Opposition party Venstre’s controversial proposal to treat immigrants differently based on where they come from has drawn the ire of Brazil.
In Venstre’s proposal, residents from certain countries would need only to find a job with an annual salary of 215,000 kroner ($39,000) to gain admittance to Denmark. Those coming from other countries would need to earn 400,000 kroner ($72,000) per year.
Brazil was not included on the preferred list, much to the annoyance of the Brazilian Embassy.
In a letter to Venstre’s Søren Pind that was obtained and published by Berlingske, embassy official Rafael de Mello Vidal chastises the party for giving Brazilian immigrants “second class treatment” and says that Venstre does not understand modern Brazil.
“Without extending myself about the Brazilian nation, which you seem to know very little about, except for the Politiken pictures of the minority living in poor conditions (as if for instance the only pictures in a newspaper overseas about beautiful Copenhagen would be those of its most depressed areas and not of Nyhavn) you apparently have no information about the characteristics of the Brazilian emigration and the behaviour of Brazilian nationals when they choose and are accepted to live in a foreign land,” Vidal writes.
He points out that Brazil has the world’s sixth largest economy and that just ten million of its 200 million inhabitants live in poverty.
Venstre’s list of preferred nations is based on the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI), which Vidal argues is a poor standard.
“Without trying to teach you or Venstre on how to develop a national policy for immigration, my first remark is that the [HDI] is a very relative index and definitely not a reliable tool for developing a national policy on immigrants,” he writes.
Vidal then goes on to talk about the Brazilians already living in Denmark, using all caps to make his point.
“But we have about 3,000 Brazilians living here. And they are FIRST CLASS CITIZENS. […] And you have probably NEVER HEARD OF ONE OF THE 3,000 BRAZILIANS WORKING, STUDYING OR MARRIED IN DENMARK THAT ARE UNEMPLOYED OR HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THE POLICE, OR ARE ILLEGAL.”
The whole letter can be read here, in both English and Danish.
Venstre’s proposal singles out immigrants from the EU and Nordic countries, the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Andorra, Argentina, Brunei, Chile, Israel, Japan, Switzerland, Singapore and South Korea for the lower income requirements.
Following the publication of Vidal’s letter, Venstre stood by its list.
“There is nothing that is 100 percent perfect in this world, unfortunately. When you make a list of countries, there will always be some that are on one side where you could say that maybe it is a little strange,” party spokesman Jan Jørgensen told Danmarks Radio.
Government coalition parties the Social Democrats and the Social Liberals (Radikale), however, both sided with Vidal’s criticism.
“This letter shines a light on the fact that you can’t divide the world into good and not-so-good countries as Venstre has done,” Radikale’s Marlene Borst Hansen told Berlingske Nyhedsbureau, adding that she found the situation “embarrassing”.
The Social Democrats said they feared the Brazilians’ umbrage with Venstre could affect exports.
“We have used a lot of resources to get a good business relationship with Brazil. Now Venstre has made a mess of it,” party spokeswoman Mette Gjerskov told Danmarks Radio.