Perhaps nothing signifies the grand generosity of Cape Vedean immigrants to their families and countrymen more than the “bidon.” That is, the gasoline barrels/drums, pictured above.
From the time Cape Verdean immigration history began being documented, in the late 1700’s to the early 1800’s, starting in Brava, Cape Verde, to the United States of America, the bidon entered Cape Verdean history and has continued to play a significant role in the lives of Cape Verdeans.
THE SIGNIFICANT ROLE THE BIDON HAS PLAYED IS DUE TO THE FACT THAT IT BECAME, IN THE EARLY 1800’S, AND STILL IS TODAY, A LIFELINE FOR MANY CAPE VERDEAN FAMILIES.
Starting in the 1800’s, Cape Verde immigrants in America, who originally arrived in America due to their profession and reputation as hard workers on American whaling ships, almost instantly began sending “aid” back home to their families via bidons.
The aid Cape Verdean immigrants living in America sent to Cape Verde, via bidons, was extremely intensified and is distinguishably recognized during the 1900’s. This was due to various factors including, drought, famine, lack of economic development, to name a few reasons.
In the bidon’s Cape Verdean immigrants packed food, medicine, cloths, a long with various other necessary products and items for their families…and many times, for neighbors as well.
Upon Cape Verde gaining independence from its former colonial power, Portugal, the unilaterally ruling Cape Verdean government wasn’t adherently strict about imposing tariffs on such bidons.
However, once multiparty elections were held in Cape Verde in 1991, from then onward until present day Cape Verde, the bidon became, and is, a politicized relic for ruling governments.
The ruling governments of Cape Verde, since 1991, have used the bidon, a symbol of aid, help, assistance, from Cape Verdean immigrants to their families and countrymen, as a method to enrich their government coffers, and as a consequence, the bidon has been held hostage and subjective to the exorbitant tariffs the government places on them.
With such practices, that its, with such excessive costs, to take a bidon out of customs in Cape Verde, many Cape Verdean immigrants have ceased completely from sending bidons to Cape Verde to help their families. And at the most, some limit the bidons they send to Cape Verde to a few every few years.
THE CONSEQUENCE OF THIS IS THAT FAMILIES IN DESPERATE NEED IN CAPE VERDE NOW RECEIVE LESS, OR NO BIDONS FROM THEIR IMMIGRANT FAMILY MEMBERS. THE PRICES HAVE BECOME THAT EXAGGERATED AND EXUBERANT AND AT TIMES TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE TO THE OFFICIAL REVIEWING YOUR BIDON.
CHANGE TO BE GAINED
The #nada movement, has been arduously and intently fighting for change in Customs of Cape Verde…including in the sector of bidons.
The #nada movement has been so arduously fighting for change in Customs of Cape Verde that the government of Cape Verde, after great protests, particularly on the social media platforms, have consented to certain changes when it comes to the practices of taking bidon’s out of Customs of Cape Verde. Read more about it in CUSTOMS OF CAPE VERDE: REFORMATION IN PROGRESS.
THE PEOPLE REFUSE TO BE FOOLED
Among the concessions the Cape Verdean government will implement when it comes to bidons is “a single price for every bidon.” This is music to the ears of every Cape Verdean immigrant and Cape Verdean in Cape Verde.
The reason is because Cape Verdeans will now know exactly what they will pay every time they go and take out a bidon from Customs of Cape Verde. That is, the price/tariff to take out a bidon will no longer be subjective to the government dispatchers.
HOWEVER, THE GOVERNMENT HAS YET TO DECLARE WHAT THIS “SINGLE PRICE” AMOUNT WILL BE. CAPE VERDEANS KNOW FROM PREVIOUS HISTORY THAT CAPE VERDEAN RULING GOVERNMENTS EXERCISE AN IRON FIST WHEN IT COMES TO SETTING CUSTOM TARIFFS.
HOW YOU CAN HELP CAPE VERDE’S PEOPLE
If you want to join together with Cape Verdeans in this struggle to make sure Cape Verdeans participate and that the government is transparent about this process, you can send Olavo Correia a message urging him to do so via his official Minister of Finances Facebook page.
As Minister of Finances in Cape Verde, Olavo Correia is the is the ultimate boss in Customs of Cape Verde. No customs laws or regulations can be set without his authority.
Olavo Correia is responsive in his Facebook page. You can send him a message, in whatever language you speak, asking him to involve the Cape Verdean people in the process of setting a “single price.” A price that be must be fair and just for the people of Cape Verde.
Also, remind him that the bidon’s are a lifeline for many Cape Verdean families. The bidon assists the government because it limits their expenses on government assistance to the needy in Cape Verde…an assistance that is almost non-existent.
Between Race and Ethnicity: Cape Verdean American Immigrants, 1860-1965 (Statue of Liberty Ellis Island) is a book written by Marilyn Halter. In it she combines oral history with analyses of ships’ records to create a detailed picture of the history and adaptation patterns of the Cape Verdean Americans, who identified themselves in terms of ethnicity but whose mixed African-European ancestry led their new society to view them as a racial group. Halter emphasizes racial and ethnic identity formation among Cape Verdeans, who adjusted to their new life by setting themselves apart from the African American community while attempting to shrug off white society’s exclusionary tactics.
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