Ambassador’s postcards – Sharing the highlights of my diplomatic journey

In this postcard, former Ambassador of Brazil to Serbia, H.E. Eduardo Botelho Barbosa who now serves as the Consul General of Brazil in Zurich, shared his unique diplomatic experiences and memories from the Serbian capital. He also revealed what it’s like to work closely with his fellow Brazilians, now that he is working on the consular side.

After three years as the Brazilian Ambassador, my wife, Monique, and I left Belgrade in March 2022, heading to Zurich, where I am presently the Consul General of Brazil. One never gets used to leaving a post, especially if it means saying farewell to friends, happy memories, and a rewarding professional experience. The dialog with the Serbian government was always productive, as it suits two friendly countries. During the three short years we spent in Belgrade, we visited all corners of Serbia. The people we met were unwaveringly hospitable and easy to talk to.

Belgrade, a truly European capital, is a beautiful, very safe city with many charming neighborhoods. We were fortunate to live in Starigrad, where the Brazilian Residence is located, in the middle of an area that is a permanent invitation for one to wander by foot through its many tree-lined streets and enjoy its numerous charming cafés, restaurants, and attractions. Monique liked it so much, that she wrote a chapter on Skadarlija in the book “Belgrade through the eyes of Foreigners” (a joint initiative of foreign ladies aimed to raise funds for charity).

In my present assignment, I have switched over to the consular side of my diplomatic career. This is a new experience for me, and an enriching one, which involves interacting with the requests and needs of a varied Brazilian public. It is nice to be able to help and support, many times personally, my fellow Brazilians!

Besides providing regular consular services, helping our communities abroad has long been an official government policy. The number of Brazilians residing temporarily or permanently overseas has been increasing regularly since the beginning of the century. In 2022, there were 4.2 million of us living outside of Brazil (out of a population of 207 million). In my jurisdiction (German, Italian, and Romanche cantons of Switzerland, and the Principality of Liechtenstein) there are about 34.000 Brazilians. I am happy to say that they are very well considered by the local authorities. Many of these have acquired Swiss nationality. The community is a microcosm of Brazil, from workers, executives, university professors, and entrepreneurs to wealthy retirees, just to mention a few categories.

It is particularly satisfying to see that the women of my community have had a leading role in establishing several associations, often oriented towards other women and seeking to offer information and advice aiming to ease the adaptation to life in Switzerland. I have been to several events organized by these associations and especially appreciated those teaching entrepreneurship.  I encourage this active solidarity as much as I can. One must also mention the exemplary way the Swiss receive and help integrate Brazilians and other immigrant communities.

Another aspect of the activities of the Consulate General that go beyond routine matters, which I consider very important, is its support of programs that teach young children with Brazilian parent(s) Portuguese and the basics of our culture. These programs are part of the school curriculum in Zurich. The teachers help these children better understand their identity and encourage them to keep their links with Brazil.

The Consulate General of Brazil in Zurich is to be my last post before retirement. It is a positive and active experience, which I am enjoying every day!

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