Portuguese emigration after World War II

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Portuguese Emigration After World War II (essay) The northern Portuguese landscape is dotted with old houses that are architecturally exotic, with plenty of small, picturesque towers and innumerable decorative elements. One also finds new houses, architecturally reminiscent of northern European cottages, with black roofs and large windows. Then there are expensive suburban houses, which their owners have covered with colorful tiles. A significant number of these are currently being built or enlarged. These are the houses of former or present-day emigrants. The older ones are known as Brazilian houses and the more recent as French houses. Seemingly out of context, they dot the traditional landscape and constitute the most obvious material evidence that emigration has been a

constant feature of modern Portuguese life. Although Portuguese migrated to the United States, Venezuela, Germany, and Luxembourg (to name just a few of the countries where sizable Portuguese immigrant communities have settled historically), the labeling of these houses is rooted in the country’s migratory experience. Up to the 1950s, Brazil received more than 80 percent of Portuguese migratory flows, and France approximately half from that period on. The objective of this chapter is to present a general overview of the Portuguese migratory experience from World War II to the 1980s. It is, however, important to emphasize that Portuguese migration has been a significant historical process for centuries, one that has changed not only the country’s landscape but also its way of

life and its people’s mentality. The analysis presented here is based on the assumption that Portuguese emigration is essentially an international labor flow, which has changed according to the demand for labor in the international market of the macro geographical system to which the country belongs. Its evolution has depended not only on the potential migrants’ assessment of available rewards for labor abroad, but also on the political sanctioning of the “recipient” nations and the strength of the migrant network active at both ends of the trajectory. Migration Policies: The Legal Framework The Marshall Plan gave Western Europe the means with which to launch its postwar economic recovery. 1 Southern Europe and other peripheral regions covered the initial labor shortages

resulting from war casualties, and later substituted native labor in the so-called dirty and low-paid jobs. Thus, between 1958 and 1973, the six countries of the European Economic Community issued eight million first work permits to facilitate a mass transfer of labor from the peripheral south to the industrialized north of Europe. It was only from the 1960s on that Portugal began to participate substantially in this intra-European transfer of labor. This can be shown with an analysis of foreign arrivals in France between 1950 and 1974. France was a major destination for migration in this period and the preferred destination for Portuguese emigrants. Between 1950 and 1959, Italians represented more than half of the total foreign inflow. In 1960, Spaniards equaled the number of

Italians entering France, with each of these nationalities contributing 30,000 migrants to a total of 72,600 arrivals. The Spaniards replaced the Italians as France’s main suppliers of foreign labor from 1961 to 1965, and were in turn replaced by the Portuguese from 1966 to 1972. From 1962 on, Portugal’s share grew constantly. In 1970 and 1971, Portuguese migration peaked. In an overall total of 255,000 arrivals in 1970 and 218,000 in 1971, the Portuguese contribution represented 53 percent (136,000) and 51 percent (111,000 migrants) respectively. 2 The Portuguese did not simply replace the Italians and the Spaniards numerically; they also took up jobs left vacant by them in public works, construction, and the domestic and personal service sectors, as well as in agriculture.