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Perspectives

February 27, 2009
Crime changes perception of Brazilian immigrants abroad

Brazilian immigrants march in California.

Recently, a Brazilian immigrant in Switzerland made headlines when she claimed to have been attacked by skinheads, and the initials SVP (representing the right-wing Swiss People’s Party) were carved into her chest though she was pregnant.

The case drew media attention in both Switzerland and Brazil, television screens broadcasting the graphic images of the injured woman.

However, police say that she was not pregnant and may have carved the symbols into her own skin.

Natalia Viana is an investigative journalist who lives in São Paulo, Brazil. She writes at the “Frontline Club” about how Brazilian immigrants are seen abroad after such instances.

The changing image of Brazilian immigrants

Last week pictures of 26-year-old Brazilian Paula Oliveira, with the initials of Switzerland’s main right-wing party cut into her body were printed all over the world. She claimed to have been attacked by skinheads in Zurich, but later reportedly confessed to self-mutilating. Now she is being investigated for misleading the police.

The fact is that Brazilians are committing more crime abroad — and being more noticed for that. Today there are about 3.5 million Brazilians living abroad, including a proportion of illegal migrants. About half of them go to the U.S., but Europe and Japan are also key destinations. In London where I lived, it was common for Brazilian to be involved in all sorts of scams, from recruiting illegal workers to arranged marriages to Europeans.

Only this week, 50 Brazilians were arrested on suspicion of faking and selling fake passports in Mantova, Italy. A similar operation had taken place in Spain in January, with 33 Brazilians arrested as fraudsters.

As a consequence, the image of Brazilian immigrants is now changing. For many, they are no longer seen as the smiling hard working types, but as potential criminals, fraudsters or illegal workers. More than that, such perception has started to influence the attitude of several foreign authorities towards Brazilians.

When I first lived in the UK in 1999, saying that you were from the land of football and samba always meant a warm welcome. Nowadays, any Brazilian travelling abroad must expect to be treated as a criminal until proven otherwise.

Take the UK, for instance. It is estimated that about 200 thousand Brazilians live in the country, half of them illegally. Since 2006, about 6 thousand Brazilians are deported every year – making Brazil the leader in “returned” citizens. Last year the Home Office included Brazil in a list of 11 countries whose citizens should require a visa before travelling to the UK.

To read more, see the original post.

The views expressed by contributing bloggers do not reflect the views of Worldfocus or its partners.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user unsure shot under a Creative Commons license.

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Comments

13 comments

#13

I don’t understand some Brazilian woman they come Here use a US. Citizen to get a green card, marry An Old man! he leaves her some money then they go Back To Brazil invest the money and turn around And talk Bad about the USA. Hypocrite she knows Who she is that’s what you call back stabbing the Country that helped you the emigration should not Let them back when the economy gets better.

#12

They need to go back to their favelas and leave us alone. I can’t stand them.OUT OF PORTUGAL NOW

#11

People forget things very easy, like this Portuguese woman saying we should leave Portugal. Hahahaha!! Who invaded our land, killed our natives, stole our resources and gold, slaved our fellow Africans then burned everything before leaving!! Same thing with other European countries. Spanish crusaders, Dutch pirates and English professional thieves dressed up as merchants!! And they still do.
Learn history guys! There are bad people and good people everywhere. You see only what your eyes and perception of life can see. I see the truth!

#10

Brazilians monkeys???

We are no longer monkeys. We are HYENAS we smile at you but what we really want is eat you alive.
Always Remember: Brazilian = HYENAS

#9

I love brasileiros, and have even learned some portuguese, however I dont feel safe traveling there due to the extreme violence, which is probably why they are moving here to the US and abroad. Sadly Brasil isn’t the same country as 30 years ago..

#8

The brazilians are seen as undesirable because of the nastiness they bring. No one wants then anywhere. In Portugal we want them out ASAP.
male and females prostitutes, thieves don’t like to work. They are a disgrace. They will sell themselves before they go to wor. They are disgusting monkeys.
Even the government has publishe tips on how to become a more efficient slut.
I think they are an error of nature.

#7

I have been living in the US for 21 years. I am a citizen of both countries now. In the US, as in Brasil I studied and earned a degree. Living in the US is not about the financial gains only. It is about minimum beaurocracy, a system that is compassionate and fair. Where you are treated with respect even when you are dressed in your muddy working close. Where there is a real pursue for Human rights and equality. The system, of course, is not perfect since it is run by failable human beings. Unfortunately, some brazilian individuals, bring to their new life old bad habits. That is the case of many brazilian citizens who have moved to other countries and display behaviors learned previously in areas of Brazil where theft, manipulation, corruption, prostitution and subversion runs rampant. But, many millions more, like myself are hard workers. Brazilians who have earned legitimally a place in the sun for themselves and the family they helped to support in Brazil. I am gratefull to have been able to help support Brazil with my hard earned dollar. I am sure that other citizens, like me, who are here now are not going to go back, like Sam suggested (who is going to do the hard work?). Because Brazilians are amazing tough people and they are grateful people too. Who won’t turn their back because the US is having a little financial problem now. Besides, our american friends will need our experties now in order to go through this. Nothing like having a Brazilian around at times like this. They will tell you, my american friend: There is light at the end of the tunnel.

#6

Jaqueline,
So now the Brazilians think US is the third world ?? Haha ! Please.
Yes, the US is in a depression but so is the world. If any country has the resiliancy to pull herself out it quickier than any country would be the US. We still have the most fincially secure economy in the world.
Brazil surely have much higher ratio of wealthy vs poor. Last time I checked your per capita income didn’t even exceed $8,000 USD.
Great Brazil is doing so well, please take all your illegals in Florida and New Jersey and go home.

#5

It is because of a few sickminded ones that Brazilians get a bad name abroad. This incident with Paula de Oliveira gained way more publicity than it should
The vast majority of Brazilian immigrants are just hard working family people leading regular law abiding lives
And yes, Brazil’s economy is going very well, just look at the latest record profit of Petrobrás! We can easily say that the USA are a “third world” nation where there is poverty, scalating crime rates, drug traffic issues and a public health system that fails to assist even half of its population

#4

Well…The economy is really better in Brazil now and the immigration controlls in some countries, like spain and usa, are ridiculous to many times. But the people have a lot of reason to live in another country and to try to live others experiencies. I think this kind of angry and nationalist attitudes can be dangeours. We might end up playing the same dirty game.

#3

I have been happily married to a Brazillian national for more than a decade. We have a beautiful 11 year old daughter who is an excellent student (I don’t want Elena to feel left out). We have many, many Brazillian friends and extentended family members who are all hardworking and honest. Where we live in Central Massachusettes there is a thriving Local Brazillian community. Our regional economy is all the better for what Brazillians bring to our workforce and marketplace. I have yet to meet a Brazillian who is a prositute and I have heard ‘through the grapevine’ only rare expamples of fraud involving false passports. I hope that this recent decline in the enormously popular and positive perception Brazilians have enjoyed will return just as quickly as it has been unfairly tarnished. Brazillian men and women are among the most beautiful and family-centered people I have ever met. My own status has only improved by being smart and lucky enough to have married one.

#2

I agree Eva. In life there’s always time to start and time to finish. Living abroad is not the same that used to be. Specially in USA, after 9/11, things went from bad to worse. At the same time, Brazil’s economy had improved. Time to wake up. The dream is over.

#1

I just don’t understand why all Brazilians living abroad have not moved back to Brazil yet. Brazil’s economy and opportunities are much better than European and North American now. To prove the point look at all the foreign capital and citizens that have and still are flocking here. So lets call for union and wish our citizens …Hello Brazilians time to come back to our beautiful Country, things have changed since 1985! Did you know it?

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