Mardzej, 6 jąwarze 2009 o.

Mass emigration to Florida and its demographic consequences

Ana Rzenata Nowicz

„My brother Ignacy is 33 years old and has been looking for a reasonable job for years now. Unfortunately for him, the wages for people without higher education are such that they balance on the verge of poverty. Even people with professional training often have to depend on small-time jobs. That's why Ignacy decided to try his luck somewhere else and move to Florida.”

Mass emigration is not a new phenomenon for the Republic: it has been going in for centuries, and the huge Venedic communities in countries like France, the NAL and Montrei are witnesses of that. Yet, during the last five years a new emigration wave has taken off, unprecedented even in comparison to those of the 19th century. The reason of this spectacular growth in the emigration rates are undeniably the opportunities offered in Southeast Florida. Incited by those opportunities, thousands of unemployed and others with a low life standard decided to cross the ocean and move to Florida, in search of a better life. They were assisted by hundreds of drafting bureaus that already sprang up during the first days after the war in virtually every town in the RTC. Emigration took place on such a scale that in 2008 chancellor Janać proudly attributed „a considerable decrease in the unemployment rates” to his own successful economic policies.

This mass emigration inevitably had to cause trouble. It became harder and harder for companies and institutions to find qualified personnel, so that hospitals and construction sites soon found themselves forced to hire people from Ukraine, Belarus and the Russian Federation. While in Florida roads were built and houses and palaces were restored, the Republic's own internal infrastructure deteriorated gravely.

Fortunately, it did not come to a real crisis, which is partly due to the quick return of people for whom the „Floridian dream” had turned into a nightmare. In 2006, 11,000 people returned from Florida to the RTC, a year later even 15,000. Many emigrants had left without any preparations and without even knowing a word in Castillian. Thus, not everybody managed to find a place for himself in the new reality, and not everybody could easily find a job. Some people came back already after a few weeks, disappointed and desillusioned, others did not have the money for the journey back home and were forced to stay. A number of people went missing.

A few of the latter have been recovered later. In most cases, they were people who felt so ashamed about their failure that they would rather stay and be poor and homeless than to return home and face their families and friends. Some of them ended up among native Floridians in tent cities and relocation camps, others kept on wandering. Some major excesses have been noted as well, including the discovery of several labour camps, where both Floridians and Veneds had to live under abominable conditions, were mistreated, and forced to excessive physical efforts. Responsible for these camps was in all cases the Olęca Siekrzota.

Luckily, situations like that are exceptional. Most emigrants adapt very well to their new homeland, find a suitable job, and often quickly work their way up into leading positions. Their success in turn forms an inspiration for new emigrants. Thus, over one million people from the Republic have already found their way to Southeast Florida: by December 2008, 983,000 people from Veneda and 315,000 from Lithuania had officially left the country to find a better future in Florida. This group consists of people of all ages and from all layers of the population, but includes a particularly high number of doctors, nurses, construction workers, and teachers. Also, many poor farmers have sold their property in the RTC, bought land in Florida and set up agricultural enterprises there – some successfully, some less.

It should be noted that these statistics are far from reliable. For example, they do not take into account the military, although an estimated one third of the entire army is currently stationed in Florida. They also neglect Veneds and Lithuanians who have left for a shorter period, for example for season labour. Therefore, it is hard to tell how many people from the Republic are really in Florida now. Some estimate their number on 2 million, or even more. Interestingly, their number is in no way equalled by the number of native Floridians who emigrated to the RTC. Indeed, their number is not higher than an estimated 65 thousand.

After five years, this huge emigration wave has become the cause of an interesting new sociological phenomenon. According to a conference dedicated to the subject, it does not only have an economic, but also a cultural background. Many people consider the RTC and Florida a unity, and two subsequent governments have strengthened them in this opinion. In other words: a journey to Miami, Nowa Wenecja or Pałmolitu Oszczedziętały is nothing fundamentally different from a journey to Warsina, Kordyn or Siodawa. While this should not beforehand be treated as something negative, it cannot be denied that the effects are far-reaching. Virtually every Venedic or Lithuanian family has at least one son, brother, uncle or cousin in Florida, and instead of returning home, they often take with them one member of the family after another. Just like my brother, who also wants to bring his wife to Florida now.

Nobody knows what will happen, should the RTC be forced to leave Florida. Many emigrants will undoubtedly return home, either because they have made enough money to build up something for themselves in the Republic, or because they fear what might happen to them once the native Floridians take over entirely. But on the other hand, a huge number of them will probably decide to stay in Florida, no matter what happens polically. Either way, Southeast Florida will never become what it used to be before the Florida War of 2004. It will have to get used to a situation, in which approximately one fifth of its entire population are Veneds and Lithuanians.