From Teresa Paglione about Italian Immigration to Brazil

Wednesday, February 09, 2005
No - they weren't slaves - or indentured servants. They were escaping Europe's problems as well as contracting for work and land.

I pulled this off the net:

Brazil's emperors sought to attract European immigrants to the south of the country by offering them plots of land that they were entitled to work as smallholders. German immigrants were the first to come. They were followed in 1870 by Italians. Between them, these two groups came to comprise the majority of the population in the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. The main influx of immigrants, though, began in earnest in the mid-1880s and it took a very different shape. São Paulo State became the focal point for immigration. This was coupled with a change in the basic purpose of Brazil's immigration policy.

The aim was no longer to attract families to set up smallholdings but instead to hire hands to tend the coffee plantations, which were in their heyday. The decision to take on immigrant labourers en masse stemmed from the urgent need to replace Negro slaves following the demise of the slave trade and the abolition of slavery (1888).
The decision to resort to immigrant labour coincided with a wave of mass overseas emigration that swept across Europe from the mid-XIXth century to the outbreak of the First World War. This wave of emigration was set in motion by socio-economic transformations under way in several European countries. It was further facilitated by the spread of steam shipping and the consequent drop in the cost of sea passages. The arrival of the first large groups of immigrants triggered a chain reaction, settlers in the new land persuading relatives and friends to follow suit. This significantly swelled the tide of immigrants.

In the Americas, the United States, Argentina and Brazil (in descending order) were the countries that received most immigrants. In Brazil's case, statistics show that 4.5 million people emigrated to the country between 1882 and 1934. Of this total, 2.3 million disembarked as third-class passengers at the port of Santos in São Paulo State. These figures do not include those travelling in the first and second classes. It should, however, be noted that in some years a large number of immigrants made the journey back to Europe. When crisis struck the coffee industry in São Paulo (1903-1904), for instance, net immigration turned negative.

A distinguishing feature of immigration in São Paulo until 1927 was the fact that it was often subsidized, especially in the early stages. This contrasted sharply with the form of immigration in the United States and, to a certain extent, in Argentina. The subsidy consisted of a free sea passage for a family group and free transportation to the plantations. This was a sure way of attracting poor immigrants to a country whose climate and sanitary conditions were hardly alluring.

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2/09/2005 02:40:00 PM :: ::
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