Leaders from community organizations of Brazilian immigrants will meet in a conference this weekend in Boston – it is the Summit of Brazilian Leaders in the U.S.
The objective is to discuss the status of Brazilian nationals living in the US – regarding their health, work conditions, legal rights and other topics. This summit will also discuss ways to coordinate the organizations’ work across the country, and organize a common agenda.
The summit will be open Friday, the 21st with a presentation of Boston’s mayor Thomas Menino. On Saturday, participants will group to discuss specific issues, to conclude with working groups on Sunday morning.
Brazilian immigration to the US is recent but is increasing at a rapid pace. Customs officials indicate the Brazilians as the fastest growing group of immigrants crossing the frontier with Mexico in 2005.
The purpose of the Summit of Brazilian Leadership in the United States is to convene community-based organizations, Brazilian activists, policy makers, scholars, and friends of the Brazilian immigrant community to discuss a common organizing agenda for Brazilian immigrants based in the U.S. and to create a network of community-based organizations that represent the diverse interests of Brazilian immigrants in the U.S.
In 2002, Harvard University held "First Brazil Week at Harvard: The Brazilian Community in New England," the first conference that examined Brazilian immigration to the United States.
In 2003, there were two other events held at Harvard University: "Roundtable: Studying the Brazilian Community in New England" and the "Book Signing Celebration: Recent Scholarship on the Brazilian Community in Boston," highlighted important topics related to Brazilian immigration.
In 2004, the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies of Harvard University published the report: "Giving Voice to a Nascent Community: Exploring Brazilian Immigration to the U.S. through Research and Practice." In 2005, Harvard University sponsored the First Conference on National Immigration to the U.S.
Each of these events highlighted the need for a national perspective on Brazilian immigrants. Ideas evolved for expanding the network of researchers and community groups interested in Brazilian immigration and the variety of issues affecting Brazilian immigrants living in the U.S.
Information from Brazilian communities living in the East and West Coast of the U.S. suggest that there are different perspectives and issues to be considered.
In April 2005, a group of Brazilian activists from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York held a regional meeting to organize a national summit to discuss the important issues facing Brazilian immigrants.
It was agreed that the purpose of this summit would be to enable community leaders to interact and exchange views with the goal of creating a common agenda that will improve the lives of Brazilian immigrants in the U.S.
Since the second half of the 1980s, Brazil, historically a country of immigrants, has been dramatically changing its position on international migrations. According to data gathered in the 1980s by Brazilian Federal Police, 1.25 million or 1 percent of Brazil’s total population emigrated to other countries, including Portugal, Italy, the U.S., Paraguay, and Japan.
As economic refugees fleeing Latin America’s "lost decade," 38 percent of Brazilians chose the U.S. as their new home. Thus, approximately 750,000 Brazilians live in the U.S. Most are living in New York, Massachusetts closely followed by Florida.
Population data on Brazilians living in the U.S. is extremely inconsistent: numbers range from 181,076 to 1.2 million immigrants. The discrepancy in the figures is due to two main problems.
As with many immigrant populations, undocumented Brazilians fear participating in the U.S. Census. They worry that the U.S. government will use the information to deport them. Another reason for the inaccuracy is the lack of an appropriate category that correctly identifies Brazilians on the short forms of the Census.
In spite of the barriers to collecting accurate data, available information shows a pattern of growth in the population. For example, the 1990 Census estimated that there were 94,087 Brazilians living here while the 2000 Census counted 181,076. The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that there are currently 784,000 Brazilians in the United States.
Other sources have different numbers. For example, local and regional community organizations estimate that there are roughly 250,000 to 280,000 Brazilians living in New England and that they come from a variety of regions.
Brazilians in the U.S. are no longer only from Governador Valadares (state of Minas Gerais), as previous research suggested. Although the state of Minas Gerais is still responsible for the largest group, new migration flows from Southern states, such as Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Southeastern states, such as Espírito Santo, contribute to a swell in the population.
In New England, the Brazilian population is comprised mostly of young adults of reproductive age. The educational attainment of Brazilian immigrants in the U.S. is wide ranging spanning from little formal schooling through graduate level. The majority have at least a high school education or incomplete college.
When Brazilian migration first began to the U.S., Brazilians tended to stay for short periods of time to accumulate money in order to build a better economic life in their home country. Recent evidence indicates that the Brazilian immigrant population has changed from transitory to more stable and permanent.
For example, in Massachusetts, two grassroots organizations, the Brazilian Women’s Group and the Brazilian Immigrant Center, are celebrating their tenth anniversaries. In addition, between 2000 and 2004, figures show an increase in the number of Brazilian homeowners as well as business owners.
Brazilian press and media are also establishing a permanent presence in the U.S. In the metropolitan Boston area, Brazilians produce and support fourteen newspapers, 2 monthly magazines, and 2 websites.
Research suggests that Brazilian-owned businesses in New England may employ several thousand people. This contributes to the states’ job and consumer markets as well as to the state’s coffers.
Politically, the Brazilian community demonstrates a strong sign of its maturity and it has changed into a new minority group in the multicultural and multiethnic U.S. society. Brazilians have been working harder and harder to become a visible minority.
The Summit of Brazilian Leaders in the United States will be the first opportunity for community leaders from all over the U.S. to meet and discuss a common agenda to unify their efforts to improve the working and living conditions of Brazilian immigrants.
Maria Aguiar is the daughter of Brazilian immigrants. She was born and grew up in São Paulo, Brazil, and emigrated to the U.S. more than 30 years ago. She is Grassroots International Global Program Director working specifically with the Landless movement in Brazil and with Haiti.
Jorge Costa graduated from the University of São Paulo with a B.A. in History. He has lived in the U.S. for the past fifteen years and has been an effective advocate for the Brazilian community. He is the creator of the "Guia do Recém-Chegado," a brochure that helps recent immigrants identify organizations that serve Brazilians in the U.S. He is the current president of the Association Amigos Petistas no Exterior.
Heloísa Maria Galvão is the co-founder of the Brazilian Women’s Group and a Community Field Coordinator for Portuguese Speaking families for Boston Public Schools. She holds a MS in Print and Broadcast Journalism from Boston University. She is the author of "Language Loss and Language Gain in the Brazilian Community: The Role of Schools and Families", in Lifting Every Voice: Pedagogy and Politics of Bilingualism (Edited by Zeynep F. Beykont, Harvard Education Publishing Group, 2000) and "As Viajantes do Século Vinte: Uma História Oral da Mulher Brasileira na írea de Boston" (Travelers of the Twentieth Century: An Oral History of Brazilian Immigrant Women in the Boston Area), HP Comunicação, 2005
Dr. Clémence M. Jouët-Pastré is Senior Preceptor in Portuguese at Harvard University and Co-chair of the Brazil Studies Committee. Her research interests focus on migrations, intercultural communication, and multicultural education. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters and is the co-editor of Giving Voice to a Nascent Community: Exploring Brazilian Immigration to the U.S. through Research and Practice (with Loveless and Braga. DRCLAS, 2004).
Fausto da Rocha
Fausto Mendes da Rocha founded the Brazilian Immigrant Center in Allston in 1995 and has since worked as a leading community advocate on issues of legalization, workplace abuse, job discrimination, and deportation. He is currently acting as executive director of the Center, which has served more than 8,000 immigrants since its inception, with more than 500 immigrants coming in to the Center every month seeking information or assistance. He is a member of the Board of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.
Carlos A. Da Silva
Born in Minas Gerais, Brazil. Carlos A. Da Silva immigrated to the United States in 1988 and became an American ditizen in 1999 residing in Quincy, Massachusetts. Da Silva is the owner and operator of a cleaning and painting company called America 24/7 Building Services. He has an office in Quincy where he devotes one day a week to assist the Brazilian community. He is a member of the Board of Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) since 2001, the South Shore Chamber of Commerce, the Massachusetts Freemasons (WM of Logia America in Cambridge/MA), and the New England Brazilian Citizen Council of the Brazilian Consulate. He was a Business Agent for the Service Employee International Union Local 254 for eight years.
Carlos Eduardo Siqueira
Dr. Carlos Eduardo Siqueira is research assistant professor at the Department of Work Environment at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he has researched the political economy of the migration of hazards between developed and developing countries, and healthcare and immigrant workers’ work environment policy issues. He is a member of the Board of the Brazilian Immigrant Center and of the New England Brazilian Citizen Council of the Brazilian Consulate.
Claudia Tamsky graduated from the University of Amazonas in Brazil with a B.A. in Sociology and a specialization in marketing. She is a coordinator for the Joint Committee for Children’s Healthcare in Everett, which offers health insurance to residents of Everett and the Boston area. She also raises funds for organizations in Brazil. A sample of her writing can be found in "The State of Amazonas in Pieces" published in Cultural Survival Quarterly (Summer 2003).
Ilton Lisboa immigrated to the United States in the 1980s with his wife and three sons. He is a founder and vice-president of BRAMAS- Brazilian-America Association. Member of the Sister City (Framingham- Governador Valadares). He has been an active member of the Association Amigos Petistas no Exterior and Movement Brazil Legal. He is a Master of the Middlesex Lodge- Framingham. General Manager of Sodexho and partner of a Real Estate and Mortgage company.
Dr. James N. Green is Associate Professor of Brazilian History and Culture at Brown University, the former President of the Brazilian Studies Association, and the Chair of the Committee for the Future of Brazilian Studies in the United States. In 2003, he co-founded the Brazil Strategy Network, and is the National Co-Coordinator. His publications include Beyond Carnival: Male Homosexuality in Twentieth-Century Brazil (University of Chicago Press, 1999), and "We Cannot Remain Silent:" Opposition to the Brazilian Military Dictatorship in the United States, 1964-85 (Duke University Press, forthcoming).
Dr. Maxine L. Margolis is Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Florida in Gainesville. She is the author or co-editor of seven books, most recently, Little Brazil: An Ethnography of Brazilian Immigrants in New York City (Princeton University Press, 1994), An Invisible Minority: Brazilians in New York City (Allyn & Bacon, 1998), and True to Her Nature: Changing Advice to American Women (Waveland 2000).
Brazilian Organizations in the U.S.
Brazilian Women’s Group
The Brazilian Women’s Group is a volunteer-staffed organization founded in 1995 that provides grass-roots advocacy and leadership to the Greater Boston Brazilian community. The group’s mission of community leadership has been realized through identifying and providing needed services, facilitating discussion and information flow within the community, sponsoring events recognizing and celebrating Brazil’s diverse culture, and representing the Brazilian community in the larger context of U.S. society.
Brazilian Immigrant Center
The Brazilian Immigrant Center (BIC) is a ten-year old community-based organization working to empower Brazilians in the Greater Boston area with regard to issues of access to education, workplace rights and immigration. The BIC’s mission is to unite Brazilian immigrants to organize against economic, social and political marginalization and to help create a just society. BIC’s work is done through advocacy, education, organizing and leadership/capacity building.
Brazilian Rainbow Group (BRG)
The Brazilian Rainbow Group (BRG) is a not-for-profit advocacy, support, and representative organization of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Portuguese speakers. BRG provides information about counseling, testing and treatment of HIV/AIDS and other sexually-transmitted diseases in Portuguese. In a non-discriminatory environment, BRG fosters friendship, socialization, and education through seminars, workshops, and presentations to its members and friends.
The Brazil Strategy Network (BSN)
The Brazil Strategy Network is an independent association of academics, non-governmental organization activists, journalists, scholars, unionists, church groups, and other interested organizations and individuals who want to support the progressive measures of the Brazilian government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the social movements working for economic and social justice in Brazil.
Aliança Brasileira nos Estados Unidos
The Aliança Brasileira nos Estados Unidos (ABE) or Brazilian Alliance in the United States is a nonprofit and nonpartisan community-based organization located in Hartford, Connecticut, that has a humanitarian philosophy to advance and improve the well-being and quality of public life of Brazilians living in the United States.
Shaheen Brazilian Cultural Center
The Shaheen Brazilian Cultural Center was founded in September, 2004. It is a non-profit organization with a humanitarian philosophy which aims at improving the living conditions of the Brazilian community in the state of Connecticut, the United States, and Brazil through local and international help.
The Center’s purpose is to establish collaborative teamwork with other institutions such as the YMCA, the Parkville Community School, the Hartford High School, the Artist Collective, many religious groups, the City of Hartford, and the state of Connecticut.
The Shaheen Brazilian Cultural Center has created educational programs such as ESL (English as a Second Language), computer classes, and Portuguese classes for children and adults. The Center also offers sports programs such as soccer (futebol), Brazilian martial arts (capoeira), and a gymnasium with aerobic classes, weight lifting, and Brazilian dance.
Casa da Cultura Brasileira
The House of Brazilian Culture, located in Orlando Florida, was founded to create a meeting space to promote cultural events and deliver social services to Brazilian immigrants in Florida.
Updated schedule and program of the Summit can be found at www.braziliansummit.org.
Show Comments (2)