Brazilians Returning Home Arrive Empty-Handed

As the U.S. economy tanked, many Brazilians have headed back home. (Photo via Brazilian Times)

Brazilian immigrants who made a living in the U.S. for years but lost their jobs in the economic downturn are heading home “with nothing in their pockets,” reports the Brazilian Times. The story below was translated from Portuguese.

A lot of Brazilians are leaving the United States. Such is the case of Fabio Brasil, 27, who at the end of 2011 left his life as a stonemason in the U.S. and started working in construction in Fernandes Tourinho, in the suburbs of Governador Valadares, state of Mato Grosso.

In the United States, a lot of construction companies closed their doors altering the life of workers like Brasil who made $20 an hour before he lost his job. He used his earnings to support his wife and two daughters in Brazil.

“I earn less now but I don’t regret coming back to Brazil. At least here I have a job, in the United States I got tired of looking for work,” said Brasil.

According to researchers Sueli Siqueira, the immigrants that return to Brazil find it difficult to start working in their hometowns.

“A lot of times these workers have experience but they have no way to prove it. In the old days, they would return home with some money and they would try to open a business. Today, most of these workers return with nothing in their pockets,” said Siqueira.

Jose Francisco Reis, 50, lived in the U.S. for seven years where he worked in construction. Reis was able to pay his debts and buy a house in his hometown but he returned with no savings. He lost his U.S. job last year, then got another job in Florida as a farmer just so he could buy his ticket back to Brazil.

“We thought that going to the United States would solve our problems. It helped us buying a house in our hometown but we expected more. We were hoping we would have some financial comfort. Now my husband doesn’t have a job, he can only find work occasionally,” said Reis’ wife, Marcilene Rezende, 48, who stayed back in Brazil.

Some Brazilian immigrants were also looking for opportunities in Europe. After living for 18 years in Madrid, Spain, Jane Torres lost her job and moved to Switzerland.

“I’m staying at a friend’s apartment. It is a very complicated situation as I don’t speak German. I have been helping my friend with her children and I earn some money babysitting. This is not what I want for my life though, I loved Spain and I loved my job,” said Torres.

Rafael Del Castillo, 29, also left Madrid in 2011. He arrived in Europe in 2007 when there were a lot of jobs available and a general sense of optimism.

“Nowadays, everyone is unhappy and with no hope. No one knows how they are going to survive this economic crisis,” said Del Castillo.

According to the Brazilian 2010 Census, the number of Brazilians that were living abroad and returned to Brazil was 174,597, which is almost double (98.6 percent) the number of returning Brazilians counted by the 2000 Census,  87,886.

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