The story

Straw War

Straw War



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The call Straw War, Canudos Revolution or Straws Uprising, was the confrontation between a popular movement of socio-religious background and the Army of the Republic, which lasted from 1896 to 1897, in the then community of Canudos, in the interior of the state of Bahia, Brazil.

The episode was the result of a series of factors such as the severe economic and social crisis in the region at the time, historically characterized by the presence of unproductive large estates, a situation aggravated by the occurrence of cyclical droughts, chronic unemployment; for the belief in a miraculous salvation that would spare the humble inhabitants of the hinterland from the scourges of the climate and economic and social exclusion.

Initially, in Canudos, the sertanejos did not contest the newly adopted republican regime in the country; there were only sporadic mobilizations against the municipalization of tax collection. The press, clergy and landlords of the region were troubled by a new independent city and the constant migration of people and values ​​to that new place began to accuse them of it, thus gaining the support of the country's public opinion. to justify the war against the camp of Canudos and its inhabitants.

Gradually, a misguided image was built around Antonio Conselheiro and his supporters that they were all "dangerous monarchists" in the service of foreign powers, wanting to restore the imperial regime in the country, due, among others, to the fact that the Brazilian Army left defeated in three expeditions, including one led by Colonel Antonio Moreira Cesar, also known as "jigsaw puzzles" for repeating the execution of more than 100 people in the crackdown on the Federalist Revolution in Santa Catarina, an expedition with over 1,000 men.

The defeat of the army troops in the first expeditions against the village frightened the country, and gave legitimacy for the perpetration of this massacre that culminated in the death of more than six thousand backlanders. All houses were burned and destroyed.

Canudos was a small village that emerged during the 18th century on the banks of the river Vaza-Barris. With the arrival of Antonio Conselheiro in 1893 began to grow dramatically, in a few years counting to around 25 000 inhabitants. Antonio Conselheiro renamed the site of Belo Monte, despite being situated in a valley, between hills.

The situation in the region at the time was very precarious due to drought, famine, poverty and social violence. This scenario, added to the high religiosity of the sertanejos, triggered a series of social disturbances, which, in view of the inability of the powers constituted to counter them, led to a greater conflict.


Canudos settlement, Bahia, Brazil.

The figure of Antonio Counselor

Antonio Vicente Mendes Maciel, nicknamed "Antonio Counselor", born in Quixeramobim (CE) on March 13, 1830, from a traditional family living in the backlands between Quixeramobim and Boa Viagem, former trader, teacher and practical lawyer in the backlands of Ipu and Sobral.

After his wife abandoned him in favor of a public sergeant, he began to wander the backcountry for twenty-five years. He arrived in Canudos in 1893, becoming a village leader and attracting thousands of people. He believed that he was an envoy of God to end social differences and taxation.

He also believed that the "Republic" (then newly established in the country) was the materialization of the "Anti-Christ" kingdom on earth, since the secular government would be a desecration of the authority of the Catholic Church to legitimize the rulers. Violent taxation, the celebration of civil marriage, the separation of church and state were all evidence of the nearness of the "end of the world."

Slavery had ended a few years earlier in the country, and on the roads and backlands, groups of former slaves roamed, excluded from access to land and with limited job opportunities. Like the backcountry caboclos, these poor people clustered around the pilgrim's discourse. "Good Jesus"(another nickname of Counselor), who survived by alms, and traveled the Sertão.

The newly installed government of the Republic wanted money to materialize its plans, and was only present for tax collection. For Counselor and most people living in this area, the world was nearing its end. With these ideas in mind, Counselor gathered around him a large number of followers who believed that he could really free them from the situation of extreme poverty or guarantee them eternal salvation in the afterlife.