While Sonja and I wander through Blato revisiting the town, the library, discussing our observations and sharing knowledge and insights, we often consider why people left?
There seemed to be obvious reasons in the past for people leaving Blato and other towns in Korcula – for example, because of conflicts or vine disease decimating their livelihood making life challenging – these are documented and acknowledged in the story of Korcula and Blato.
But why would so many leave post WWII – mainly from the mid-1950s onwards – if they had jobs? Textile manufacturing, wine-making, fishing, olive industries, boat building and more. There were progressive co-operative type industries which had the people factored into the very running of the factory – they took the losses with the profits, responsibility was shared.
Vesela from Barilo told us that there was work in Blato, and people did not have to leave. People we have spoke to have suggested that those who left wanted more – the grass is always greener I guess. Many left for North America, Australia, New Zealand and various Southern American countries. Many people have relatives in these countries due to these past times of mass migration.
We have been wondering whether there was some significant event or some societal changes on the island that prompted this?
Perhaps media may have played a major part – TV and films, advertisements from the settler countries, songs from popular culture, and I guess stories through letters and photos from their emigrants in the “new world” – these may have all contributed to these new waves of people leaving their homes in Blato.