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Rebellion in the Sertão
A few years before, the Empire had been abolished and the Brazilian Republic was founded. One of the first measures taken was the introduction of a local tax. The Conselheiro agitated against it and claimed rejection in public. At this point the state's sense of humour comes to an end, especially if it is ruled by army officers.
The Conselheiro accompagnied by his followers fled to the Fazenda canudos nearby Belo Monte - somewhere in the Sertão, the dry backland of Bahia, where it sometimes does not rain for years.
Soon it got around where he was and many joined him, former slaves, day labourers, overindebted farmers. In 1895 they already were 25,000, so that Canudos became, after the capital, the second-biggest settlement of Bahia.
In November 1896 the generals sent their soldiers. But the people of Canudos were defending themselves and chased the armed forces away. Three punitive expeditions failed this way.
Until finally Rio sent an army of 10,000 soldiers under the command of general Artur Guimarães into the Sertão. They were shooting onto the settlement with cannons and dynamite bombs and succeeded to conquer it after three months of occupation on 5th October 1897.
5,000 soldiers were killed during the battles. Thus the revenge of the victors had been dreadful. They massacred almost all men and enslaved or sold their wifes and children.
Some who survived were taken away to Rio, where they settled onto the hills nearby the city centre. That's how the notion of Favela came into use, as Favela is the name of a plant from the Sertão.
The Conselheiro himself had already died a few weeks before the conquest. For a long time in Brazil, they tried to hush up his person and Canudos. As it came up again and was talked about anew in the sixties, the military government, in 1968, got the the whole area overflown with water as an artificial lake. In 1996, though, the ruins re-emerged after a particularly long dry season.
Books about Canudos