By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – King Juan Carlos I of Spain arrived in Brazil this week for high-level meetings aimed at strengthening bilateral economic ties with Brazil. Although mutual business interests, new deals and the Eurozone crisis comprised the official agenda, the ongoing immigration issues were also addressed, with both countries reaffirming their respect for each other.

King Juan Carlos I of Spain meets Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Brazil News
King Juan Carlos I met President Rousseff to discuss fortifying economic ties, and also ongoing tit-for-tat deportations, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR.

After arriving in Brasília on Monday, the 74-year-old monarch met with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and a number of ministers, including the Minister of External Relations Antonio Patriota.

Rousseff said “the spirit of mutual understanding and admiration which brings Brazilians and Spaniards closer together has continued to strengthen.”

Spain is currently the second biggest foreign investor in Brazil and, according to the Ministry, last year bilateral trade reached over R$16.2 billion (nearly US$8 billion), up twenty percent on 2010.

Also taking part in the visit are high-profile business figures from Spain – including those from Spain’s flag carrier Iberia Airlines, telecom giant Telefónica (which trades in Brazil as Vivo) and Santander, the Eurozone’s largest bank – who are all keen to looking to sign more deals in Brazil.

It was also reported that the two countries are set to work together to explore opportunities in markets in Asia and the Middle East in the future, building on the already growing interest in Latin America from China.

But despite words of mutual respect and strengthened ties, Brazil wants assurances from Spain that it is doing everything in its power to avert disaster in Spain and the Eurozone, given the impact of both on Brazil’s economy.

Due to uncertainty and the poor economic outlook in Europe, there has been an influx of Spanish workers coming to Brazil in search of employment. According to the Ministry of Labor and Employment, the number of work visas granted to Spanish professionals increased 30.4 percent between 2010 and 2011.

King Juan Carlos I met President Rousseff in Brasília, Brazil News
King Juan Carlos I met President Rousseff in Brasília, photo by Roberto Stuckert Filho/PR.

With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that the recent tit-for-tat deportations – which started four years ago after it was revealed that over a thousand Brazilians had been refused entry into Spain in the first three months of 2008 for failing to have the correct documents – drew focus from bilateral business deals.

Following talks both leaders were keen to show progress had been made on the subject, and King Juan Carlos I insisted that Spain’s “Brazilian friends are welcome in Spain” and that “the Spanish authorities are taking steps to make it easier and quicker” for Brazilians to enter the country.

Visa and naturalization specialist, Visto Brasil, say the friction began when Spain toughened its stance on Brazilian migration, but that the detentions and deportations of Brazilians from Spain have continued until now, and official figures show 299 refused entries for the first three months of 2012.

Menelaw Sete, an artist from Bahia, was barred from entering Spain along with six other Brazilians in May this year: “The experience was completely humiliating. I’ve traveled around Europe for fifteen years and I’ve never been treated like this. I won’t be going to Spain for quite some time now – I’m still in shock,” he said, speaking to The Rio Times from Salvador.

And as of April 2012, Brazil has begun reciprocal measures, deporting 31 Spanish citizens arriving in Brazil in the first month after the new position was adopted. Currently neither country requires a visa for visitors arriving as tourists, but documents – such as an invitation letter, a return ticket, and proof you can support yourself financially – can be required.


  1. How the tables have turned. Brazil does not need Spain but today Spain definitely needs Brazil. There is plenty of competition ready to take the places of Spanish companies in Brazil. Brazil will welcome Spain’s most qualified workers (brain drain) and leave behind those that lack work ethic and ambition. Today there is little reason for Brazilians to seek work in Spain.

  2. Personally, I look at the slowdown they are having in the BRIC countries at present. I have always thought that it could not be sustained for much longer. I am confident the EU and more specifically the United Kingdom will come out of recession strong, although the likes of Spain, Greece, Italy and Portugal really are not in a position for growth, regardless of how much money is plunged into their economies, one could say they are dead in the water and need to sort out there massive debts. My reasons for stating this, is the UK in specific is beginning to utilize its technology companies which it should have been doing years ago. Because of the innovation available in the UK regarding technology, this is an area the UK can expect major growth in the coming years and will dominate in Europe and remain 2nd only to the USA, which will put the UK back where it belongs economically and realign the British economy which it has badly needed for many years after being dominated by the la la financial sector that is only based on short-term greedy investment returns. It is all very nice and all to have lots of resources which the BRIC countries do have, but ultimately it will be the countries that lead technologically that will come out very strong after the recession as there is a trend to put money into long term investments that gain real results and genuinely assist the GDP and stability that the old financial services simply can not provide. Those investments seem to be technology companies, new and old. This is where I am expecting the UK to be able to pull away from Europe a lot more and start to do what it is best at.

  3. It’s funny to see Spain not allowing Brazilians to enter their country. The Brazilians who could not enter there were probably those who could not prove that they were tourists, they were people looking for work. Which is sad, because Brazil is a growing economy, while Spain could fall into ruins any time… their future is very uncertain, sadly :(

  4. I’m a British citizen that has been to brazil.seriously I think it’s appalling the Spanish have rejected so many Brazilians in such short space of time. I met a lot of Spaniards in brasil and they are recieved very well. so it would be nice to see the exchange fairly returned.


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