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Três trópicos da tropicália


As children we learned that Brazil was discovered by the Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvarez Cabral on April22, 1500. All other American nations consider it enough to have been discovered together by Christopher Columbus im 1492. It was only Brazil that had to be discovered later, separately. From the earliest age, as a child in Santo Amaro da Purificação in Bahia, I had to ask: “Why?”

They could have said, for example, that Columbus did not sail farther than the Caribbean islands and that the continent proper was only arrived at by the Portuguese eight years later; they could have told us that what Cabral discovered was the existence of South America, of which the Spaniards had not the slightest idea. But no: they say Brazil appeared as an independent continent, a huge island in the middle of the South Atlantic, a surprise for those Lusitanian sailors who, aiming to follow the coast of Africa to reach the Indies, sailed too far wesr. That such a vaguely defined event should be situated so precisely in the middle od the second millennium servers to force upon Brazilians a sense of themselves as a nation both unsubstantiated and exaggerated. The United States is a country without a name: America is the name of the continent where, among others, the states that were once English colonies united. Brazil is a name without a country. The English seem to have stolen the name of the continent and given it to the country they founded. The Portuguese seem not to have really founded a country, but managed to suggest that they landed in a part of America that was absolutely Other, and they called it Brazil.

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Três trópicos da tropicália