Brazilian Central American Diaspora

By Rene Breslauer

Immigrants have moved from Brazil to all over the United States, but South Florida has an especially large population and a lot of Brazilian culture.

Map of South Florida



Brazil used to be a country people immigrated to from all around the world. Due to its economic struggles, however, at least a million Brazilians have immigrated to the US, Europe, and Japan (Brazilian Immigration). The coup d’etat of 1964 and the 1979 oil crisis were both contributing factors. It is reported that in 1987 about 300,000 Brazilians lived outside the country, and immigration has since increased at a rate of 20% per year. (Brazilian Immigration). Banco de Brasil, the major bank of Brazil and Latin America, opened up a New York branch in 1969. The Brazilian-American chamber of commerce was founded the same year to assist with trade and investment between the two countries.

Between Brazil’s struggles and the US’s growing Brazilian accommodations, it isn’t surprising that in 1993 87% of Brazilians in the US were born in Brazil. In turn, the Brazilian Geography and Statistics Institute’s 1991 census showed 1,379,928 Brazilians between the ages of 20 to 44 were missing due to emigration. It is possible that half the emigrant Brazilians now reside in the US, with most along the East Coast. Throughout the 1990s, New York was accountable for about 150,000 Brazilian emigrants, along with Boston. The third largest area was Miami with 65,000 first generation emigrants (Brazilian Immigration).

Aside from Florida’s close proximity to Brazil, over 50% of Brazilian immigrants have friends or family in the US, which also makes it a convenient choice. In a quarter of such situations, the immigrant’s never had any intention of returning to Brazil. There is a stigma attached to being an immigrant from any country, however, and Brazilians aren’t exempt. Gino Agostinelli, of the Center for Immigration Studies, states “despite what many people think, most Brazilian immigrants arrive with money and contacts to stay in the US some time before getting a job. They aren’t desperate fugitives, but people with money who are looking for another way of life.” Still, almost 90% of Brazilians interviewed by American anthropologist, Maxine Margolis, were ashamed to be immigrants, claiming they were “just passing through.” (Brazilian Immigration).

The truth is 65% of Brazilian immigrants find a job in the US within three weeks of moving. Unfortunately almost 70% are illegal immigrants, which prevents them from getting high paying jobs or work in fields they are educated in. Many end up working for salaries between $1000 and $2000 a month. Over half of Brazilian immigrants in New York, male and female, have gone to college, yet many work as maids, housekeepers, cooks, nannies, go-go dancers, or shoe shiners. The latter two being the most looked down upon occupations.

It is important for Brazilians to be recognized as not just another Hispanic group in the US, but for all their contributions and what they have to offer. With their population in Florida increasing rapidly, they are beginning to garner more attention. It is estimated that around 300,000 Brazilians now live in Florida, and one of the highest concentrations is in the Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach, Coconut Creek, and Lighthouse Point Area (Whitefield). The Brazilian consulates’ have addressed the Brazilian Diaspora’s need for services by creating the Sub-Secretariet General of Brazilian Communities Abroad. Three hundred temporary consulates have been set up abroad in fifty cities, allowing them to finally get the assistance they deserve.

Along with being heavily contributing members of our workforce, Brazilian Diasporas in all over the country participate in the arts, as well. There is a Brazilian Carnival Ball with parties all over the United States, reminiscent of the balls in Brazil. It allows Brazilians to get together, celebrate, and spread their tradition in their adopted country. The most recent one in Miami took place Saturday, February 12 of this year at the Hilton Hotel on Biscayne Boulevard. It featured a local band featuring old and new Brazilian hits, a martial arts show, and a masquerade contest. Many clubs in South Florida now have Latin night or even samba nights (1st video below), catering to the dense Central American population. Brazilians have also spread interest in the martial arts, with classes in jiu-jitsu and Capoeira (2nd video below) available all over the country. In recent years, Brazilian Diasporas have grown to become a respected culture with much to offer.

Brazilian Instruments

From Left to Right: Agogô, Atabaque, Bateria, Ganzá, Pandeiro, Repinique, Skekere/Xequerê, Tambourine

  • Agogô: Means gong or bell and is the oldest instrument to be used in Samba music
  • Atabaque: A hand drum used in many religious styles of music
  • Bateria: The Portuguese term for a set of drums
  • Ganzá: A cylindrical shaped musical instrument based on a rattle, used in Samba music
  • Pandeiro: Similar to a tambourine, needs to be shaken for sound to be produced
  • Repinique: Similar to a two headed drum, player must carry it with straps and play it with the use of one of two sticks, featured in the carnival festivals of Rio de Janeiro
  • Skekere/Xequerê: Came from Africa, made of the shells of dried gourds so the sound always varies depending on the fruit's size and shape
  • Tambourine: A small drum that comes from Portugal and Africa, can be played with the hands or a stick

The Samba



"Brazil Samba Music Brazilian Carnival." Florida Brasil Guia Para Brasileiros Na Florida. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Brazilian Immigration." Vernon Johns. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Consulate General of Brazil in Miami." The Consulate General of Brazil in Miami. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

"Explosion of Brazilians in Broward County Florida." Jornalus News Agency. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

Lad, Kashmira. "Brazilian Musical Instruments." Buzzle Web Portal: Intelligent Life on the Web. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

Whitefield, Mimi. "Focus-Brazil Reaches out to South Florida Brazilians - Americas -" - Miami & Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Miami Dolphins & More. Web. 25 Apr. 2011. <>.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License