Skip to comments.Brazilian soap opera 'America' is their story
Posted on 05/08/2005 2:16:17 PM PDT by Maceman
On a rainy Saturday night, in a two-story house in downtown Milford, a group of six Brazilian immigrants gathered in front of the television to watch what, for most of them, is the story of their lives.
Titled "America," a Brazilian soap opera produced by Rede O Globo, Brazil's largest broadcaster, tells the saga of Sol, a young Brazilian woman who, after failing to obtain a U.S. tourist visa, crosses the U.S.-Mexican border to live in the land of her dreams as an illegal immigrant.
The soap opera, or novela in Portuguese, strikes a chord with the Brazilian community in the region, where the episodes are closely followed and have become one of the main topics of conversation in churches, hair salons and other places where Brazilians socialize. Unofficial estimates say between 150,000 and 230,000 Brazilians live in Massachusetts. Many of them are undocumented.
The story of the Brazilian illegal immigrant is a story they know well. All but two of those gathered in front of the television are illegal immigrants. At different times over the past five years, they jumped the Mexican border after paying an average of $10,000 to a smuggling ring that operates in Brazil, Mexico and the United States. Like the protagonist in the novela, who grew up poor in a slum in Rio de Janeiro, they felt they didn't have a future in Brazil.
For them, none of whom wanted to be identified with their full names for fear of immigration authorities, the soap opera shows, with some accuracy, the risks of crossing the border and the difficulties of living in the shadows as an illegal immigrant. But their stories could easily become the plot of many soap operas or movies.
Alex, 26, came to Milford after crossing the Mexican border in the trunk of a car with two other Brazilians. He waited 26 days in a house in Tijuana to make the trip. For him, the soap opera shows parts that are true and parts that are exaggerated.
Marcelo, 42, crossed the desert in three days, during which he experienced fear, thirst and hunger. He started the journey with 100 people in Sonora, and only 15 made it. Many were caught by the border patrol and others got lost in the desert.
Luciana, 37, a seamstress in Brazil, came here with a fake name accompanying a 15-year-old boy who pretended to be her son. She and the boy were caught by the border patrol after crossing the border and let go by an immigration judge, after they promised to show up in court when they were summoned to appear. They never did.
Antonio, 46, thought he was going to die in the desert. He was also caught by the border patrol and let go by an immigration judge.
"You don't know what can happen to you," he said. "I was afraid the coyotes were going to kill me or abandon me in the desert."
Sitting on the floor in the living room, Alex, Marcelo, Luciana and Antonio watched with interest a recent episode, in which two smugglers were transporting the Brazilian woman from Texas to Miami after helping her cross the U.S. Mexican border, hidden in a car.
But while the soap opera deals with a theme close to their hearts, they watch it mainly because it's one of Brazilians' favorite pastimes. Novelas are deemed an important aspect of Brazilian culture along with soccer, samba and carnaval. Watching novelas allows Brazilians living abroad to keep a close link to their homeland.
"I watch three novelas," said Antonio. "It's a way to preserve my roots."
The novela is aired in Brazil in prime time, from Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m., and has become a hit in Brazil, a country with 2 million, or 1 percent of its population, living abroad. Brazilians in the United States, who number approximately 1 million, follow the program through their satellite dishes.
On its Web site (www.america.globo.com) the novela warns of the risks of crossing the Mexican border and recommends that people come to the United States legally. While some worry that the program may stimulate Brazilians to emigrate to the United States, others downplay the impact of the novela on their fellow men and women.
"Those who want to come, will come, with novela or without novela," said Darlene, a legal Brazilian immigrant who owns the Milford house.
None of the Brazilian illegal immigrants interviewed recommends that someone follow in their steps, but they all said the risks they took were worthwhile.
"Brazil is my homeland, but it's here where I feel I can achieve what I want," said Alex, who shortly after working for a construction company was able to buy a motorcycle, something he always wanted. "This is the land where you can make your dreams come true."
( Liz Mineo can be reached at 508-626-3825 or firstname.lastname@example.org. )
Oh geeze....now SOUTH America's sending illegals? Someone wake me when DHS, INS and GWB have a clue.....no, wait. As I was. I don't want to sleep THAT long!
So, Alex, why don't you go back to freakin' Brazil and make your dreams come true there?!
Oh, I forgot, Brazil is a p1$$hole because it is full of Brazilians.
No JOBS or MOTORCYCYLES in Brazil ??? PLEASE give us a break !! This article is BULLSH*T
I find it amazing that once these Third Worlders get such basic amenities as clean drinking water and a sewer system, they get all teary-eyed for a Motherland that crapped on them so badly it drove them to take desperate measures.
The immigrants of my dad's generation (legals) didn't want ANYTHING to do with the Old Country. They WANTED to become Americans. This new bunch (illegals) just want to LIVE like Americans while glorifying the cesspools they fled.
Invade America and make American's nightmares come true.
My dad fled England after World War II, when Old Labour was in its ascendancy and private enterprise was being savagely undermined. He is absolutely scathing about the place, and long ago became an American citizen with zero desire ever to return.
We have always got the best of other countries' people, but I fear now we are getting more and more dregs who really should not be made welcome. I'm all in favor of high levels of immigration, but legally, and with greater favoritism shown towards those with higher skills and a better grasp of the English language.
Latin Americans are hard working conservative Christians, with some experience with democracy, however imperfect. I don't think people who condemn all Mexicans are correct. I would fortify the border, and increase legal immigration quotas substantially. But letting ignorant savages from the Muslim world come here to collect welfare with their four wives and thirty kids is a recipe for disaster.