Saudade: News from and for the Brazilian community/Notícias de e para a comunidade brasileira

The Brazilian consulate visits the Island.


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In September, Jane Sampaio, the other Portuguese teacher at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, and I went to a conference for Portuguese teachers at UMass Dartmouth, where we met the Brazilian consul general, Glivânia de Oliveira, from the Brazilian consulate in Boston. Jane and I had long discussed the necessity of a Brazilian Citizenship Day, so that our students could understand Brazilian laws and what it means to be a dual citizen, what are the benefits, obligations, and such.

As I reported back in August during my three weeks in Brazil, getting Brazilian documents, IDs, and certificates can be quite costly as well as bureaucratic, and it requires endless patience. In my experience, getting such documents through the consulate can at times be easier and faster.

During our conference, we approached Ms. de Oliveira and explained the need for information and easy access to the embassy, how our students don’t have access to driver’s licenses, cars, how costly it can be if you don’t have a car registered with the Steamship Authority, and just how crucial it is to inform these Brazilian citizens about their duties and such.

In my Portuguese classes, we often discuss how our obligations as Brazilian citizens don’t end because we moved to a foreign land. The corruption and the lack of a decent public educational system are among many issues Brazilians living in Brazil deal with on a regular basis, and are some of the reasons why so many of us chose to leave our home country to pursue better lives. Brazilians everywhere can still hold those in power accountable by voting. I also constantly remind my students that it is such a privilege to vote, and to come from a country that now allows such a right. After all, when I was born in 1983, Brazil was still a dictatorship.

Often, my students also don’t know that voting in Brazil is not a choice but an obligation, and there are implications to not voting.

Once a Brazilian citizen moves to another country, he or she can transfer their voting registration to the consulate that has jurisdiction over where they reside, which means that then they can continue to vote for president. If you live in Brazil, you have to vote in all of the elections: mayors, senators, governors, etc. Once the voting registration is transferred, Brazilian citizens only have to vote for president. If they fail to do so, they can be fined by the Brazilian government.

Even if a Brazilian citizen chooses not to vote for a specific candidate, they will still need to go to the consulate in Boston and put that on their ballet. We have to do that so we don’t accrue fees and we’re not prohibited from renewing our passports or being able to get a loan.

Given all of this and more, we are thrilled that the Brazilian consulate will be at MVRHS this coming Friday. The consulate intends to offer a legal clinic to the parents of the students, especially on immigration and family law issues, and will also have a psychologist to discuss any topics considered necessary by the Brazilian parents and their children. They will have workshops for our students, inform them about all of the documents they must have, and walk them through the process. Most students will be able to register to vote, and do so next year; Brazilians can begin to vote at 16, and once they turn 18, then it becomes law. On Friday, the consulate’s representatives will assist the students and their families, and on Saturday they will help the rest of the Island Brazilian community.

As I was creating a list of the potential students who might need the consulate’s services, I was surprised to see that out of the 637 students the high school currently has, 110 are either Brazilian natives or dual citizens. I hear that at the Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs schools, the numbers are even higher.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the many people who have made all of this possible: Sara Dingledy, our principal; the ELL teachers at the high school, Dianne Norton and Chery Cluff; Caroline Flanders from Brush, Flanders & Moriarty, LLC, for sponsoring the rooms for consulate employees at MV Housing; the many Brazilian Islanders providing breakfast and lunch for the consulate’s employees; and Meire Nunes, who is always an active member of the Brazilian community and continues to promote the consulate’s visits as well as help Brazilian Islanders schedule times to obtain the documents they need, answer questions related to fees. etc.; and lastly to all of our Portuguese students who will be volunteering at the events.

In the next column I am looking forward to relating how the event went, sharing what should be an abundance of information with our students.