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Brazil: Outrage of Brazilian Woman Deported from Spain

The deportation from Spain early this year of Brazilian holidaymaker Denise Severo, a 34-year-old university researcher, has once again raised the issue of immigration between the two countries.

Severo has written an open letter about her experience which has been widely disseminated by various bloggers, and prompted many reactions to her treatment by Spanish immigration authorities.

- "And what are  the  requirements to enter in your country?" -"Article one: Not to be a Brazilian." Cartoon by Amarildo, used with permission.

- "And what are the requirements to enter in your country?" -"Article one: Not to be a Brazilian." Cartoon by Amarildo, used with permission.

“Pure Prejudice”

Rogério Tomaz Jr., from the blog Conexão Brasília-Maranhão reproduced [pt] Severo's open letter, published on January 30, 2011, in which she explains what happened:

Acho que muitos de vocês sabiam que eu estava saindo de férias junto com minha amiga Gracinha para a Espanha. Pois bem, planejamos tudo, compramos passagem, reservamos hotel e tudo mais. Porém, fomos em vôos separados. Depois de 15 horas de viagem EU fui INJUSTAMENTE DEPORTADA pela imigração da Espanha! Fiquei 15 horas PRESA numa sala da polícia federal sendo tratada como criminosa! Sem direito à telefonema, sem nenhuma informação sobre os motivos pelo qual estava detida e somente depois de 7 horas tive contato com um advogado e uma tradutora. Fui revistada fisicamente e revistaram e retiveram minha bolsa e minha bagagem de mão, tudo isso antes de ter um advogado. Eles arbitrariamente decidiram que eu não entraria naquele país e fizeram de tudo para arranjar algo para me deportar.

I think many of you knew I was going on vacation with my friend Gracinha to Spain. Well, we had planned everything, bought the tickets, reserved the hotel and everything. However, we were on separate flights. After 15 hours of travel I was UNFAIRLY DEPORTED by the Spanish immigration authorities! I was detained for 15 hours UNDER ARREST in a room by the federal police, and treated like a criminal! I had no right to a phone call, no information about the reasons I had been detained, and I only had contact with a lawyer and translator after seven hours. I was physically searched and had my purse and hand luggage taken from me, all before I had seen a lawyer. They arbitrarily decided that I would not enter the country and did everything to find a reason to deport me.

Denise says that while being held without the right to an attorney, she shared a room with other detainees, all black or Latino, which she saw as a clear show of prejudice and xenophobia:

Havia cerca de 10 pessoas presas nesta situação e todas elas eram latinas e/ou negros da África!!!  Ou seja, é XENOFOBIA PURA!!!! Mas XENOFOBIA CONTRA LATINOS E NEGROS!!!! PURO PRECONCEITO!!!

There were about 10 people trapped in this situation [detention by immigration authorities] and they were all Latino and/or black Africans! Meaning that it is PURE XENOPHOBIA! But XENOPHOBIA AGAINST BLACKS AND LATINOS!! PURE PREJUDICE!

Blogger Tomaz Jr., commented on the difference in the way Brazilians treat tourists compared to Severo's experience in Spain:

Daqui a três anos o Brasil receberá muitos espanhóis que irão acompanhar a “Fúria” na Copa do Mundo. Como fazemos com todos os povos que nos visitam, iremos tratá-los muito bem, com hospitalidade e cordialidade. Mas é bom que o mundo saiba como a Espanha trata os visitantes de outros países que chegam para conhecer a terra de Miguel de Cervantes

In three years time, Brazil will play host to many Spaniards accompanying the “Fúria” [“Fury” – nickname of the Spanish football team] at the [2014] World Cup. As we do with all people who visit us, we will treat them very well, with warmth and hospitality. But it is good for the world to know how Spain deals with visitors from other countries who come to see the land of Miguel de Cervantes.

Isolated Incident?

- "Now, for a Spanish to enter Brazil, among all documentation, we demand that he knows how to dance samba." Cartoon by Lute, used with permission.

- "Now, for a Spanish to enter Brazil, among all documentation, we demand that he knows how to dance samba." Cartoon by Lute, used with permission.

The Spanish ambassador to Brazil, Carlos Alonso Zaldivar, has spoken about the case, stating that [pt], “An isolated incident cannot give rise to classify Spain as racist or say that we pursue the Brazilians at our airports.”

He added, giving the reasons for the deportation of Denise Severo:

O primeiro é que a sra. Severo, apesar da sua boa vontade, não dispunha de alguns dos documentos ou comprovantes necessários.
Segundo, porque não se usou adequadamente o mecanismo previsto para esses casos, mediante a intervenção do Consulado-Geral do Brasil em Madri.

Firstly Ms Severo, despite her good intentions, lacked some of the documents or proof needed [to enter the country].
Secondly, the proper mechanism for such a case, such as intervention by the General Consulate of Brazil in Madrid, was not utilised.

Despite Severo having proof – in the name of her friend – of a hotel booking and her Spanish police-appointed lawyer calling to confirm the reservation, and her being in possession of a TravelMoney card from the Banco do Brasil [Bank of Brazil], Ambassador Zaldivar stated [pt] that Denise did not have all the documents necessary to enter the country.

Simone Severo, Denise's sister, also published [pt] an open letter attacking the Spanish government, here reproduced by Blog do Nassif:

O Brasil devia exigir que a Espanha peca desculpas a Denise Severo e a todos os outros cidadaos que foram inescrupulosamente acusados de mentirosos e foram desrespeitados em seus direitos humanos.Eh preciso discutir, sim, eh preciso questionar, e porque nao dizer EXIGIR que o governo nos defenda. Afinal, nao eh para isso que se vota? Para que todos tenhamos os mesmos direitos e para que o pais nos defenda e olhe por nos?

O Brasil levou 50 anos lutando por democracia, por seu espaco no mundo e para ter voz. Que esta voz nao se cale, que ninguem baixe a cabeca, porque ninguem tem direito de brincar de policia e ladrao com a vida alheia do cidadao de bem, muito menos para escolher quem eh bandido.

Espanha: desculpe-se!

Brasil: mostra tua cara!

Brazil should demand that Spain apologize to Denise Severo and all other citizens who have been unscrupulously accused of lying and had their human rights trampled upon. One has to argue, question, and why not, DEMAND that the [Brazilian] government defend us. After all, is it not what we vote for? For all to have the same rights and for our country to defend us and look after us?

Brazil fought 50 years for its democracy, for its space in the world and to have a voice; that this voice may not be silent, that no one need lower their head, because nobody has the right to play cops and robbers with the life of another citizen, much less to choose who is a criminal.

Spain: apologize!

Brazil: show your face!

Denise Severo has answered Ambassador Zaldivar [pt] in a post reproduced by the blog Vi o Mundo (Saw the world) [pt], commenting on the way she was treated, the humiliation of being escorted as a criminal in a armored car to the plane, and of being held captive for 15 hours – 7 of which without any outside contact. She finished by asking if Spain respects human rights:

Evidentemente que todas as nações são soberanas para decidir quem entra ou não entra em seus territórios, mas os direitos humanos precisam ser garantidos.

[…]

Excelentíssimo Sr. Embaixador, gostaria de saber se tais atos refletem a garantia dos direitos humanos pela Espanha? Gostaria de saber se a Espanha concorda e avaliza tais atos da Polícia?

[…]

Por fim, uma pergunta não cala: será coincidência do acaso o fato de somente estar detidos latino-american@s e/ou negr@s?

Obviously, all nations decide who does or does not enter into their territory, but human rights must be guaranteed.

[…]

Dear Mr Ambassador, I wonder if these acts reflect the guarantee of human rights by Spain? I wonder if Spain agrees and endorses such acts by the police?

[…]

Finally, a persistent question: is it just a coincidence that only Latin American and/or blacks were detained?

She also spoke about the various concerns raised by the Ambassador, rebutting – point by point – the arguments that she was to blame for the treatment she had received.

The practice of deporting Brazilians from Spain is not uncommon [pt]. In 2009, one out of every five foreigners deported from the country was a Brazilian (21% of the total), and in 2008 the percentage was 23%. In February 2008, Brazil determined a policy of reciprocity given the large number of Brazilians deported without justification by the Spanish government.

At the time, former Brazilian President Luís Inácio Lula da Silva declared [pt]:

Domingo termina a eleição e no início da semana eu espero ter um a explicação do que houve. Isso pode ser coisa dos partidos conservadores que, se pudessem, não deixavam pobres de outros países entrarem na Espanha.

The election ends on Sunday and early in the following week I hope to have an explanation of what happened. This may be a thing of the [Spanish] conservative parties that, if they could, would not let the poor of other countries to enter Spain.

Marcos dos Santos, a Brazilian deported in 2008, declared [pt]:

Fomos tratados praticamente como animais, sem saber porque estava acontecendo aquilo com a gente

We've been treated practically like animals, without even knowing why that was happening to us

It remains unclear whether Spain will return to the practice of mass expulsion of Brazilians, or whether Brazil will respond, like last time this issue arose.

only after seven hours

1 comment

  • Peter Piper

    This post incorrectly states that the person was deported. She was not deported. Deportation is different. In order to be deported you must already be inside the country. She was ‘denied entry’ to Spain but not deported. I know it is of no consolation to the person who was denied entry. But I wish that news reports and blog posts would use the correct terminology.

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