Madeirans ‘long to return home’, says mayor
MADEIRANS should not be ‘forced’ to emigrate to Jersey and more must be done to encourage them to stay and work in their homeland, the head of the island’s capital has said.
Paulo Cafôfo, mayor of Funchal, visited Jersey this week to meet Madeirans, visit their businesses and attend the annual Portuguese Spring Festival held at Jardins de la Mer.
According to the 2011 census, a total of 8,042, or one in 12 (8.2%), of all respondents considered themselves to be Portuguese or Madeiran.
Speaking to Portuguese media while in Jersey, Mr Cafôfo said: ‘It is like being at home, on the streets, in cafés. What we find most are Madeiran people who live here and who have a very large presence, working in various sectors, in hotels, restaurants and public bodies and [they] are crucial for Jersey.
‘This is what we must revert to in Madeira – the region has to make better use of people. Our greatest asset is people and we have to create conditions for those who want to return.
‘We also have to create conditions so that others are not forced, like these, to emigrate. What you notice [from Madeirans living in Jersey] is the longing, the desire to return – no one wants to be here forever. People are here with the purpose of working, but also to be able to return and invest in the region and we must create conditions to do that.’
During his visit, Mr Cafôfo also attended the Barclays Jersey Boat Show, visited businesses owned by Madeirans, including those in the north of town and the Central Market, and he had lunch with St Helier Constable Simon Crowcroft, Senator Sam Mézec and Joao Nunes from the St Helier-Funchal Twinning Committee.
He also met St Helier Deputy Carina Alves, who travelled to Madeira in April to meet the island’s officials.
Pedro Calado, vice-president of Madeira’s regional government, also visited the Island for the Spring Festival and attended a mass at St Thomas’s Church.
He reiterated what Mr Cafôfo had said, adding that although Madeirans were happy living in Jersey, conditions had improved in Madeira.
‘Madeira today offers living conditions so that if they ever want to come back and settle down again [in Madeira], people can do it,’ Mr Calado said.
Speaking about Jersey, he added: ‘It is no longer a centre of emigration for a more rural activity – today we have our very well placed emigrants, who have developed very good businesses.’