Sao Paulo / By extension and population, Brazil is the largest country in Latin America. However, its inhabitants are those who identify least as Latin Americans in the region, according to the study “The Americas and the world, public opinion and foreign policy.”
The results of the investigation, advanced to Efe, reflect that only 4.2% of Brazilians define themselves as Latin Americans.
According to the survey conducted earlier this year to 1,849 Brazilians, 80.6% declared themselves Brazilian; 11.4%, “citizen of the world” and only 4.2% defined themselves as Latin Americans, according to the data offered by the professor of the University of Sao Paulo, Feliciano de Sá Guimaraes.
These figures contrast with those of the other countries analyzed (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru), where the percentage of people who identified themselves as Latin Americans was from 38% (Chile) to 59% (Colombia) in the last edition (2015), when the result of Brazil was also 4%.
Although the new data of the rest of the countries have not been extracted yet, another researcher of the study, the professor of the ABC University of Sao Paulo, Ivan Filipe Lopes, explained to EFE that no significant variation is expected, since it is something “structural” .
Lopes assessed the great disparity between Brazil and the rest of the countries as “quite strong, but not surprising”: “Brazil has always been the country that identifies least with Latin America,” he said.
“Memorial of Latin America” in Brazil
With the aim of reversing this genuine feeling of the Brazilians, the Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro devised in 1989 the “Memorial of Latin America”, a giant complex located in the center of Sao Paulo (Brazil) which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
In its 85,000 square meters of surface area (the equivalent of more than 11 football fields), there are five buildings designed by the emblematic Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer that give shelter to specialized archives, exhibitions and shows about Latin American culture.
The objective was always “the integration of Brazil in the region,” the director of the memorial, Jorge Damiao, explains in an interview with Efe: “Our team gets up, eats and goes home thinking about it”, he said.
As a specialist, the researcher Lopes exposed some of the causes that explain this challenge, such as those related to the geographical factor.
The expert explained that, although the South American giant borders with ten other Latin countries, its border areas are practically depopulated, so they have no impact on the daily lives of Brazilians.
History and colonization: key factors
However, the highlight for Lopes is the historical component that emerges from the colonial experience, which marked the identity of the peoples of the continent in a very different way.
Specifically, Brazilians are marked by the transfer of the Portuguese crown to Rio de Janeiro in 1808, before the declaration of independence of Brazil (1822).
According to the specialist, this fact installed a capital in the territory that maintained an empire of European dynasty throughout the nineteenth century, while the rest of the countries of the region fought against Spanish domination for the independence of their republics, which founded a feeling of unity.
“This created a Brazilian identity, especially among the elites, who always saw Europe as a model and Latin America as barbarism,” said the specialist.
This seed was followed by a diplomatic history that had as a priority the most developed countries, especially the United States, while regional integration processes such as Mercosur had “a much lower than expected success,” according to Lopes.
This is the scenario that the Latin American Memorial intends to reverse through initiatives such as the free Spanish classes taught at its Latin-American Library.
And, as Jorge Damiao explained, language is another great barrier that hinders cultural exchange.
According to the latest annual report published by the Instituto Cervantes in 2018, it is estimated that only about 6.7 million people speak or study Spanish in Brazil, which translates to around 3% of the population.
The director claimed that this language should be compulsory education in schools in Brazil and criticized the low educational level of the country, which means that many of its inhabitants do not know “what countries are part of Latin America.” (May 24, 2019. EFE / Practica Español)
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