mirella & Christian, I applied for Canadian citizenship not only because it might have made life more convenient for me, but mostly because I came to identify with Canadian culture and values. Particularly with the sense of social justice, equality and the strong belief in the positive aspects of multiculturalism.

This attachment to Canada has become even more evident in recent weeks, as we start planning our move back home. Despite enjoying every minute I have spent in Spain and cherishing all the many friends I’ve made in the past few months, Alan and I are both looking forward to going back to Canada.

February 2, 2007 at 8:59 pm 8 comments

Immigration (in portuguese)

I´ve been thinking a lot about immigration lately. I´m an immigrant myself, and the issue is constantly under debate both in Canada – where I live permanently – and here in Spain – where I am temporarily.

Before I can coordinate my thoughts on the subject, however, I would like to direct my friends who read portuguese to Denise Arcoverde´s reflections on the immigrant life:

Sindrome de Estocolmo, “Reflexoes sobre a vida de imigrante”, part 1 & part 2

I´ll post some comments about it here later…

February 1, 2007 at 1:46 pm 1 comment

New law in Russia

A new law in Russia, passed after race riots rocked northern Russia last summer, set the maximum number of immigrants working in retail to 40% and aims to reduce that number to zero by the end of the year.

You can read more here: BBC News

Am I the only one to think this is a step backwards?

January 15, 2007 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment


“Desejo de ir além das aparências, tentar descobrir nas pessoas qualquer coisa imperceptível aos sentidos comuns. Compreensão de que as diferenças não constituem razão para nos afastarmos, nos odiarmos. Certeza de que não estamos certos, aptidão para enxergarmos pedaços de verdade nos absurdos mais claros. Necessidade de compreender, e se isto é impossível, a pura aceitação do pensamento alheio.” Graciliano Ramos

To be a migrant is, perhaps, to be the only species of human being free of the shackles of nationalism (to say nothing of its ugly sister, patriotism). It is a burdensome freedom … The effect of mass migrations has been the creation of radically new types of human being: people who root themselves in ideas rather than places, in memories as much as in material things; people who have been obliged to define themselves – because they are so defined by others – by their otherness; people in whose deepest selves strange fusions occur, unprecedented unions between what they were and where they find themselves. The migrant suspects reality: having experienced several ways of being, he understands their illusory nature. To see things plainly, you have to cross frontiers … Migrants must, of necessity, make a new imaginative relationship with the world, because of the loss of familiar habitats …

Salmon Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands 124-125

December 4, 2006 at 12:18 pm Leave a comment

Citizen of the world

This Portuguese poem was written by a Brazilian woman married to an Afro-German man living in the US and it brings out many of the things I feel as a citizen of the world. At the end she says, and here I clumsly translate, “Through being a foreigner, I adopted a homeland (a country) wherein fits the whole of humanity”. It brought tears to my eyes…


Regina Camargo
Setembro, 2005

Sou paulistana da gema,
Gema preciosa
Essência multicor
Por onde flutuam
Pensamentos, palavras e sentimentos
Em línguas várias
Sou brasileira tupiniquim
Latina viviendo sin fronteras
Cidadã do mundo que gosta de ouvir
MPB, funk e jazz
Swissgrove Radio pela internete
De dançar ao som de bangra, raï,
Eletrônica and drum’n’bass
Ojos de Brujo, Femi Kuti
Amina, Cheb Mami
Home is where the heart is
So they say
Mas meu coração errante
Il est partout
São Paulo, Curitiba,
New York, Berkeley,
Salvador, Paris,
Berlim, Amsterdam
Quem sabe um dia
Dakar e Dehli.
Alma cigana que sonha em visitar o Mali,
Bamako de Salif Keita e Boubacar Traore
Mas que nem por isso se esquece de Caetano,
Chico, Gil, Milton, Lo Borges, Lenine
E de tantos mais.
Minha boca se enche d’água
Quando sinto o cheiro de samosas,
Naan e mango lassi,
Tandoori chicken, Sushi,
Pad-Thai, chiles rellenos,
Hummus, baba ganush,
Pita bread, pão de queijo
Moqueca de peixe, farofa,
Tutu de feijão, virado de couve,
Mandioca, escarola, agrião,
Doce de leite, beijinho,
Suco de maracujá, jabuticaba,
É fruta que não se acaba.
Minha certidão de nascimento diz
Que a minha cor é branca
Eu sempre achei isso muito mal contado
O lado português,
Tão vangloriado pelo meu pai,
Nunca enganou a minha avó materna:
Cara de índio, nariz chato,
Pele morena, cabelo assanhado.
Aqui renasço enquanto
“Person of color.”
Já limpei casa com piscina
Cuidei de filho alheio,
Fiz coisas que
Faculdade nenhuma ensina
Camaleoa que sou
Vou me adaptando pela vida afora
Dependendo de onde estou.
Com filhos que são americanos,
Mas que também são brasileiros e alemães
Marido afro-deustch
Alemão com cara de brasileiro
Whatever that means
Filhos com sotaque de gringo
Para quem Saci, Maus,
Caipora e Nikolaus
Habitam o mesmo universo de
Dr. Seus, Tin Tin e Asterix
Minha vida é marcada
Por uma sucessão de adeuses:
Aeroportos e passaportes,
Abraços ao vento.
Mas também de boas-vindas:
Janelas abertas,
Portas por abrir,
Good wishes.
Saudade que nunca se finda.
Ainda assim
É em sendo estrangeira
Que adoto uma pátria
Onde cabe a humanidade inteira.
Uma pátria sem fronteiras
Onde cada um festeja
As cores de suas bandeiras
O resto são fragmentos da memória
Cheiros, sons, paisagens
Mais lã no novelo da minha história.


December 4, 2006 at 12:02 pm 1 comment

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