Thursday, August 21, 2008

Living the American Dream in Brazil

By Gabriel Elizondo in Itabirinha, Brazil Al Jazeera

Brazil's returning expatriates and their US dollars are being welcomed with open arms

The small town of Itabirinha, Brazil might seem like the most unlikely place in the world to be benefiting from the US economic downturn.

With a population of 10,000 and located in the remote interior of Brazil, one in every 10 people from Itabirinha live in the US.

But this is quickly changing; this year alone hundreds of people gave up the 'American dream' and returned home to re-invest their dollars in the local economy.

Itabirinha represents a microcosm of a much larger reverse migration trend that has been happening in the past year.

Booming Brazil

But that is just half the story, because Brazil is currently undergoing an economic revival it has not seen in years.

There is record growth in everything from the Sao Paulo stock market (the largest in Latin America), to new home sales, to discretionary spending.

In short, Brazil is booming and it is not just the wealthy megacities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, but also the medium-sized cities.

The thousands returning from the US are hoping for a slice of the Brazilian pie.

US media outlets have also quoted travel agents in the New York area alone who said that one-way tickets from Kennedy Airport to Brazil are averaging about 150 a day, more than double those of a year ago.

Meanwhile, the small town of Itabirinha is reaping the benefits of people coming b

"I told the people I met with that whoever had capital to invest of any kind, $100,000, $50,000, $10,000, could return to Itabirinha and create his or her own business," Ferreira said.

"We had a market for any business they wanted to create, and we are ready to help them, no matter how much they wanted to invest. I made it clear Itabirinha is waiting for them with open arms."

As the trend plays out in small Brazilian towns like Itabirinha in the months and years to come, people like Araujo, the new business owner in town, says he has no regrets about coming back.

"I am living my America dream," he said. "I am just living it here, and not back in America."

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