A history of Latin America Essay

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A history of Latin America

It was during the European colonial expansion that Brazil fell under Portugal as a colony. Colonization in Brazil spanned the period between 1500 to year 1815. Portugal was interested in Brazil for a number of reasons that included the hope of getting minerals, raw materials as well as slave trade and labor to among other interests. The colonization of Brazil had some effect on the native way of life, with most of these effects having had a lasting effect to date.

It’s worth noting that from the history of Brazil, France also had an interest in Brazil but could not stand up to Portugal which had taken the control of this part of the world through the signing of a treaty. The Portugal king known as king Manuel 1 who was reigning then wanted the colony to be ruled under a system of 15 hereditary captaincies- a fit that failed to work due to large-scale failure. The system gave way to royal enterprise in 1549. The following essay describes the causes and the effects of the Portuguese colonialism in Brazil.

Causes of colonialism There are a number of things that preceded the Portuguese entry into and colonization of Brazil. Following the signing of the treaty of Tordelsillas in the year 1494 that facilitated the division of the world between Spain and Portugal, all land falling to the east was taken up by Portugal while Spain took up the land on the western side. In the year 1500, a navigator, Captain Pedro Alvares Cabral in charge of a fleet of 13 ships trailing the route taken by Vasco da Gama to India, landed in Brazil.

He possessed this land for king Manuel 1 as an overseas colonial land for Portugal. His possession of the land made it a colonial land for Portugal (Sweet 2007p233). The Portuguese expressed their interest in Brazil due to the presence of raw materials that proved to be valuable for Portugal. One of the raw materials that Portugal got from Brazil includes the Brazilwood tree from which dark wood and red dye could be extracted. The Brazilwood was readily available in the Brazilian rainforest where it grew naturally.

The red dye was exported to Europe where it was useful in staining luxurious textile for trading. The dark wood was sought for commercial purposes as well- specifically for sale within the European markets. The Portugal colonial system was also interested in growing sugar cane from Brazil for use in making of wine and for exporting to Portugal. An interest in other agricultural products of the nature of cash crops also interested the Portugal royal government that was reigning under the king Manuel 1 to take up Brazil as a colony. The cash crops drawn from Brazil included cotton and tobacco.

These two cash crops were exported to Europe for sale in the European market. Portugal was interested in Brazil due to the prospect of getting slaves for labor and trade. The plantations in Europe required free labor that slaves could provide. Portugal marked Brazil as a potential area where for getting slaves for their plantations in Europe or for trading them. Even though the Portugal authorities had managed to transact some of the slaves with a Brazilian origin, the coming of the Jesuits in Brazil greatly led to the fall of the trade since they were opposed to the trade.

This forced the Portugal authorities to embark on importing slaves from West Africa. At the same time, labor was greatly needed in the sugar plantations in Brazil. The natives provided this labor in exchange of scissors, axes, mirrors and knives while some were captured and forced to provide the labor as slaves (Morris 2006p34). Another reason why Portuguese had an interest in Brazil was because they were hoping to get minerals that they could use for their industries in Portugal or sell them in the European market.

Though initially no minerals were found, some deposits of gold and later diamonds were found in the 18th century in the interior of Brazil by the bandeirantes. The area where gold deposits were found is known as the Minas Gerais mines. Deposits of diamond were found in 1729 in a village known as the Tujico village- the present day Diamantina. The French had expressed an interest n the land of Brazil as it was attracted to the Brazilwood and the prospect of mining some minerals from the land. This forced Portuguese to take up the land for establishing colonial rule in it before the French powers could take it over.

Even though Portuguese had already possessed the land of Brazil, the heavy presence of the French military along the cost of Brazil forced the Portuguese to set the colonial powers and use military power to evacuate the French from the Brazilian coast (Leftwich 1999p156). Effects of Portuguese colonialism in Brazil The presence of the Portuguese colonial power in Brazil affected a number of the native life of the people in Brazil. Colonialism led to the widespread and adoption of the catholic faith in worship. This was a result of the coming of the Jesuits, who were led by the first governor, Tome de Sousa.

The Jesuits made a great representation of the religious enterprise, setting missions within Brazil and actively converting the natives into the catholic faith. Another consequence of the Portuguese colonial powers in Brazil is the death of a great number of people due to wars that pervaded the colony. The natives were opposed to the colonial powers and therefore staged resistances that led to the death of many natives. An example of the native revolts is the Guarani war of the year 1756 where the native were fighting the Portuguese authorities as a protest against slave trade.

The native guaranis were assisted by the Jesuits who also opposed slave trade and labor (Chasteen 2001 p251). The colonial era in Brazil also played a great role in the proliferation of the people of the African origin in Brazil. Since Brazil drew a lot of slaves from the West African region to work within the plantations in Brazil, a very large number of Africans settled within the Brazilian land after the slave trade was abolished since they had no way of going back to Africa even when they were set free (Freyre 2008 p458).

There was a proliferation of infectious diseases that were brought by the colonialist from Europe to Brazil. The natives had no natural immunity against these diseases and this led to the death of a great number of natives from these foreign diseases. The colonial powers also led to the embrace of the sugar cane growing in agricultural sector for export. Since sugar cane had such a high demand within the European market, the expansion of the sugar cane sector drew great profits.

This sector however received a blow and fell once the Dutch and the French started cultivating and exporting sugarcane to the European market. Since Antilles- the area where Dutch and the French produced the sugar was much closer to Europe, the sugar prices fell drastically towards the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century during which time the sugar industry on Brazil fell. The colonial powers within Brazil also led to the founding of the Rio de Janeiro city in the year 1565 by the governor general Estacio de Sa’.

He established Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil in the year 1763 from Salvador. At the same time, a number of changes took place with the cities in Brazil. The estados – states- in Brazil had been divided and separated so that they were headed by the city council prior to the year 1763. The city councils were composed of top figures within the Brazilian land including the merchants, land owners and business men. Since Brazil was to big to be administered by the royal government, there arose a need to divide this area into smaller estates.

The states of Brasil, Maranhao, and Grao-para were unified into Brazilian viceroyalty in the year 1763 and Rio de Janeiro was set as the capital of these cities. This helped to destroy the divisions that were created in the early days of the colonial invasion (Freyre 2008 p457). There was the creation of a number of towns in south Brazil. Some of the towns created include Colonia de Sacramento, Alores islands, and Porto Alegre among other towns. As essay shows, there are a number of major changes that took place with the expansion of the Portuguese power in Brazil.

The native Brazilians abandoned their cultural way of life and adopted the life that the Portuguese were living in terms of dress code, food eaten, and the religion adopted (Keller 2006p517). Conclusion Expansion of the European powers into the rest of the world during the colonial era led to major changes and experiences into the areas that these countries set their colonial power. In the case of Brazil, changes that took place were experienced over the whole range of the living including their social living, political life and religion among other areas. The effect of the colonial powers is still felt in Brazil to the present day.

References Chasteen J (2001) Born in blood and fire: a concise history of Latin America, Norton p251 Freyre G (2008) The masters and the slaves (Casa-grande & senzala) Brazilian civilization, University of Texas p457, 458 Keller (2006) Colonization study, founding of new societies. Ginn & Company p517 Leftwich A (1999) Redefining politics; populace, property, and power, Taylor & Francis p156 Morris H (2006) History of Colonialism from the Earliest Times Present Day, University of Michigan p34 Sweet W (2007) A history of Latin America. The Abingdon Press p233

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