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Brazzil - Culture - March 2004

Portugal, a Brazil Colony

Wandering around the streets of Lisbon, you will eventually bump
into a Brazilian. It might be a waiter at the neighborhood café or
one of the 700 thousand Brazilian tourists who visit Portugal
every year. Portugal breathes Brazil. Portugal is, by far, the
country where Brazilian culture is consumed the most.

Pedro Cid

According to the latest statistics, there are now 100,000 Brazilians living legally in Portugal. This is due, mostly, to a new law signed July 2003 by Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Portuguese Prime Minister José Manuel Durão Barroso, during Lula's first trip to European countries.

For many Brazilians, Portugal has become a new America, in fact, some say that this new vague of migrants towards the terrinha, as Brazilians like to call Portugal, is connected to the strong barriers imposed by the US government, in recent years, to Brazilian citizens willing to enter the United States and to the rippling tide of anti-American feeling in Brazil, right now.

Apart from some sporadic cases, most Brazilians actually make it in Portugal and adapt to the Portuguese society. Many Brazilian are actually very successful, as the following names can attest to: Ed Mota (publicity), Cardoso e Cunha (president of TAP-Air Portugal), Scolari (soccer coach), and Deco (soccer player), amongst many others.

Wandering around the streets of Lisbon, you will eventually bump into a Brazilian. It might be someone working at a shoe-store or the waiter at the neighborhood café. It might also be one of the 700 thousand Brazilian tourists who visit Portugal every year. Portugal breathes Brazil. In fact, I daresay Portugal is, by far, the country where Brazilian culture is consumed the most.

The Portuguese are very receptive to Brazilian culture, mostly due to Brazilian soap-operas being played in Portugal. This telenovela phenomenon is quite big and the audience rates are extremely high. Oporto's daily Jornal de Notícia even published a story called "Portugal Clonizado" making the obvious jeu-de-mots: clonizado = colonizado = colonized. (O Clone is a recent and very famous Brazilian soap-opera).

Is this true? Is Portugal being "clonized" by Brazil? Looking at the latest Portuguese Top Charts, we can find many Brazilian artists making it to the Top 10. 90 percent of these artists have already given at least one concert in Portugal and many have made tours around the country. Very recently, even Maria Rita, who is at the beginning of her (hopefully very long) career, gave two magnificent concerts in Portugal to public and critics acclaim.

But this "clonization" process doesn't stop here. The streets are also full of billboards announcing Brazilian Concerts and even Brazilian Theatre plays. Brazilian TV entertainer Jô Soares was recently at the CCB (Centro Cultural de Belém) in Lisbon, and his show was sold out soon after tickets went on sale.

Even Brazilian movies started to make its way into the Portuguese mainstream, with films such as Cidade de Deus (City of God) and Deus É Brasileiro (God Is Brazilian) competing side-by-side with American films in many of the most important theatres of the country.

This new re-approximation of both countries, however, is not just one-way. Figures show that there are 4 million Portuguese Internet users, as opposed to "just" 13 million Brazilians. This apparently uninteresting and irrelevant fact has helped bringing Portugal into Brazilian homes. Many of the web's main search engines put the Portuguese and the Brazilian websites in the same bag.

A Brazilian will very likely browse through Portuguese websites, Internet Forums or Portuguese online newspapers. As the Portuguese/Brazilian rate is much, much higher on the Web than in "real life", Portuguese lifestyle and Portuguese ways and more importantly, Portuguese culture are more exposed and visible to Brazilian internauts.

Portuguese Community

No wonder there has been a lot of interchange between Brazilians and Portuguese on the Web. One has just to browse through the Portuguese or Brazilian blogosphere to see how participative Brazilians are in the Portuguese blogs, and vice-versa. The most famous Portuguese blogger of all times Omeupipi - http://omeupipi.blogspot.com/ - is read and enjoyed by many Brazilians, and thousands of them have left messages and comments in this blog.

Air Portugal is now the European company with more daily flights to Brazil. This is what they say in their Brazilian webpage. However truthful or not this information might be, the fact is many Portuguese now choose Brazil as their main tourist destination. Recently, many flights to Brazil have to be booked with at least two or three months in advance to get a reasonable price. During the holiday periods (Christmas and Easter, for example) most of the flights are completely full.

Many Portuguese choose the regions of the Nordeste (Northeast) for their summer holidays and a lot of Portuguese tourist agencies are now opening new branches in this region and operating from Brazil rather than from Portugal. A lot of Brazilian hotels have also been bought by Portuguese entrepreneurs. As a consequence , many upper-middle class Portuguese now have a beach house in Brazil. These figures seem to be growing every year.

Maybe Portugal is too small when compared to Brazil. Nevertheless, Brazilians are actually beginning to notice the Portuguese, to consume their culture and to see them besides the rural, ignorant and laid-back rude people, an image that persisted in the country for so many years.

People say globalization has brought too many bad and good things. Its contribution to the development of our societies is, of course, arguable. However, it has, for sure, re-approximated the Portuguese and the Brazilians a lot more and a lot faster than the many unsuccessful government fiats during decades of mutual oblivion.

Not all is wonderful though. Figures show that the trade between the two nations is quite ridiculous. Brazilians tend to forget that Portugal is a natural consuming market of their products. A good example of Brazilian exports that worked is guaraná, the soft drink, which is now sold virtually everywhere in Portugal.

Earlier this month, during the VII Luso-Brazilian Summit, Prime Minister Durão Barroso urged Brazilian companies to invest in Portugal. Only the future will tell it they are going to heed his appeal.

Portuguese-born Pedro Cid likes to picture himself as a multifaceted citizen of the world. He is currently living between Paris (France) and Oporto (Portugal), desperately trying to finish his PhD. Contact him at pedro_cid@mail.pt

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