The lack of control of the pandemic in Brazil and the concern over the variants identified in the country are already making Brazilians living in Europe the subject of discrimination and offensive comments. They are accused of having spread Covid-19 across the continent.
In France, which last Tuesday (13) determined the temporary suspension of flights with Brazil due to the health situation, social networks are full of publications, videos and memes offensive to Brazilians, many are gathered under the hashtag #VariantBresilien (Brazilian variant).
The posts are aimed particularly at Brazilian women, with associations of prostitution, promiscuity and thong. There are also jokes about the accent and appearance of women.
With the country in lockdown, the assaults are mostly done online, but they aren’t limited to the virtual world.
In a video posted on Twitter, a man goes to a well-known district of transsexual prostitution in Paris, the Bois de Boulogne, and begins to wonder if the sex workers are Brazilian.
“Brazilian variant? Have you just arrived in France? “He asks.
The mention of the Bois de Boulogne and the prostitution of Brazilian women in the park are recurrent.
In a popular channel publication, an actor asks: “Flights between France and Brazil are suspended … And what about the Bois de Boulogne, what’s going on?”
Many who follow the posts have been taken aback by the comments. Reading the posts with the hashtag #VariantBresilien, a Brazilian who did not want to identify himself reports the existence of reasonable messages of concern regarding the Brazilian variant and, on the other hand, what he called the ” xenophobic horror show ”.
For him, Brazilians, in addition to being generally disapproved of, are now treated as international threats.
Some who tried to counter the attacks complain of persecution on social media.
A Brazilian researcher who lives in Paris and who has posted crimes on social media, for example, asks not to publish her name in the report for fear of further reprisals.
From Ireland, where around 50,000 Brazilians officially live, reports of discrimination also come with direct mentions of the pandemic in Brazil.
A significant portion of motorcycles and food delivery apps in the country are made up of Brazilians. In specialized forums, they report offensive comments about canceled orders.
“A client told me, in front of me, that the Brazilians are here spreading disease, that they have brought Covid-19. He screamed and asked me why I didn’t go back to my homeland, ”says Anderson Santos, in one of the posts.
In recent months, smugglers in general have been the target of violence and xenophobia. Gangs staged ambushes, taking the opportunity to attack and steal packages, bicycles and motorcycles.
The discussion of countries under mandatory quarantine also led to a wave of offensive comments, mostly aimed at Brazilians and South Africans.
“For me, parts of this debate [sobre quarentena] they smelled like xenophobia, ”Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said.
“I have heard people say that we have to protect our people from outsiders, that is not what it is,” he added.
The association of virus variants with the place where they are initially identified is criticized by the WHO (World Health Organization), which sees a risk precisely in the increase in stigma in relation to the places associated with the strains of SARS-CoV-2 .
“There should be no stigma associated with detecting these viruses, but unfortunately we still see it happening,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, a WHO epidemiologist.
Brazilians in Portugal, where direct flights with Brazil were suspended between January 29 and last Friday (16), also report episodes of discrimination.
In social media and in reports on the pandemic situation in Brazil, there are numerous accusations that Brazilians are bringing Covid-19 to the country.
A Brazilian from Minas Gerais, Portugal for two years, tells a support group that she was offended online at the supermarket after another customer identified her accent. According to her, the man said the Brazilians are only in the country to spread the coronavirus and take jobs from the Portuguese.
Shaken, she says the irregular situation in Portugal means that she does not have the courage to denounce the case or try to denounce the crimes.
Officials of the Brasileiras Não se Calam project, which collects reports of discrimination abroad, say they have noticed that in many cases in Portugal the pandemic serves as a justification for xenophobia.
These are statements such as “the pandemic only arrived in Portugal because of the Brazilians” or “I will not wear a mask because it is a [funcionária] Brazilian woman who asks ”.
Besides Brazilians, the Chinese community also reports an increase in cases of discrimination and assault.
In a detailed report by the weekly Expresso, Chinese from different age groups and social classes report episodes in which they have also been accused of spreading the coronavirus in the country.
“Since the start of the pandemic, I have started to feel more violence in the speech both in public space and on social networks”, declared the Portuguese-Chinese Michelle Chan, member of the NGO SOS Racismo, in a newspaper interview.
The latest epidemiological assessment of the country, published at a meeting at Infarmed (National Authority for Medicines and Health Products), indicates that the presence of variants is residual in Portugal.
So far, there are 29 confirmed cases of variant P.1 in the country, which equates to a prevalence of 0.4%. Also prevalent in Brazil, P.2 had a prevalence of 0.1%.
In March, the British variant accounted for 83% of cases in the country.
Originally reported as a good example of fighting the pandemic, Portugal saw the scenario change completely at the start of 2021. The country chose to ease restrictive measures during the Christmas period, which ended up contributing to a strong increase in the number of cases. and the dead.
Under pressure, the SNS (Portugal’s SUS) was on the verge of collapse and the country ended up asking for international aid for other EU countries.
On January 15, the country entered a lockdown. Now, with the numbers under control, deflation is underway. The reopening began on April 5 and will take place, in stages, until May 3.
Direct travel to Brazil has also resumed. After 77 days of suspension, last Friday, the government decided to allow commercial flights between Portugal and Brazil. Authorized shipments are still very limited.
Due to the pandemic, the entry of Brazilian tourists has been prohibited in the European Union since March 2020. Travel is only allowed for people with dual nationality or legal residence in a Member State, with some exceptions for trips classified as essential.
Trips of this type are considered as those allowing the transit or entry of citizens for professional, study, family reunification, health or humanitarian reasons.
In order to enter Portugal, in addition to meeting these requirements, Brazilians must present a negative PCR test, carried out 72 hours before departure and, as of last month, they are subject to a mandatory quarantine of 14 days after arrival.