Communication, borders and migration process: Venezuelans in Cuiaba/Brazil Communication, frontières et processus migratoire : Vénézuéliens à Cuiaba/Brésil

Cristóvão Domingos de Almeida ,
Alessandro Mateus Felippe 
and Eunice Maria Ramos

The article discusses Venezuelans migratory flow to understand how they proceed to survive in Cuiabá/Brazil, state of Mato Grosso. With lack of housing and access to work, immigrants found the city's busy streets as a place to introduce themselves and make the struggle for survival visible. The dynamics of life and communication strategies faced by Venezuelans living in the city are surrounded by difficulties, exclusion processes and prejudice. The methodological basis is qualitative, inspired by observation and the selection of communication strategies: a body, photography, WhatsApp and visual identity. We show that immigrants maintain expectations for job opportunities and income generation, and they actively fight against indifference and act proudly to survive and improve living conditions.

L'article traite du flux migratoire des Vénézuéliens pour comprendre comment ils procèdent pour survivre à Cuiabá/Brésil, État du Mato Grosso. Faute de logement et d'accès au travail, les immigrants ont trouvé dans les rues animées de la ville un endroit pour se présenter et rendre visible la lutte pour la survie. Les dynamiques de vie et les stratégies de communication auxquelles sont confrontés les Vénézuéliens vivant dans la ville sont marquées par les difficultés, les processus d'exclusion et les préjugés. La méthode suivie est qualitative, inspirée par l'observation et la sélection de stratégies de communication : un corps, la photographie, WhatsApp et l'identité visuelle. Nous montrons que les immigrants conservent des attentes en matière d'opportunités d'emploi et de génération de revenus, qu'ils luttent activement contre l'indifférence et luttent avec fierté pour survivre et améliorer leurs conditions de vie.

El artículo discute el flujo migratorio de venezolanos para comprender cómo proceden a sobrevivir en Cuiabá/Brasil, estado de Mato Grosso. Ante la falta de vivienda y acceso al trabajo, los inmigrantes encontraron en las concurridas calles de la ciudad un lugar para presentarse y visibilizar la lucha por la supervivencia. Las dinámicas de vida y las estrategias de comunicación que enfrentan los venezolanos que viven en la ciudad están rodeadas de dificultades, procesos de exclusión y prejuicios. La base metodológica es cualitativa, inspirada en la observación y la selección de estrategias de comunicación: un cuerpo, fotografía, WhatsApp e identidad visual. Mostramos que los inmigrantes mantienen expectativas de oportunidades laborales y generación de ingresos, luchan activamente contra la indiferencia y actúan con orgullo para sobrevivir y mejorar las condiciones de vida.

O artigo discorre sobre o fluxo migratório dos venezuelanos para compreender como eles agem para sobreviverem em Cuiabá, estado de Mato Grosso. Com ausência de moradia e acesso ao mundo do trabalho, os imigrantes encontraram às ruas movimentadas da cidade para se apresentarem e tornar visível a luta em prol da sobrevivência. As dinâmicas de vida e estratégias comunicacionais enfrentadas pelos venezuelanos que residem no município são cercadas de dificuldades, processos de exclusões e preconceitos. A base metodológica é de cunho qualitativo, com inspiração na observação e na seleção das estratégias comunicacionais: corpo, fotografia, WhatsApp e identidade visual. Evidenciamos que os imigrantes preservam as expectativas por oportunidades de emprego e geração de renda, para isso, lutam ativamente contra as indiferenças e, agem de modo, altivo para sobreviver e melhorar as condições de vida.

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In recent decades the world has experienced a change in the way of communicating, from orality, face-to-face to processes mediated by technological instruments. The media context is inserted in everyday life with different implications, including the relationships of time and space and identity experiences. Technology has brought new alternatives in building a network society, which has impacted all sectors. Castells (2003) emphasizes that the formation of a network is an ancient human practice, what happened according to him, was a resizing of the networks from the processes triggered at the end of the 20th century, however, in this study, communication is considered as an exchange and movement, between orality, corporeality and communicational bonds.

Concerning the body, Baitello Junior (2014: 12) states that it's the main space for strengthening human relationships. For the author, we must be aware that “the generating point of all communication, which constitutes a body, is the target point of the same process, which also exists in its primary nature as a body”. The author says that the body is the root of the entire communication process, which begins at birth. Birth “should be defined as the opening moment of all communication” (Baitello Junior, 2014: 95). From birth, it's the body that transmits the messages, “sounds and speech, hands gestures, head, shoulders, body movements, walking, sitting, dancing, smells and it's suppression, blushes or paleness, shortness of breath or hold of breath, wrinkles or scars, smile, laughter, guffaw and crying” (Baitello Junior, 2014: 95).

Body languages are presented as starting points to promote approximations and, unfortunately, to accentuate distances, oppressions and prejudices. Here, the body with potential to generate social bonds is valued. Considering the migrant, on the move, as a socially oppressed minority, this aspect provides us with evidence of the importance of being satisfied with the body and also how important communication strategies are as a human condition that serves to partially explain the anxieties and also understand and be understood.

In a methodological design, this investigation is structured around the main objective, which urges to describe communication processes, borders conceptualization and the migrants communicational practice description in the city of Cuiabá, MT, Brazil. The text is classified with basic nature, descriptive objectives and qualitative approach, according to Gil (2002). Also, it adopts the Bibliographic Review methodology (Lakatos & Marconi, 2003) to contextualize the theme and the Qualitative Data Analysis methodology (Gil, 2002) to read the information collected in the field, in light of the theoretical-conceptual overlap.

I- Communication and its possibilities

Communication, as a historically human process, has different research approaches: marketing, epistemological, critical, political, philosophical, methodological, ontological, among other possibilities. In this text, our proposed approach is configured to understand the communication process as a sociocultural manifestation of subjects in a certain spirit of time (Morin, 1977), precisely because we infer that they communicate in different ways and express their values and needs (Dragt, 2017) through communication resource, whether verbal or non-verbal, physical or digital (Matino, 2020).

Martino (2020: 14) emphasizes that the concept of communication “has gained great interest since the middle of the last century, when the meanings of means of transport and means of communication are separated”, that is, the phenomena that concerns the circulation of material and symbolic goods through messages, as both used to be understood as the same expression. In other words, it's from this conceptual rupture that a movement begins, one that understands the relevance of communication processes for society, symbolically above all.

Also, Martino (2020: 14) states that communication “is taken as an exceptional human capacity, strictly human, to the point of being the foundation of everything that is more specific to it” such as society, politics, knowledge, memory. Thus, what interests us is to understand the possibilities that exist in human communication processes, understanding that they are sociocultural tissue manifestations of a given region, materializing the complexity existing in human relationships, such as the different migratory movements (whether for war reasons, or for fundamental rights). Such materializations can be selected from newspapers, cinema, advertising, literature, posters, among other possibilities.

Although the author brings the difference between three possibilities of visualizing communication, it's also important to talk about the preexisting complexity of this human phenomenon, since we consider the following issues: macro environment, historical, subjective of the interlocutors, among others. That said, sometimes there will be three possibilities in the same context perceived, understood and investigated. In a recent descriptive investigation by França (et al., 2020), there are two axes verified in contemporary research on communication, as a field of research in Brazil.

Among the authors that guide the first axis considerations, based on Foucault, Deleuze, Guattari and Rose; in the second axis, the authors Simmel, Bauman, Latour, Bourdieu are the predominant authors (França et al., 2020). What can be seen is the discussions complexity and transdisciplinarity on communication existing in a contemporary context, generating significant gains for the area as a process of construction and demarcation. Also, the characterizations punctuated by the authors set the symbolic tone of what would become the contemporaneity analyzed in this text: autonomy of subjects, different oppressions, capitalist modus operandi based on technological networks.

Ultimately, it’s opportune to underline what is attached to communication manifestations: an intention, objective, purpose. From this, a broader analysis of possibilities about the communication process is viable. Combining the desire to understand the social tissue about social transformations with the countless communication manifestations possibilities, a more credible reading is made possible about the present situation spirit of times.

I.I- Communication and border: characteristics and oppositions

The word frontier originates from the Latin frontaria and means the territory that was in front or on the margins (Muller apud Zientara, 2003: 58). A border is the traditional concept, as a barrier, limit, reduction, discontinuity and, for the most part, linked to territorial and geographic boundaries. In contemporary studies on borders, analyzes of political (focus on state policies), economic (“resource frontier”), social (agricultural and/or corporatist) and demographic borders have been privileged (Browder & Godfrey, 2006). The cultural border, as a place of meeting and disagreements between different cultures, is still not expressively a highlighted study, if not limited to the processes of territorialization and geographic delimitations.

The studies that aim, moreover, to establish connections between the "cultural border" and other phenomena in their materiality, in a given context, evidencing the historicity and multiplicity of construction processes by different social subjects are relevants (Silva, 2008 ). In other words, borders - internal or external, from the point of view of national states or ethnic groups, as both similarly define the difference in terms of "us" and "them", "inside" and "outside" , “there” and “here” -, can be thought of as parallel social processes of the same cultural difference's state organization's historical process (Silva, 2005). The Brazilian debate on borders gains centrality in the productions of Sergio Buarque de Holanda (1978) and José de Souza Martins (2009). They bring, in a different historical context, comparative reflections to the expansion to the West debate defended by Turner (1996).

To contribute to the discussion, the reflections made by Martins (2009) are considered relevant, for whom the border is a “place of encounters and disagreements", of otherness, whose characteristic is social conflict, in which "different historical temporalities are inconsistant, as each of the groups is situated differently in history's time”13 (Martins, 2009: 19). In a recent study, Handerson (2021) warns the need for a post-border world; that is, that these places become spaces for encounters, as Martins (2009) warns, but also humanized environments (Handerson, 2021).

From this perspective, as stated by Martins (2009), the border delineates processes of alterity. This, in turn, has the meaning of putting yourself in someone else's shoes. Attempts are established, as realizations of interpersonal relationships based on values such as: consideration, appreciation, identification and dialogue. In a congruent dimension, Handerson (2021) provokes us to think about the real borders transformations; instead of worrying about building walls and fences, it’s necessary to demolish the existing walls, destroy the fences and deactivate the technological fortresses used to watch, punish, arrest and even killing migrants at borders; in other words, it becomes relevant to reinvent the symbolic and physical idea of a border.

Hence the importance of alterity actions and the construction of symbolic bridges across the borders, those that promote encounter, union, holding hands and hugs. These encounters promote affection, intensify relationships between individuals and between cultural, religious, scientific, ethnic groups, among others. In the alterity relationship, the holistic phenomena of complementarity and interdependence are always present, in the way of thinking, feeling and acting, in which the ecological niche and the particular experiences are preserved and considered, without worrying about overlapping, assimilation or people's destruction. The practice of alterity leads from difference to addition in interpersonal relationships between human beings empowered by rights struggles.

Therefore, in the alterity correlation, it's possible to seek the citizenship conquest and establish a peaceful and constructive relationship with the different, as people identify others, understand and seek to learn from diversity and differences. Therefore, the geographic or symbolic border urgently needs to be a space for humanization.Under this context, alterity denotes a relationship of opposites: aversion and adhesion, construction and deconstruction, identification and separation. In this way, we understand the border as a alterities space, more humanized; that is, no longer as a dividing space sine qua non, but one of identifications, respect for diversity and sociocultural consensus (Martins, 2009).

On the border, there is also a fight for the citizenship conquest. And, here, we understand it as a collective participation. It helps to tense possible limits set at borders. The achievement of rights that guarantee individual freedom to come and go, property, expression, freedom of association, assembly, organization and political participation; access to health, education, work, among others, provide dialogue spaces and approximation between geographically separated or culturally diverse regions (Handerson, 2021).

The spaces formed by the need to debate achievement of rights are characteristic of permanent social struggles, which define the borders restructuring, the dimensions, as a limits erasure. These collective actions for construction and conquest of citizenship demonstrate that the border is not just a field of confrontation (Minh-há, 2011).

In the border symbolic space and the migrants communicational experiences, the notion of barrier and limit may prevail, while on the border non-democratic discourses, violence and prejudice persist, leading to power relations practice, intensifying conservative ideas and even practices xenophobic “us” towards “them” (Silva, 2005). Even observed under the insurmountable limit, the border can be strained by the sense of struggle for citizenship, as a movement for change, expansion of spaces for discussion, visualization of common rights and more affectionate and humanizing processes.

According to Peruzzo (2008), the confrontation fields generated by totalitarian regimes, such as slavery, consolidated for centuries - in addition to countless atrocities against life rights and freedom of expression - rigid and insurmountable borders. Only through pressure, union of forces and permanent contrary collective actions this frontier started to become unsustainable, resulting in democratic processes in social terms.

The collective effervescence generated by awareness and sense of citizenship brings together and expands spaces for subjects performance so far situated on borders with difficulty in understanding the strange subject to their relational surroundings, which incessantly throws them beyond their individuality. This social and collective aspect of citizenship is related to movements that project collective visions and actions beyond a border or a delimited circle or, until then, stable and easy to understand.

A time emerges in which the classifications and tight labels on the scenarios and contexts of citizenship struggle seem to lose their effectiveness, as new technical, technological and social possibilities are projected for a collective to be able to "go beyond" a limited relational space, especially for the advancement and implementation of democratic spaces, as well as the facilitation that new communication and information technologies provide. Furthermore, it's worth emphasizing that the presence of means of communication, which cross geographical and cultural barriers, reconfigure not only the symbolic dimension but, above all, the dimensions of time and space. From these new social interaction spaces, other broad articulations that integrate diversity and new social meanings about citizenship, mobilization and the crossing of borders emerge.

II- Migrant: from the border to the city streets

Venezuela borders Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana and the Caribbean Sea to the north. It’s a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), with one of the largest oil reserves in the world, justifying the product's transformation into the country's main commodity. It’s important to note that since the beginning of the 20th century, Venezuela began to experience economic growth with the discovery of oil reserves in its territory. However, with the oil price drop on the international market, the humanitarian, socioeconomic and political crisis began to worsen, resulting in significant migratory flows. External factors also contributed to further aggravate the situation of poverty, including economic sanctions, led by former president Donald Trump, against the government of Nicolás Maduro.

This situation intensifies the crisis and pressures the government to cancel imports of basic products for the daily subsistence of the population. It had directly impact in the lack of hygiene items, food and medicine in the trade, and the few products available had their prices soared, slowing down consumption and increasing extreme poverty in the country. In 2017, extreme poverty surpassed 60% of the population (Elias Neto & Almeida, 2020). This information is combined with data from CONECTAS (2020), that 67% of migrants say they left their country for economic and labor reasons and 22% for lack of access to food and medical services; insecurity and violence figure with 7%, family reasons with 2% and political persecution with 1%.

In this situation, the country, which started to face one of the biggest crises in its history, intensifying the humanitarian, socioeconomic and political crisis, have the displacement of families internally and externally, in search of opportunities and better living conditions. Venezuelans who decided to leave their country of origin, peasants, indigenous peoples, civil servants, liberals and people from different social strata crossed the borders towards other countries in Latin America; part of this population migrated to Brazil crossing the border in the northern region, in the cities of Pacaraima and Boa Vista, both in the state of Roraima.

It is noteworthy that after the worsening of the humanitarian crisis, approximately six million Venezuelans have already migrated to neighboring countries. According to the National Committee for Refugees - a collegiate body, linked to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security - it is estimated that approximately 260 thousand Venezuelans currently live in Brazil; by July 2020, more than 130 thousand Venezuelans requested their refugee status recognition in the country (CONARE, 2020).

Part of this population is found in Mato Grosso. According to the Federal Police report, in June 2021, Mato Grosso had one thousand seven hundred and forty migrants registered in the Migrants System (SISMIGRA); however, many migrants enter without structural conditions and fear being deported, taking a long time to file a request for documentation. With this amount, some information deserves attention, among them is that people arrive in Roraima without regular immigration status or with a tourist visa.

And, more than half of venezuelans who entered Brazil by 2018 were with the request for refuge, 65%, currently, data indicate that this type of application reaches 25% according to data made available by SISMIGRA. According to Conectas (2020), after the first month, 77% of people are regularized as asylum or residence applicants, while 75% of migrants come mainly from 3 Venezuelan states: Anzoategui, Monagas and Bolívar.

The data also show that 52% of migrants have as their final destination another Latin American country, preferably Argentina, and 48% Brazil and, on the Brazilian side, they seek to arrive in the states of Amazonas and Roraima.

It should also be noted that from Roraima, displacements are carried out by land and there is an actual green wall due to the Amazon forest extension, which is why many Venezuelan immigrants choose, due to lack of financial resources, to walk the 133 miles stretch between the cities of Pacaraima and Boa Vista, Brazil.

Starting in 2017, Venezuelans crossed the Brazilian border from the city of Pacaraima, in Roraima. However, Venezuelans arrive in a situation of vulnerability and fragility. It's because of these situations that Handerson (2021) encourages us to think of the border as a more solidary, humanized and generous space. In other words, instead of barriers, walls, fences that impede mobility, the State uses institutional and bureaucratic forces to, in different situations, violate and destroy human dignity; in this sense, it is necessary to immerse on the border a place of crossings and encounters, in a process of humanization.

With the arrival of a large number of Venezuelans, the state of Roraima failed to welcome everyone; for this reason, with the Federal Government and the United Nations (UN) initiative, the interiorization project was launched in 2018, enabling the reception of migrants in other Brazilian states and towns, the first group of migrants to leave Roraima had as destination São Paulo and Cuiabá (Elias Neto & Almeida, 2020).

In Cuiabá, the Pastoral do Migrante, located in the Carumbé district, was and is the first destination for those that arrived and are still arriving in the capital. At home, the migrant undergoes screening and referrals to housing and employment. According to information, the Pastoral do Migrante has space to receive about 120 migrants, hence the need to count on other institutional partnerships to promote the reception of Venezuelans, although the migrants encountered several difficulties, including language lack of dominion, cultural differences and the strong narrative appeal about communism, dictatorship and poverty. Venezuelans had many difficulties in gain access to jobs, even because, with the Brazilian crisis, reinforced by the situation of the new coronavirus pandemic that has plagued Brazil since March 2020, unemployment has increased and, in a way, a group of Venezuelans has changed the capital landscape, occupying the corners - mainly of streets and avenues - as beggars. On the posters on pieces of cardboard, advertisements about the need for a job, including help with food and clothing.

In the next item, we will understand how migrants relate to the population, which at first was of astonishment, not acceptance and even rejection, but with the worsening of the pandemic, the population understood their needs and began to collaborate, with this, Venezuelans in the streets and communication tools they keep alive the hope of new opportunities to restart life in foreign lands and, at the same time, find an unequal and complex Brazilian context to survive.

II.I- Migrants and their communication tools

To understand the daily reality of Venezuelan migrants in Cuiabá, we pont out the macro interferences; we located at least two of them: 1) the worsening of the socioeconomic and political situation experienced after 2016 with the coup that resulted in the deposition of President Dilma Rousseff, with serious political instability and the rise of ultra-liberal management practices, leading to the sale of public assets, among them some Petrobrás and Eletrobrás refineries, Correios, among other public administration companies; in addition, the current President of the Republic's conservative and denialist behavior contributed to stagnation and the suppression of rights and fundamental guarantees to life; 2) in 2020, the world was shaken by the pandemic of the new coronavirus started in March, generating one of the biggest humanitarian crises, including, with the emerging denial, discredit in science and in the vaccine, and the weakening of social distance and the use of masks, to the detriment of herd immunity and early treatment with ineffective drugs, this situation contributed to victimize more than 600 thousand15 Brazilians.

These situations caused a strong recession, accentuating inequalities, unemployment, the return of inflation and the expansion of social exclusion. Certainly Brazilians were heavily impacted, but the ones who suffer most are migrants, especially Venezuelans. In turn, Venezuelans Góis and Silva (2021) have three migration factors: 1) they left the country due to lack of access to services; 2) Purchasing power and 3) collapse of services. Understanding that the migratory reality is complex and not homogeneous.

In Cuiabá, in addition to lack of housing, access to education for their children and high unemployment rate, migrants have been facing several difficulties to guarantee access and permanence in formal work. Without these opportunities, many find the city's busy streets as a possibility to secure food and money, creating some communication strategies to present themselves as candidates for formal or informal employment. The data collection presented in sequence was obtained through a migrants bonds and communication strategies documentary record (Gil, 2002) in the city's streets and, from now on, will be analyzed according to the Qualitative Data Analysis methodology (Gil, 2002).

Smit (1989: 102) warns us that “the description of an image is never complete”. From our viewing point, we present in Figure 1 a Venezuelan couple, the woman with a child in her arms and a baby stroller before her. By her side, a young man, wearing a cap, with a towel covering his head and back, indicating that he is protecting himself from the sun, whereas Cuiabá is considered one of the hottest cities in the country, with thermal variation between 38 and 44°C; in fact, the couple is below a low-sized area, ensuring shade and protection. The boy holds a cardboard sign with the message: “Hi I'm Venezuelan. I need daily painter service. A ayuda to eat”.

Figure 1. Migrant Family

Figure 1. Migrant Family

Source: Reporter MT, 2021

Perniola (2006: 36) warns that “those who see in communication a conscious ephemeral, provisional, momentary choice are mistaken, as this is intended to be also lasting, constant and even immortal”; that is, in a theoretical-interpretative imposed, it is possible to understand that the family of the photo registers a context of human helplessness. In other words, there is a “lack of” contained in the psychic department farthest from the present. There is a lack of care, lack of support, lack of basic elements to build life (symbolic and biological), there is so much lack.

This human helplessness is materialized through the basic elements of a protest, for example. There is the presence of cardboard, pencil, support to be communicated (in this case, the support is the father's hand), a macro context where the communicative element is inserted, end a process of social disruption communicated in the poster. But, in addition to so many presences, we glimpse some absences. To be objective at this point, there is the absence of housing, food, job, financial autonomy, conditions for life possibilities.

However, beyond the presences and absences, the symbolism to us as researchers is the resistance, communicated through the photo, where there is a couple denouncing aspects of situation: the intense social inequalities in Brazil.

Also check the lack of employment for all equally, the high levels of food insecurity registered in the current government, the self responsibility for the social superstructures fragile situation, the intense global migratory movements, among other situations that express the best and worst of our time's spirit (Morin, 1977).

This act of resistance, communicated through Figure 1, is combined with what the Federal Prosecution Service underlines about migratory processes: “a constant phenomenon that produces benefits to society and encourages economic, social and cultural development” (Federal Prosecution Service, 2016: 23). According to the aforementioned reference, there is a process of romanticization about the discourse around migratory processes, underlining positivist progress for the societies involved. When illustrating the migration process with the figure analyzed, the phenomenon becomes polarized: on the one hand, advantages for society; on the other, helplessness, hunger, unemployment and lack of decent housing.

In this first image's analytic session, it's not inviting to fall into common sense praxis: the invitation, in this case, is the development of critical reflections on the border, migration and communication theme, thus understanding the conditions of existing and living (surviving) possibilities in Brazil as a Venezuelan migrant. In this sense, as researchers in the field of communication, there is an ethical duty that awakens us to realize what this communicational manifestation denounces about the present period.

Therefore, as a final consideration after analyzing Figure 1, there is human helplessness along with lack of basic conditions to live with dignity in Brazil as a Venezuelan migrant and a romantic idealization of the migratory process by the national State from of its speech on the migration concept. And, people who are able to try to include themselves in the world of work, even if they do not present themselves as qualified migrants (Domeniconi, Baeninger and Demétrio, 2021), a considerable amount has technical, scientific qualification and work professionally in different areas: health, education, public security, entrepreneurs, among others.

At another point, in the city's central area, known as Morro da Luz, the couple and their son are sheltering in the shade of a tree, this time the two are holding posters in Figure 2. At the registered time, the woman is sitting under two concrete blocks for the sidewalk, indicating that there is reconstruction of the pedestrian street nearby, the makeshift bench is made of construction material's left overs. She holds the poster with the message facing her, covering her body from the waist up; beside her is the child in the stroller and next to her feet there is a plastic container with two bottles, one of water and other of soda. It is common the donations from passers-by to remain close. The boy, wearing flip-flops, light pants and a cap, remains standing, with the poster covering him from waist to neck, with the following message, in Figure 2: “I need a job: painting, hoing, farming”.

Figure 2. The couple and it’s son

Figure 2. The couple and it’s son

Source: G1/MT, 2021

These elements that set the image with people, sidewalks, street, cars and posters framings are characteristic of visual communication. For Baitello Júnior:

Images are a form of writing. [...] we must consider above all the images will, as images have long declared their independence from the world of life and things. And they try to seduce us into transferring us there. It's seduction has a powerful ally, the exhaustion of our eyes in front of his insistent appeal (2014: 64).

In this sense, the aforementioned author brings to the debate the seduction present in the images through the identification with the content “written” there. There is always some identification, through our singular and individual subjectivity, to a greater or lesser degree, becoming an aesthetic experience about what we perceive as an image.

Next, Perniola reflects that “communicative violence has no other purpose than to insert the self into the world's image. The violent act allows the individual to forcefully enter the public scene and try to keep him there for as long as possible” (2006: 30). In other words, the communicational expression in Figure 2 repeats the narrative present in Figure 1: social inequality, autonomous prospecting for a job, hunger and simplicity.

In this case, the word simplicity goes in the opposite Catholic-Christian sense of benevolence and kindness. The term simplicity was chosen precisely to translate the characterization of migrants who find themselves in Cuiabá-MT streets in a situation of basic elements possession. In other words, it's the situation's materialization in which people from the neighboring country, Venezuela, find themselves, resulting in a rupture in the social tissue through simple posters requesting employment, in a violent communication structure (Perniola, 2006).

It's also important to bring to the debate the presence of this family in the city's public space through communication events that narrate the life of the Venezuelan migrant in national lands. This migrant, with racial characteristics demarcated and expressed through the skin color, also implies a reflection on the racial inequalities present in Brazilian society (Holanda, 1978), underlining once again the hegemony of whiteness developed culturally through a slavery past while Brazil Colony.The migratory processes, the border(s) and the communication that is established from this scenario is a complex phenomenon, as sentences Minh-há:

Issues arising from the movement, at the borders, in meeting others, when a stranger is faced with another stranger, everything tends to intensify around the foreign's problem - someone doubly strange, who neither speaks nor looks like us and, paradoxically, is seen as both an exotic guest and a hated enemy (2011: 17).

This strange person, in our case the family consisting of mother, father and son, is perceived, in the public context of the city of Cuiabá, as something that clashes with the common scenario in the region. However, at the same time that it clashes, there's a presence today - materialized by the analyzed photograph - of the Venezuelan migrant in Cuiabá's routine, breaking the traditional status quo. In this case, as a communication strategy adopted by the “natives” of said region, it's a process of invisibility of the Other, the stranger, the unknown. Therefore, there is the presence of the Other (migrant) and the non-presence of this same Other, in a paradoxical phenomenon about migration.

In this second analytical session, what is worth to be underlined as a partial result after interpretation in light of the theory described is the communicative violence present in both figures 1 and 2 about hunger, social inequality, search for jobs and the almost simple-minded aspect recorded in the photographs analyzed. Also, the racial demarcation present in the Figure 2's family is notorious, which dialogues with the national situation's structural racism. Finally, there is the invisibility phenomenon of the migrant Other, in this case of Venezuelan origin, on Cuiabá's part in a process of exoticization of this other, according to Minh-há (2011).

On the other hand, in Figure 3, a young woman creates another communication strategy to approach the public, instead of using a handwritten cardboard poster, she created a banner, with larger letters, more readable and visible. The communication piece has the two rods, bottom and top, to remain taut. The Venezuelan fixed the lower stake in the ground; with this, the banner indicates that it's a little shorter than her height. You can read the message “I from Venezuela, need a job or help from you with whatever you can since I have three children. Thank you very much”. She provides two telephone numbers, as she does not have regular documentation; these numbers belong to her cousins who have been in the city longer and are regularized. She informs that she needs help to support herself in the city, but what she needs is work to send remittances to her children who remain in the country of origin.

Figure 3. Banner as a communication strategy

Figure 3. Banner as a communication strategy

Source: Rdnews, 2021

In Figure 3, the difference from the other two images analyzed above is the qualification of the communication strategy chosen by the migrant based on the materialization in a banner. However, what is announced is, once again, the search for a job based on the justification that she has a foreign origin and three children to be fed and protected.

This respond to a process of liberal governance based on a meritocracy discourse, that is, the State's responsibility to provide the minimum conditions provided, for in the 1988 Constitution is withdrawn, based on fundamental rights, and the responsibility in the search for a job, food, health, housing, transport, is placed in the subject's "lap", whether national or foreign, without making a critical and social analysis.

This reflects on different symptoms of a socioeconomic process in which the guarantee of rights is weakened by conservative discourses contained in the current president of the Federative Republic of Brazil's governability policy. Among other symptoms, we can mention informal employability from underemployment, the different insecurities (financial, economic, educational, health, cultural) present in the migrant's life and the lack of guarantee of fundamental rights in these subjects contexts.

Furthermore, as a complex and multifaceted process, migration expands the space of linguistic borders from the mixture present in communicational manifestations, reflecting a unique plurality as a sociocultural movement that involves two places: Brazil and Venezuela, and brazilian portuguese and venezuelan spanish. However, there is a somewhat confused communication as a strategy to elaborate messages, in this specific case of help; there is a mixture of two languages, generating a strangeness at first glance, but understandable in sequence, understanding the border as a space for encounters and disagreements (Martins, 2009), including languages.

Finally, two other aspects are involved in the analyzed photograph: the racial marker and the gender marker. The Venezuelan subject in this case is a black migrant woman in a country with a huge sexist and racist structure (Minh-há, 2011), making her experience here somewhat precarious and challenging. In this case, different ruptures of the social tissue take place and are registered by the present text, placing us, researchers, in a position of ethical duty towards these subjects; the role evoked by this photograph is to unravel, through lines of analysis, the fragile situation of the Venezuelan migrant subject in our country.

Moreover, as clues to partial considerations found in the analysis of Figure 3 are: the qualification of the communicational strategy of a migrant Venezuelan black women, the complex and unique communication based on the mixture of two languages, and the impacts of social markers, gender and race in her safe and health survival in a socially racist and sexist country, beyond the exoticization (Minh-há, 2011) of the migrant Other through violent communication (Perniola, 2006).

Another communication strategy used by Venezuelan women is the use of a WhatsApp group, called Migrant Women in Cuiabá. The Group includes migrant women, the Pastoral do Migrante social worker and we, as researchers, who ask for authorization to monitor and observe the content disseminated for the purposes of scientific analysis, materialized in this report. At the group, several topics are publicized, from vacancies to housing, employment, interviews, documentation, business announcements and entrepreneurship. This strategy is important as there are more than one hundred participants in there and the message reaches different people in different city neighborhoods. Figure 4 marks the announcement of decorated pies production, in a proposal to ask for help to publicize the activity in the hope of expanding the orders and consumption of the final product.

Figure 4. Announcement on WhatsApp Group

Figure 4. Announcement on WhatsApp Group

Source: author’s personal collection, 2021

Figure 4 configures a digitalization of the communication process in the prospecting and dissemination of consumer goods by Venezuelan migrant women. It's important to understand, in this specific case, the process of resistance present in the communicational action based on the strategy of using WhatsApp's digital social network as a means to disseminate goods and services. The communicated product, decorated pies, is a way to acquire financial resources for survival in Brazil. However, it's not feasible to romanticize the entrepreneurial process present here, since there are large informality indices in the commercial process, emphasizing, once again, a critical position in the phenomenon analysis.

Additionally, Perniola tells us that “the 'so civilized' West becomes, through communication, the place for obscurantism excellence, despotism and barbarism” (2006:35). The last adjective described by the author interests us in the sense of describing the conditions for a possibility to live in another country, speaking another language, being inserted in another cultural context, in addition to narrating, once again, a singularization of the migratory process, without accountability official of the national state.

Also, the Venezuelan migrant women organization around digital communication in a WhatsApp group. There is a movement to qualify the communication media for better dissemination of the elaborated message, in this case on a popular digital social network in Brazil. Although there are different challenges, such as race, gender and migration, there are possibilities for reinvention through the digital communication accessibility, as Recurso (2009) reminds us. Emerging digital communication supports the process of spreading messages, as is the case with the publicity of decorated pies produced by Venezuelan migrant women.

Figure 4 dialogues with the other three photographs as of communicational manifestations that illustrate the situation of people from Venezuela: looking for jobs, even in informal situations; adaptation of the language used to compose the communication pieces somewhat mixed and confused; the social, racial, gender and economic markers of migrant subjects. Therefore, all these situations are in line with xenophobic practices reported earlier by Silva (2005) about migratory movements. What can be inferred, as clues for consideration, is a complex situation in the sense of seeking survival strategies and guaranteeing fundamental rights, revealing the intense migratory processes that take place in our country, with the help of digital communication, in contexts of borders (Handerson, 2021).


It's understood that in the displacement of migrants who leave their country of origin passing through bureaucratic barriers at the border until reaching the cities of destination, and, in these locations, with no opportunity to find work, migrants find the city busy streets as a possibility to introduce themselves, ask for help and receive some tips, food and also many prejudiced, violent and unnecessary words. It's evident in this study, the relevant point that work is a fundamental activity in people's lives, even more so for those who seek to rebuild their lives in other sociocultural and economic spaces different from their own.

From this perspective, on the one hand, in a positive way, we identify migrants who are hopeful of finding a job, formal or informal, but due to the political, economic and health crisis, unemployment has increased, making access more difficult; on the other hand, it’s also considered important, migrants changed the urban landscape, with forms of resistance communication, however, social vulnerabilities expose the difficulties encountered in the migratory flow, specially when using communication strategies to expand the reach of disclosure such as with handwritten cardboard posters, banners and a WhatsApp group, as a space to amplify their struggles for survival. And, they found solidarity and empathy in a considerable part of the population, ensuring visibility and cultural interactions. Even though, they have heard and still hear from drivers in a hurry the violent speeches and deniers of citizenship and fundamental rights in our country.

In addition, as clues for final considerations, we can select some points: 1) the ethical duty present during the materials analysis as researchers of communicational phenomena that emerge from the sociocultural tissue; 2) the feeling of helplessness present in the migrant's non-belonging to our country, this is due to the rejections of the natives; 3) the lack of basic conditions for survival, going against the fundamental rights provided for in the 1988 Constitution; 4) the romantic discourse on the National State's part regarding the phenomenon of migratory movements, that is, there ar no effective public policies for migrants, even social policies, they have difficulties in accessing social assistance resources; 5) communicative violence about hunger, social inequality, prospecting for underemployment and the simplicity present in migrants clothing; 6) social, racial and gender markers in a country as violent as Brazil; 7) the Venezuelan Other migrant process of invisibility by Brazilians, in an exotic movement; 8) the communication strategy qualification from a banner; 9) the plural mixture of brazilian portuguese and venezuelan spanish languages; 10) and the infinite possibilities that digital communication accessibility brings to migrants, with an emphasis on the use of digital social networks.

With the Venezuelans communication strategies in Cuiabá, we have identified some perspectives that can be expanded in the future: 1) the body and the communication of resistance as an act of nonconformity and in search of new opportunities, in this study, access to work to ensure survival; 2) the recognition of the immigrant vital force as a historical subject, committed to life, and individual and collective well-being, especially because they leave family members in their country of origin and send income remittances to contribute to the sustenance for those who remain there. For this, it's necessary to recognize the right to migrate, otherwise we will live with discourses of illegality, clandestinity and informality.

Other versions

Domingos de Almeida, C., Mateus Felippe, A. and Maria Ramos, E. (2022). Communication, borders and migration process: Venezuelans in Cuiaba/Brazil. Trayectorias Humanas Trascontinentales, (8).

Cristóvão Domingos de Almeida
Post-doctor in Communication and Consumer Practices (ESPM), PhD in Communication and Information, Master in Education and graduated in Public Relations. Professor at the PPG in Communication, at the PPG at Studies of Contemporary Culture and at the Publicity and Propaganda course at the Federal University of Mato Grosso.
Federal University of Mato Grosso
Cuiabá, Brasil
Alessandro Mateus Felippe
MSc. in Clothing and Fashion Design (UDESC/SC), Specialization in Startup, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (UNINTER) and graduated in Publicity and Propaganda (UNIPAMPA). Founding partner of Fio Propaganda. Professor of Communication.
Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brasil
Eunice Maria Ramos
MSc. in Communication (PPGCOM) at the Federal University of Mato Grosso, MBA em Gestão e Marketing (FVG), Graduated in Journalism (Unisinos) and reporter on TVCA MT (Brasil).
Cuiaba, Mato Grosso, Brasil
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