At the end of the 19th century, the proclamation of the Republic in Brazilian lands did not mean the immediate reach of the transformations that, theoretically, would follow the change of our political regime. Even at that time, the northeastern hinterland was the scene of terrible social and economic contrasts. On the one hand, large families concentrated the ownership of land and disputed political power among themselves. On the other hand, poor sertanejos lived in a serious situation of misery and sought to achieve a better life.
In this context marked by poverty and oppression, religious belief operated as a way to alleviate the tensions that affected the less favored population. However, official religious representatives did not always occupy this place, as they defended the current order controlled by the restricted population of owners. It was from there that popular religious leaders, such as Antônio Conselheiro, appeared offering a speech and actions of encouragement that were closer to the immediate demand of those sertanejos.
More than a simple blessed ravishing the attention of the sertanejos, Conselheiro did not recognize the republican government as being able to establish the resolution that has plagued reality for decades Northeast. It was in this way that, on the banks of the Vaza-Barris river, he decided to gather his followers to form a community that would live collectively. Not recognizing the taxes, laws and restrictions that the government of little presence had among its members.
It only took a few years of the 1890s for the Councilor community to attract not only the attention of the sertanejos, but also from the authorities, landowners and clerics who understood that situation as a serious affront to Republic. In fact, despite being an avowed devotee of the monarchy, Antonio Conselheiro did not aim to organize a rebellion that would overthrow the new government. His ultimate aspiration was to base himself on Christian morality, and then form an egalitarian community.
However, the sense of threat was soon stronger when official army troops organized to destroy the Canudos community. The first expedition, formed by a hundred men, and the second, even more reinforced, with more than five hundred officers, was soon defeated by the sertanejos who lived there. When the news arrived in the country's capital, the federal government articulated a new onslaught, consisting of more than 1200 soldiers. Once again, in March 1897, the sertanejos stood out.
In order for the unrest to be contained, the Army then had to determine an even more extensive military formation, composed of a contingent exceeding six thousand soldiers. Furthermore, the use of eighteen cannons determined that what had been configured until then as a conflict would turn into a real carnage. On October 5, 1897, the violence was finally carried out, when no one was left alive in that place.
By Rainer Sousa
Master in History
Brazil School Team
20th century - wars - Brazil School
Source: Brazil School - https://brasilescola.uol.com.br/guerras/a-guerra-canudos.htm