Movement on Brazil borders down 67.8% in 2020

Venezuela, Haiti, and Cuba head the list of nationals seeking refuge

Published in 23/06/2021 - 12:41 By Pedro Rafael Vilela - Brasília

Restrictions on the international mobility of people, introduced by a number of countries due to the pandemic, led to a 67.8 percent reduction in the entry and exit movement in Brazil compared to 2019. The data can be found in the yearly report from the Observatory of International Immigration (OBMigra), linked to the country’s Ministry of Justice and Public Security, and were disclosed during an online event Tuesday (Jun. 22).

According to the document, in 2019, some 14 million people went through Brazilian border points, against approximately 4 million last year. The figures were put together by OBMigra using data from the Federal Police through the International Traffic System. The movement includes both Brazilians entering or leaving the country and foreigners embarking or disembarking in Brazil.

After Brazilians, who make up most of this frontier dynamics, Argentinians are the nationality moving the most in the country (1.9 million), followed by US citizens (318 thousand), Chileans (288 thousand), Paraguayans (278 thousand), and Uruguayans (251 thousand).


The pandemic is also said to have led to a sharp decline in the number of immigrants in 2020 compared to 2019, down nearly 50 percent. The decrease was more significant for temporary registrations, especially women (55%), and less intense among immigrants registered as residents (24%).

Most immigrants come from Venezuela and Haiti, which account for 70 percent of registrations combined. Due to the pandemic, the city of Manaus, in Amazonas state, ranked second as place of residence for immigrants (12.6 thousand), preceded only by Boa Vista (138 thousand), in the state of Roraima, which has occupied first place for a few years, after the increase in the migratory flow of Venezuelans coming to Brazil. This brings São Paulo, which historically had been the main city for immigrants in the country, down to third place (12 thousand).

Refuge applications

Refugee status applications in 2020 also saw a decline brought about by the pandemic, with 28,899 requests. But patterns from previous years have kept steady. Venezuela appears as the main country of origins of applicants, with 17,899 applications, followed by Haiti, with 6,613, and Cuba, with 1,347 requests.

In the last three years, Venezuelans have been the ones who filed most refuge applications in the country (132.5 thousand), followed by Haitians (30.2 thousand), and Cubans (8.1 thousand). In the case of Cubans, the nationality that did not traditionally appear among the top positions, the explanation are attempts to stay in the country by the doctors working under the More Doctors Program until 2018, when the government of the Caribbean country suspended its deal with Brazil.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Aline Leal / Nira Foster

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