As immigrants from “developing” countries, many of us have left our home nations in search for a “better” life in the “developed” west. We predominantly settle in countries in Europe and North America as we have been conditioned to believe that these countries will enable us to attain a better quality of education, superior jobs and thus, a better life. While for the most part, we are often very grateful for the opportunities having the ability to live ‘abroad’ afford us, we often fail to recognize and cherish the opportunities our very own “developing nations have to offer.
While many of us might not be willing to appreciate or fail to see the benefits our home countries have to offer, other emigrants from the lands of opportunity in the “developed” world are now taking advantage of them. Many educated young people from Portugal have become frustrated with the situation in their rather “developed” home country and have been immigrating to their country’s former colonies in Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, in hopes of being able to secure better jobs and thus a better life.
The irony of this role reversal is that while native Brazilians, Mozambicans and Angolans are looking to the west for a better life, their counterparts in the West are looking at their native country for the same outcome. Why do these “developing” countries possess that is attractive to young Portuguese men and women but remain unseen to most Brazilians, Mozambicans and Angolans?
Some may argue that unlike their counterparts who reside in these “developing” countries, Portuguese men and women have had the privilege of being able to acquire a higher education and bring much needed skills to these country’s development and infrastructure. If this is indeed the case, then why are we not insisting that the native inhabitants of these countries, who had had the privilege of acquiring a higher education abroad return home and help build their countries, as appose to possibly fostering a new form of colonialism – one that will see these arriving Portuguese in positions of position and power, while the local populations are forced to rely on the services they provide? While such a question is laden with hypocrisy, in that if many people in these developing countries were to ask the same question about immigrants who arrive, stay and thrive in their countries they will most like face backlash, it is still a valid question given the history of these “developing” countries being former colonies.
Labelled the countries “lost generation,” these young Portuguese men and women are seeking to take advantage of the rapid development being experienced in Brazil, Angola and Mozambique. Their desire to leave the benefits their home country has to offer (healthcare, education, rather developed infrastructure) has been propelled by the fact that unemployment rates among youths ages 16 and 25 in Portugal is an astounding 26.8 per cent. Despite their skills and education, many young people in Portugal are finding it very difficult to find jobs and make a better life for themselves. It has been estimated that only 156 visas were issued in 2006 to southbound Portuguese to Angola, while in 2010 that number jumped significantly to 23,787. This rise in visa being granted to Portuguese in Brazil also jumped by 60, 000 between 2009 and 2010.
While it is too early to see the impact the arrival of these Portuguese young men and women are having on the development and success of local Brazilian, Angolans and Mozambicans, governments should make a conscious effort to ensure that everyone is granted an equal opportunity to jobs and resources in their countries. They should embark on policies to ensure that these incoming Portuguese men and women are not granted preferential treatment because of their background of being natives of a former colonial power over equally educated and skilled local residents.