URBANITIES - Volume 3 | No 2 - November 2013 - page 5


Vol. 3


No 2


November 2013

© 2013

Brazil, a new Eldorado for Immigrants?:
The Case of Haitians and the Brazilian Immigration Policy
Sidney Antonio da Silva
The presence of Haitian immigrants in the Brazilian Amazon after 2010 is a new development that challenges both
researchers and governments in terms both of understanding the phenomenon and responding to their needs. Based
on ethnographic material collected at the Tri-border region and in Manaus, the author raises key questions about the
Haitian presence in the region and asks why Brazil came to be an emigration option for them. From this perspective,
the paper asks; Is Brazil becoming a new Eldorado for skilled and unskilled immigrants? Some implications of this
new phenomenon for Brazilian society are considered, with particular attention to the country’s immigration policy.
Key words
: Immigration policy, Haitians, Brazilian Amazon, labour market
Early in 2010 there was, in a short period of time, a significant flow of Haitian mmigrants
requesting refugee status over Amazon borders. This new development in the region has
challenged both civil society and the Brazilian government. The refugees have urgent needs, such
as food, housing and employment, that must be cared for. A legal status is also required in order
to guarantee these immigrants the possibility of staying in Brazil and exercising some citizenship
Considering that Brazil had not previously been among Haitians’ migration options, we
should ask why they have selected Brazil as a new emigration target. Is the country truly
becoming a new ‘Eldorado’ for immigrants, offering them better opportunities of labour, whether
they are skilled or not? This study considers some implications of the presence of this new group
for Brazilian society, and particularly for the country’s current immigration policy.
The data analyzed here were collected through field work conducted at different times and
in different contexts. In late 2011, at the Tri-Border region (of Brazil, Colombia, Peru), where the
city of Tabatinga (AM) is located I observed the Haitians’ long wait, from one to three months,
to be received at the Federal Police offices. In Brasiléia (AC), the situation was not different,
which contributed to the permanence of a large number of Haitians there. In April 2013, I visited
the lodging facilities designed for the Haitians in Brasiléia, where more than one thousand waited
in precarious conditions for the documents that would allow them to continue their travel in
Brazil. Over the second academic term of 2011 and in the first term of 2012, a group of students
and researchers who participated in an project of the Anthropology Department of the Amazonas
Federal University collected data in various neighbourhoods of Manaus. A total of 254 randomly
selected Haitians were interviewed. In Manaus,140 people were interviewed – 118 men and 22
women – from a total of over 1,000 Haitians who lived in the city until early 2013. In Tabatinga
An earlier version of this article was presented at the International and Interdisciplinary Conference on
Issues of Legitimacy: Entrepreneurial Culture, Corporate Responsibility and Urban Development
’ held
in Naples, Italy on 10-14 September 2012. The Institute Brazil Plural (IBP) supported my research.
1,2,3,4 6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,...165
Powered by FlippingBook