March 7, 2012 by Kyle
Brazil and the Portuguese…Yet Another Colonial Scar
“So by the year 1600 the Portugese requiring an alternative labor force had turned to Africa”
I’m looking forward to one day visiting Brazil–walking the beaches, seeing the parades and taking in the culture. I’ve been reading some of the history of this vast land and was really amazed at the historical similarities between Brazil and the U.S. The evil institution of slavery had also left Brazil scarred and divided. The undeniable colonial imprint shows up in the racially fractured modern day country of Brazil. Amazed that the impact of such a small nation like Portugal is still felt centuries later. You don’t have to be big to be brutal. The much sought after resource of sugar cane created a thirst within the European economy that would only be quenched through the enslavement of Africans and indigenous people. The Portuguese are important in this discussion about European conquest because they were one of the first to take the industry of slavery to its prominence in the time period between 1600 to 1800.
As the popularity of sugar grew so did the Trans Atlantic slave trade. Sugar wasn’t the only commodity included in this global endeavor. The above chart shows other desired products that pushed this unholy institution. The Portuguese, and their European neighbors stopped at nothing to acquire gold and other natural resources from these newly “discovered” lands. Executions, beatings, rape and the maiming of slaves were common practices as the race for global domination was set into high gear. The video below brings to the forefront the brutal stories of European aggression on the shores of South America. Brazil became the great slave state in large part because of the aggressiveness of the Portuguese and their desire to translate the natural resource of sugar into riches at any cost.
Needless to say, the conquest of these lands by Euro-Colonialist have current day social implications. The most noticeable impact is seen in the economic disparity between indigenous, African peoples and those of European descent. Individuals of European descent still occupy a place of privilege in this modern country. The mass accumulation of wealth and power were a primary reason for the oppressive colonial hand-print that stretched across the Americas–this continues in previously colonized countries in the world. The hegemonic structures put in place by Euro-Colonialists ensured that those of their kind would remain in power for centuries to come. It is worth mentioning that these systems were developed and put in place by the political and religious elite of Europe. Too often the church and the state worked together to propagate this unholy institution. Like many other countries, modern day Brazil is just one more example of the impact of colonialism on the global community. Despite the revision of history by the powerful the wounds associated with euro-colonialism are still fresh.