From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Republic of Pernambuco
República de Pernambuco
Largest CityRecife
Population25 million
Government TypeFederal republic
LanguagesPortuguese (official)

Pernambuco, officially the Republic of Pernambuco (Portuguese: República de Pernambuco) is a country located in northeastern South America. It borders Bahia to the south and Equador to the west. It comprises ten states and a capital district where Recife, the capital and largest city, is located. Culturally, Pernambuco is a mix of indigenous American, African, and European elements.


Pernambucan Independence

Differently from the other luso-american countries, Pernambuco didn't gain independence from Portugal, but from another south american country, Equador. In the mid 1877 Equador’s army successfully expelled the last Portuguese holding in the continent. The new Republic of Equador government was unstable and problematic. Power struggles were common and the government lost trust from the people due to the lack of transparency.  

In December 1877 protesters gathered in front of the government palace in Recife. It's unknown who shot, coming from government orders or not, a bullet was shot from the palace and killed a protester. The shooting became the trigger to a series of riots that later escalated in full revolt. In 1878, the rebels started to receive aid from Bahia. The Bahian government felt sympathetic to the Pernambucan cause, especially due to cultural similarities between the two nations. Some Bahian politicians even supported the idea to fully annex Pernambuco when free.

South Tussenland also helped the Pernambucans by being one of the first countries to recognize Pernambuco as independent, and sent around three hundred volunteers to aid in the fighting (Also hoping this action would open the new country to Zoekerism). After 5 years of fighting, Pernambuco gained independence from Equador in 1882. Being recognized in the same year. The new country annexed everything east of Grão-Pará and established Recife as its capital.

Pernambuco early independent period (1882-1916)

In the first years as an independent nation, Pernambuco faced a myriad of issues. Poverty affected much of the population, the country had little infrastructure, and faced one of the worst droughts in record. The government was initially ruled by a military junta of influential individuals that got recognition during the independence war. In 1885, the first national direct election was held, but without the totality of the adult male population voting. The dispute ends up once again with the military taking control of the executive power.

The Cangaço in the Sertões

The Cangaço was an armed movement involving nomadic groups which invaded and looted towns, villages and large scale plantations in Pernambuco and Bahia. These armed groups took advantage of the political instability of the Pernambucan independence from Equador in the late 1870s and early 1880s to start their activities.

Historians usually disagree on how the Cangaceiros should be seen today. For some, they were a result of the social issues the Sertões faced at the end of the 19th century. At that time, the region was controlled by large landowners, social inequality was strident, and an almost stamental society. Others might say that these people were just bloodthirsty criminals that only left death and destruction anywhere they went.  

Modernization of the former colony

After the independence, it was necessary to make Pernambuco have enough resources to rule itself. The former Portuguese colonial policies were harsh, and had the goal to make the colonies never self-sufficient.

To build public buildings, schools, universities and infrastructure, Pernambuco needed to borrow money from foreign nations. In the period of two decades beyond 1882, Pernambuco passed through a series of modernization and development. The country sponsored artistic and scientific expeditions to non-Portuguese scientists and artists (Portuguese law forbade people of other descent enter in the colonies beyond the city ports). The first university was built in Recife, with focus on Law, Medicine and Mathematics.

Economically, Pernambuco for most of its history was an agrarian nation, exporting products such as sugar, cotton, meat and salt. In the early 20th century, Pernambuco made economic deals promoting economic privileges to raw materials in exchange to investments on textile industries in the cotton producing state of Maranhão, mining in the Sertão, railroad construction and many other sectors.

The Oliver Brown Question

1915 marked the beginning of a complete shift on Pernambuco economical and social situation. In this year, the British aspiring writer Oliver Brown's death in the Pernambucan Sertão started a chain of events that changed the country’s fate.

Oliver Brown expedition

Brown was born in a high middle class family in Manchester, England, in 1878. He started his writer career writing articles for a local newspaper, but although in a comfortable position, Brown craved for more. In 1913, he finally gathered enough money to travel to South America to write about life in different countries of the continent in an informative book. He started his way in Carolina, then Portuguese Brazil and Bahia, but was in Pernambuco where his journey would come to an end.

In June 1915, ignoring recommendations from the British Consulate in Recife, Brown hired two guides/bodyguards and traveled to the interior of the country. The trio arrived days later in the town of Rancho Novo, around two hundred kilometers from Recife. It’s unknown from whom the information about Brown arrival in the town became known by a cangaço group nearby, the best hypothesis is that the group might have had an informer among the town citizens.

In the search of anything valuable in possession of Brown, the group stormed the town the next night, invaded the house where Brown and his two guides were and killed the trio.

Anglo-Pernambucan war on banditry

After a week of delay on the scheduled return to Recife, the British Consulate became worried of what might have happened, and asked for an investigation by the Pernambucan government. Later on it was discovered that Brown was killed. The news soon arrived in London and outraged Britain as a whole. In December 1915, a Anglo-Pernambucan committee gathered in Recife to discuss what should be made. The British were interested in sending an expeditionary force inside Pernambuco to deal with the bandits, but the Pernambucan government was reluctant to send an army to the Sertão. After days of discussion, it was decided that an expeditionary force would be sent to Pernambuco, and Britain would assist the South American nation in dealing with its problematic countryside, invest in infrastructure, especially railroads and modernize the outdated Pernambucan warfare. In exchange, the Recife-London Partnership Deal was established, tying the Pernambuco economy almost totally to Britain and its allied nations.

In January 1916, an expeditionary force with men from Guyana and Carolina arrived in Pernambuco. Using modern equipment against the outdated cangaço warfare and mapping the region using the advantage of hot air balloons, soon the nomadic groups were either killed, captured or expelled from the country in a time span of five years.

Effects of the Recife-London Partnership Deal

A 1917 map showing the projected Pernambucan railroad grid. Due to economic problems, the final projected result wasn't reached.

In March 1916, the Recife-London Partnership Deal was signed. From 1916 to 1922, the deal with Britain resulted in a heavy upgrade in Pernambuco infrastructure, especially in the terms of transportation and urbanization.

During this period, the Recife port started to receive tax reduced imported industrialized British goods. In the interior, the construction of railroads connected towns and cities to the main ports reducing the costs and time spent on travels and cargo transportation between places.

On the other hand, the influx of industrialized goods made hundreds of local small businesses close due the inability to compete on the market, therefore forcing workers to move to foreign ruled factories. In the countryside, the arrival of industrialized furniture, textiles, clothes and shoes, made the local manufacture end.

Unsteady Years (1920-1940)

By 1920, the promises of progress brought by the deal with the British were far from being accomplished. Most of the positive economic results were concentrated on the east coast of the country, more specifically around the cities of Recife, Olinda, Parahiba, and Natal, which became rapidly wealthier due to the newly established industrial sites.

Industrialization started a process of rural migration, which resulted in the urban population rising quickly and the creation of the first slums. Urban life was also transformed as a result of the creation of the first worker unions and communard societies, inspired by the regime established in France in the late 19th century as an alternative to ease the lives of Pernambucan workers.

The popularity of these societies grew as strikes and public demonstrations were promoted. In 1923, the official first Communard party was created in Recife by calling for better work conditions and more rights for the worker class. However, the party was not able to gain enough seats in the Pernambucan government.

Inspired by the Russian Revolution in the 1920s, Pernambuco also saw the development of the first National Republican cells. Both communards and national republicans defended a process colloquially called  desbritanização , Portuguese for something around the lines of debritishing. The idea was to fight against the heavy British influence over the country in the economy, politics, and culture. By the end of the process, defenders say, a real independent nation.

In 1935, as the Great War broke out by Franco-Austrian aggression in Europe, the Pernambucan government under President José Cavalcanti adopted a strong pro-British foreign policy by cutting diplomatic ties with the Tripartite Coalition nations and used the opportunity to persecute Communardism in the country by declaring the ideology a threat to the order and the state. On the other hand, National Republicanism flourished in Pernambuco at the time, as Russia was among the members of the Cordial League alongside Britain and was tolerated by the government.

Once the Great War ended in 1939, the Silent War between the Anglo-led world and National Republican Russia. Pernambuco, although declaring itself neutral in the conflict, was close both economically and politically to the United Kingdom and the Organization of Democratic Nations (ODN).