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17/08/2010 - 12:18hs

The community of ‘Brazlebanese’

São Paulo – The Brazilians who live in Lebanon are part of the history of immigration that started in the early 20th Century. They are not pilots, stewards, executives or football players, but, in general, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren or wives of Lebanese immigrants who once lived in Brazil.

Researcher Roberto Khatlab calls the community “Brazlebanese”, a neologism for these binational citizens. The embassy of Brazil in Beirut estimates that there are 15,000 Brazilians in Lebanon, with 9,000 registered at the consulate.

Roberto Khatlab/Personal images
Roberto Khatlab/Personal images

Brazilian children at Dari centre

“Lebanese immigration (to Brazil) started in the 19th century and still continues. This newest immigration, of Muslim origin, is also received by relatives, like the Brazilians who come to Lebanon to prosper," said diplomat Roberto Medeiros, of the embassy of Brazil in Beirut.

In the region of Bekaa Valley, located 30 kilometres away from Beirut, for example, is one of the largest communities of “Brazlebanese”, as it was the region from where most Lebanese left to Brazil. According to Khatlab, most of the people who live in the region speak Portuguese and eat rice and beans (the Brazilian staple diet).

According to Medeiros, the expatriates were received in Lebanon as Brazilians and, also, as Lebanese – as they are descendants of Lebanese citizens who migrated – which probably causes them not to feel such need of stating their Brazilian nationality. However, there are a small and informal number of Brazilian associations among the members of the community who are interested in promoting Brazilian culture.

"We, from the embassy, are trying to make the Brazilian culture in Lebanon more dynamic, and are developing means to have a greater presence and feed the interest of the community," he said. According to him, last year the embassy promoted, with the collaboration of private sponsors, the largest Brazilian carnival in the country, with over 75,000 people in several streets. Medeiros added that the embassy is involved in several projects and agreements with Brazil that seek further promotion of the Brazilian culture in Lebanon.

Other examples of actions and programs that have been developed by the embassy and by volunteer groups are the Latin American Library of Saint-Espirit University, which contains books in Spanish and Portuguese, and themes of Latin America, and the creation, this year, of Dari Centre, a site for Brazilian children to interact and relate better to the customs of Brazil.(Marina Sarruf. Translated by Mark Ament)

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