For two years in a row, now, 2009 and 2010, Brazilians have been at the top of the list of foreigners refused entrance at European Union airports. In 2010, Brazilians were sixth on the list of foreigners arrested without proper documents in Europe.
Over 13,000 Brazilians were found living illegally in the EU, most of them in Portugal, Spain and France. According to the European agency for border control (Frontex), in 2010 slightly over 6,000 Brazilians were barred at EU airports (12% of all those barred).
Almost 30% of the Brazilians barred at airports were trying to disembark in Spain (1,813 cases). Another 673 were barred at French airports.
The reasons for barring the Brazilians were mainly ambiguous travel plans or inability to prove they could cover the costs of staying in Europe. For example, EU immigration officials require travelers to show they have at least 60 euros per each day of their intended stay.
The number of citizens being turned away has put Brazilian authorities on alert and they are preparing measures to reduce the problem.
"We have not been officially informed of these numbers," says Maria Luiza Ribeiro Lopes da Silva, a diplomat who heads the Consular Department at the Foreign Ministry where a desk for Brazilians Abroad is located.
"What we do have are complaints from Brazilians who believe they have been treated unjustly in one way or another."
Last year, Brazilian officials met with European colleagues to draw up ground rules so as to avoid embarrassing situations for visitors. The idea is get police and immigration agents familiar with cultural differences and prepare consular officers for eventual problems.
At the same time, the Itamaraty (Foreign ministry) has prepared a booklet with a list of recommended steps that Brazilians planning to visit, work or study in Europe should take to avoid any difficulties. According to Itamaraty, the idea is to make Brazilians aware of the possible problems they may face upon arrival in Europe.
Itamaraty stresses that any Brazilian who feels victimized by prejudice or arbitrary action has the right to consular assistance. In Brazil, further information for travelers can be obtained at 61-3411-6456. For Brazilians abroad, the number to call is 55-61-3411-8803. Information is also provided on the Internet at www.portalconsular.mre.gov.br
Over 13 million Brazilians moved upward into the A, B and C socio-economic classes during a 21-month period ending this May. They were 13.3 million, according to a study entitled "The Emerging of the Emerging," by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation (FGV).
"A transformation of great magnitude is taking place in Brazil." said Marcelo Neri, from the FGV, the man who coordinated the study. He attributes the transformation to increased income since 2003 and a corresponding, consistent drop in inequality for a whole decade.
Neri says the reasons for less inequality and more income are economic stability and inflation control. Another important factor has been better education in Brazil, he adds.
"FGV calculations show that improvements in education alone, as a constant factor, have raised income by around 2.2 percentage points annually. Education policy is the principal underlying reason for this social ascendancy," declared Neri.
The FGV study found a recent spike as the upper classes (A and B) expanded 12.8%, and the C class got 11.1% bigger. However, a longer look, over the period since 2003, shows a bigger shift: over 48 million Brazilians moved upward.
Neri says there was a significant shrinking in the lowest rungs on the social ladder: the D and E classes. In 2003, there were over 96 million Brazilians at the bottom of the pyramid. Today they number around 63.6 million.
On the other hand, the size of the C class went from 45 million to over 105 million. And he explains the main reason for the reduction in the size of the lowest, E class, was the government subsidy program for the very poor, Bolsa Família.
As for the expansion of the middle class (C ) it has been going on since the mid 1990s, when the Real Plan was implanted and brought inflation under control, concluded Neri.