FEATURE-Biting crisis drives Portuguese to Brazil, Angola

miércoles 14 de marzo de 2012 15:18 CET

By Axel Bugge and Eduardo Simões

LISBON/SAO PAULO, March 14 (Reuters) - Graduates scouring newspapers' recruitment pages amid Portugal's worst recession in memory are increasingly opting for the chance of a better life in the former colonies of Angola and Brazil.

Portugal flourished as a global power with explorers like Vasco da Gama and Pedro Alvares Cabral building an empire which lasted for 600 years. Now a new wave of adventurers is once again seeking work, and hopefully fortune, elsewhere.

"Portugal's crisis is just getting worse, so I came to try my luck in Brazil," said Fernando Silva, 49, whose snack bar in an Amazon town has enjoyed success selling "bolinho de bacalhau" cod cakes. "Here things are much better."

Portugal was forced to take a 78-billion-euro bailout from the European Union and IMF last year due to its debt crisis, sparking its deepest recession since the transition to democracy in the 1970s - the last time there was a major wave of emigration, to other parts of Europe.

In recent years, Portugal has been a magnet for immigrants from its former colonies and other African nations but as Lisbon struggles to navigate the turbulent straits of the Euro zone crisis, that trend has been reversed.

Emigrating is fast becoming a preferred option for many seeking a decent living as their bailed-out economy suffers under debt, low growth and poor competitiveness. Portugal's booming ex-colonies in Africa and Brazil are a natural choice.

Portugal's unemployment is at a record 14 percent. For the young, joblessness is much worse, at 35 percent, and there is little hope for a sharp, job-generating recovery any time soon.

Silva, is one of those who quit Portugal's crisis and set off 14 months ago to Brazil, armed with his fish cake recipe.   Continuación...