Many Portuguese people do not understand that without immigration their country is doomed to disappear. This is the harsh reality that many, more out of ignorance than conviction, prefer to ignore.
Eduardo Lourenço, one of the most prominent Portuguese thinkers, once said that “immigration is the flip side of our expansion.” Now… the time to pay has arrived. It is ongoing counter-colonization.
Portugal, known for its history of navigators, today lives an opposite reality, where “discoverers” arrive from foreign lands, carrying with them not only their suitcases and their dreams, but also the vital renewal for the sustainability of the Portuguese nation.
Facts matter. Brazilians, together with other immigrants, have contributed immensely to the robustness of Portuguese Social Security. It is no exaggeration to say that they are among the pillars that support the country’s economic edifice. In numbers, we are talking about more than €1.6 billion in profit directly related to the activities of foreigners. Without this workforce, vital sectors of the Portuguese economy would simply collapse.
But another reality emerges in everyday experiences. Portugal, which is proud of its discoveries and its history of connection with the world, has demonstrated an alarming increase in cases of racial discrimination and xenophobia. From 2017 to 2022, cases of xenophobia against Brazilians soared by 833%. Not to mention the racist attacks that worry the African community living in the country.
They are two sides of the same coin. On the one hand, we have a palpable and growing contribution of immigrants to the Portuguese economy, strengthening the social security system and filling gaps in the job market. On the other, a wave of xenophobia and racism that undermines the social integration of these same individuals who contribute so much.
This is an irony that borders on the absurd. The same Portugal that is proud of its history of discovery does not seem to recognize the value of those who, today, are pioneering the opposite path, crossing oceans in search of a better life.
Despite many differences, Brazilians, with their contagious joy and willingness to work, are helping to build a more prosperous Portugal, but in return, they face invisible barriers of prejudice and exclusion. This is not acceptable.
Portugal needs to understand that immigration, being an economic necessity, is much more than that. It is an opportunity to enrich your culture, your society, your spirit and rejuvenate your habits and ways.
It may even be that Portugal’s chancellor believes that attacks against Brazilians are “statistically insignificant”, but each case publicized is a portrait of the pain that fellow citizens should not go through.
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