The Portuguese government announced on Saturday (13) that it had decided to postpone the cancellation of all flights with origin or destination in Brazil at least until March 1. The travel interruption, in effect since January 29, has left hundreds of Brazilians struggling to stay in the European country.
While when the border was first closed, in March 2020, most of those affected were unprepared tourists, this time with entry for people on walks having been prohibited since then, those affected are mainly migrants.
Many of these people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, are without the means to live in Portugal and were already planning their return to Brazil when the flights were canceled.
This is the case of Michael Corrêa, who was sacked in January, when the country’s second lockdown began. Your flight, initially scheduled for February 1, has already been canceled and rescheduled several times by the airline.
“I can’t stay here anymore, I live in favor. I don’t have money for anything, ”he says, who works in electrical engineering and says he has already found a new job in Brazil.
“I just need to go back to my country. I have already bought a ticket, I just want to be allowed to board. “
After three years and five months in Portugal, cashier Juci Santos has also decided to return to Brazil. In addition to being unemployed when the company she worked for closed with the pandemic, her husband also developed health problems, made worse by the cold.
Juci and her 15-year-old daughter had to stay in Portugal until the teenager finished her school term at the end of January. Both had tickets that were due to travel on January 29, just as the flight ban went into effect.
“On the 27th, we did the PCR to travel. When we got home and saw the news [da proibição de voos para o Brasil] on television we collapse, ”he says. Despite unforeseen financial circumstances, the family still has accommodation until the end of the month.
Other Brazilians, however, are in a much more difficult situation, even turning to food banks and NGOs for food. A group on WhatsApp brings together more than 200 people in this situation.
The group asked the Portuguese and Brazilian authorities to organize a repatriation flight from Portugal to any city in Brazil. Although the decree of the Portuguese government cancels all trade routes between the two countries, it allows humanitarian flights.
Under the rules of the current state of emergency in Portugal, all borders were closed as of January 31. Departures are only authorized in exceptional cases.
On Thursday 11, Parliament approved the renewal of the state of emergency, maintaining restrictions on entering and leaving the country until March 1.
In a note, Brazil’s foreign ministry says it is closely monitoring the situation of those affected and that consulates and the embassy “have attempted to provide possible assistance to Brazilians detained” in Portugal.
Itamaraty states that, for the moment, “repatriation flights at the expense of the Brazilian government are not planned, as the current suspension of flights comes under circumstances different from those verified in March and April 2020”.
In addition to suggesting constant monitoring of social media and consulate websites, the dossier also recommends that affected Brazilians contact airlines to reschedule their tickets or check “other routes to return to Brazil from the Schengen area. “.
In other words: embark for Brazil by connecting to other countries of the European Union that remain with regular flights to the country.
Many Brazilians were not comfortable with the official suggestion.
“They [consulado e embaixada] they can’t say anything. The only thing they tell us is to buy more tickets, to give R $ 7,000 or R $ 8,000 on other tickets that connect Madrid or Paris. Do they really think we can buy another ticket if we are already at our financial limit? », Inquires Mayara Letícia, from Pernambuco.
After living in Portugal for two years, she and her husband saw their return flight to Brazil canceled on February 5.
“Our ticket is one-way. We don’t want the government of Portugal or Brazil to pay or charter planes. We just want our right to go. The decree establishes that repatriation flights are authorized. So why hasn’t it happened yet? He said.
Weakened by a health problem, Talita Ribeiro, who also has a one-way ticket to Brazil, says the Brazilian authorities “continue to push for other routes, with several connections and many hours of travel”.
“For me, there are two aggravating factors that prevent me from taking these alternative routes. The first is that I spent over 1000 euros on tickets and I have no way to buy another one because the airline does not return the money immediately. The second is that my body is so fragile that I can hardly continue to carry my bags and my dog for hours on various connections, ”he explains.
Many Brazilians have expressed their dissatisfaction and asked for support in the social networks of consulates, embassies and even in the profiles of some politicians.
Meanwhile, a group of Portuguese detained in Brazil also asked Portuguese authorities for a repatriation flight. The government of Portugal, however, also states that there are no predictions for this to happen, at the moment.