Cited as an example by Mourão, bandeirantes were entrepreneurs of death

by ace

Since becoming Vice President of Brazil, General Hamilton Mourão has had such a store bath and media training (techniques not to mention barbarity in front of a journalist, basically) that some unwary people even thought they were in front of a person. reasonable when he opened his mouth in recent months.

But Twitter, as we know, is better than wine to extract his true opinions from the subject, so a few days ago the “vice president” presented us with this pearl of wisdom in his microblogging account: “Grantees, Girl Scouts, sugar masters and masters, canoes and drovers made Brazil. Only an enterprising people build a country of this size. ”

The list is very interesting, no doubt, but I would like to focus on the bandeirantes, since this is Folha de S.Paulo, after all, and the famous pioneers of the backlands are still among the foundations of São Paulo's historical mythology. It turns out that if we really want to describe bandeirantes as entrepreneurs, the main products of their startups were death and misery – even for themselves.

And it is not at all difficult to find reliable information in this regard. If you only have time to read a single book about Brazilian colonial history in your life, please gobble up “Negros da Terra: Indians and Bandeirantes in the Origins of São Paulo” by John Manuel Monteiro (1956-2013).

The Unicamp historian first published the work in 1994, but the book has aged so well, largely thanks to its author's quantitative obsession, which has just won an English edition. Analyzing wills, City Council minutes, and many other documents, Monteiro showed that 16th- and 17th-century Paulistas were obsessed with one type of entrepreneurship: enslaving an Indian.

“Hey, but what about the search for gold and precious stones? What about the heroic expeditions that expanded our borders? ”Asks the most naive reader. In general, these things were, at most, excuses to trap “the black of the earth” (hence the name of the book) or “the gentile of the earth”, depopulating vast regions of the Brazilian interior to supply the wheat farms with labor. – yes, wheat – that were beginning to spread through what would one day be Greater Sao Paulo.

For that, it was basically worth everything. Colonial legislation restrained, to some extent, the enslavement of indigenous people who were not caught in “just wars” (usually self-defense). And the Jesuit priests advocated that the natives be brought together in their own villages, rendering services – theoretically paid – to the settlers as needed.

Annoyed by the “bureaucracy” (but look at what a beautiful parallel with certain entrepreneurs today …), the Paulistas not only swallowed the Jesuit villages of their region, but also destroyed the missions of the Society of Jesus in Guairá (a region that corresponds more or less). west of Paraná today), also attacking regions of Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina.

As a result, certain bandeirantes possessed 500 or more Guarani slaves, who not only tended the crop, but carried wheat for sale in the port of Santos on their backs and acted as personal soldiers of the Paulista potentates on new slave expeditions.

In the final decades of the 17th century, the abused indigenous labor was fading, as was the fertility of the land. There remained in the 18th century a mestizo and impoverished peasantry.

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