Amazon Basin, Brazil, South America

Brazil – Villa-Lobos, The Amazon’s Faithful Witness

Brazil, 500 Cruzados, front

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From wikipedia:  He was ….coming to terms with the conflicting elements in his experience, and overcoming a crisis of identity, as to whether European or Brazilian music would dominate his style. This was decided by 1916, the year in which he composed the symphonic poems Amazonas and Tédio de alvorada, the first version of what would become Uirapurú (although Amazonas was not performed until 1929, and Uirapurú was only completed in 1934 and first performed in 1935). These works drew from native Brazilian legends and the use of “primitive” folk material. 

The Musical score, “Uirapuru“, is mingled with the floating Vitoria Regia in this illustration on our banknote, such that it’s not clear if the music is background or foreground to the Amazon’s floating lily pads, for they are as equal.  And that “mingling” is depicted beside the mind of the master, as, perhaps, emanating from him; or perhaps, he is merely a witness of the Amazon’s grandeur, and his score is his faithful chronicle.

The keyboard, depicted on our banknote, is oriented unexpectedly, but, likely, perfectly.  For it is the Amazon that produces the music upon our instruments.  And, perhaps, it’s not so much that we create the music, as that the music is there, and it is discovered.

The piece was dedicated to Serge Lifar, the Ukrainian ballet choreographer and dancer, following his ensemble’s performance to the music.
The Victoria Regia is the 2 meter diameter lily pad of the Amazon, and the Uirapuru is the indigenous bird of jungle legend.

 

 

 

 

Caribbean Coast, South America, Venezuela

Venezuela – Look Alikes, Hyperinflation and Unconcerned Birds

October 29, 2013 100 Bolivares banknote, front, Venezuela
December 7, 2017 100 Thousand Bolivares banknote, front, Venezuela

The banknote on the left was issued in late 2013. The banknote on the right was issued in late 2017.  The denominations, bolivares, are the same.

 

The front and back images are the same.  The left banknote is more beige in color and the right banknote is more yellow in color.

Both banknotes have the numeral 100 displayed prominently.  The banknote on the right, however, adds the word “mil”, thousand, after the word “cien”, hundred.  The banknote on the left is 100 Bolivares.  The banknote on the right is 100,000 Bolivares.

At the time of issuance of the 100 bolivares banknote in 2013, it was equivalent to approximately 10 US dollars.  So that means that, at that time, 100,000 bolivares would buy pretty much the same thing as would 10,000 US dollars.

At the time of issuance of the 100,000 bolivares banknote in 2017, it was equivalent to about 1 US dollar.

That means that, in December 2017, it takes ten times 100,000 bolivares, or 1 million bolivares, to buy what could be bought for 100 bolivares just 4 years ago, in 2013.  Another way of saying this that the value of the bolivares has been divided by 10,000; or, yet another way of saying this, is that, the price of things to buy in Venezuela have gone up by a factor of 10,000, in 4 years.  Life today is ten thousand times more expensive then it was 4 years ago.  And, think of this, Venezuela has the largest known oil reserves in the world.  Why then, is it not among the richest nations of the world?

 

detail from back of 100 bolivares banknote, Venezuela (2013)

Said a man of old: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”  This is natural Law.  Hyperinflation occurs when men make a mess of things.

image from internet

The birds illustrated on the back of our banknotes are Cardenalitos.  They are native to Venezuela in Parque Nacional El Avila and found also in verly limited surrounding areas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bolivia, Uncategorized

Bolivia – Juana Azurduy, The Flower of Alto Peru

 

1000 bolivianos banknote, front, Bolivia, featuring portrait of Juana Azurduy de Padilla

Honoring Juana Azurduy, a 52 foot high statue, a gift from Bolivia, has been installed in Argentina, replacing an older and smaller statue of Christopher Columbus. It is the largest statue in Argentina.

Who is Juana Azurduy?

 

Juana Azurduy in military uniform, detail from front of 1000 bolivianos banknote, Bolivia

Juana Azurduy, the “flower of alto Peru”, the “terror of the Spanish”, knew exactly what she wanted when, at 24 years of age, she wed Manuel de Padilla. Padilla, just 4 years her senior already had a well-developed disdain for the rule of the Spanish, a love of the people, and experience in the army and law. With him she would enter the military and with him she would liberate her people from Spanish rule. She trained and excelled in swordsmanship and marksmanship and horsemanship. When independence was declared 4 years into their marriage, they were ready. Bringing her children with her, and putting her hair up under her hat and wearing the traditional male uniform, Juana went to war.

What was the source of her passion and when was her inner fire kindled? The details of her childhood are limited, but enough that perhaps we can see the outlines … the origin of her fire. She was born mestiza, one parent Spanish and the other indigenous. Which was which we don’t seem to know, but we are told her father was killed by the Spanish without repercussion or justice, when she was very young. Not long after her mother died of causes unknown and young Juana was sent to live with an aunt. Was her aunt on her mother’s side and Spanish, we do not know, but we do know that her aunt sent young Juana, perhaps 12 years old, to live in a convent. The convent no doubt was catholic and run by the Spanish. We next learn that teenaged Juana was clandestinely organizing students to study together the lives of revolutionaries against the domination of the Spaniards, most notably Tupac Amaru, and she was expelled from the convent at age 17.

One can imagine young Juana ruminating over the killing of her papa by the unaccountable Spanish invaders. One can see her mourning the loss of her mother when she needed her the most. One can imagine her anger at her aunt, perhaps Spanish too, for thinking her too much trouble and sending her to the convent. And one can understand her rebelling against the strictures of convent life. Juana flowered into adulthood loving her people and bitter against the Spanish, determined to see things change. And so, it was in 1810, on the very day that independence from Spain was declared, Juana Adzurduy and her husband Manuel de Padilla joined the revolutionary army.

The initial 1810 revolutionary group was halted by the Spanish royalists; and the Padillas joined the army of the north to continue the fight. In 1811, they suffered a defeat in battle and the Padilla’s 4 children were captured, their property overrun, and their harvest and profits were confiscated. But Manuel rescued the children and returned to the battle.

Coat of Arms, Bolivia, detail from front of 1000 bolvianos banknote. Cerro Richo, the silver mountain which Juana Azurduy captured. Inti in the form of the sun is rising. The llama, in the bottom left is the national animal, and carried silver from the mines of Cerro Richo.

In 1812 the Padillas joined the newly reconstituted army of the north and Manuel was made a military commander. By 1816 Juana was leading troops into battle. In March, she captured the region which was the prime source of Spanish Silver. During the battle she personally led a Calvary charge which captured the enemy standard. After this battle, she was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and was personally, honored by General Manuel Belgrano, who gifted her with his own sword.

Later that year, her children were captured, the 2 sons killed outright and the 2 daughters held as hostage. Azurduy and Padilla mounted a ferocious raid to rescue them but the children were killed and Juana was injured in the attempt. Later that same year Manuel Padilla was captured and killed. Juana Azurduy swore over her husband’s corpse to continue to fight and continued as one of the most violent warriors on the field, earning the moniker “the Terror of the Spanish”.

In 1818, she was forced to withdraw with her forces to northern Argentina where she continued the fight under the command of General Guermes. She was appointed commander of the patriotic northern Army of the Revolutionary Government of the United Provinces of the Rio de la Plata. With the army she was able to force the withdrawal of the Spanish forces from the region.

Juana Azurduy, “The Flower of Alto Peru”, “The Terror of the Spanish”, detail from front of 1000 bolivianos banknote, Bolivia

The estimated strength of her army at its maximum was about 6,000 men under her command. She was so determined for the cause that she actually fought while she was pregnant, at one point, giving birth to her daughter, then returning to the fight soon after. Following the war, she returned to Sucre and there was reduced to poverty.

In 1825 Simón Bolívar, known as the Liberator visited her. Seeing her impoverished conditions, he was embarrassed, and promoted her to the rank of Colonel and provided her with a pension. Following the visit, he remarked to Marshal Antonio José de Sucre: “This country should not be named Bolivia in my honor, but Padilla or Azurduy, because it was they who made it free.”

In 2009, Juana Azurduy was named General (posthumously) of the Argentine Army.

Casa De La Libertad where in 1825 the Republic of Bolivia was created with the signing of The Declaration of Independence. detail from back of 1000 bolivianos banknote, Bolivia

 

A movie has been filmed about her. see here.

Songs are sung about here.  See here for the English translation of the words with some explanatory notes.  See here for a classical performance and here for a dance performance.

The monument can be seen here and below, showing Juana with sword uplifted with one hand, a child on her back and he other hand stretched back protecting her child.

 

 

architectural detail of balcony at Casa de Libertad, Sucre, Bolivia

Juana Azurduy de Padilla International Airport in Sucre is honorably so named.

A blogger I recently read, (and I am sorry I cannot find who it is), asked the question: “Why has my country, Bolivia, been given a woman’s name? Could it be because of the founding influences?” It seems the answer is YES.

 

 

Casa De La Libertad, Sucre, Bolivia

Casa de la Libertad now houses a museum of History of Bolivia!  Follow them on facebook here.  The tours are highly regarded.

 

 

 

Juana Azurduy, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Monument to Juana Azurduy is being relocated a short distance in a renovation project in Buenos Aires.  See a description and map showing the old and new locations here, and confirm before you travel.

Monument, Juana Azurduy

 

 

1000 bolivianos banknote, back, Bolivia
Juana Azurduy, Beloved of Bolivia, front of 1000 bolivianos banknote

 

As always, if you have something to add to this story, or a recommended landmark for visiting, I welcome your comments!

 

Paraguay, Uncategorized

Paraguay – The Gift of the Speratti Sisters, Adela and Celsa

 

paraguay 2000 guaranies reverse (2)
Paraguay 2000 guaranies, back

School children are happily marching in their school uniforms along crowd lined streets.  They proudly carry the flag of their country, the tricolor red, white and blue, after the example of France, standing for Liberty and Independence.  This simple scene was so far from happening until the Speratti sisters came home a little over a century ago.

Their young mother had fled from Paraguay with her two infant daughters, Adela and Celsa. It was the late 1860s and their father had already died in the war that was to eventually claim more than half of the population of Paraguay and essentially all of her educated peoples.  The children were spirited away to Argentina in hope of a better life, where they were educated and flourished and excelled so as to gain renown as graduates twenty years later.

Paraguay, following the war, was devastated.  The national school system had only educated only boys, and now, according to census, only 28,000 adult men were alive.  The schools were closed and the teachers were gone.  A future of national illiteracy, and the associated impoverishment loomed. It was essential to the future of the nation that the educational system be rejuvenated and reformed.

paraguay 2000 guaranies obverse (3)
detail from front of Paragua, 2000 guaranties banknote, Adela y Celsa Speratti

In the ten years following the war, and then the fifteen years and then the twenty years, great efforts were expended in the rebuilding of the educational system. All the while our sisters Speratti were schooled, maturing, graduating and commencing the teaching profession outside the country.

Paraguayan ministers, hearing of their abilities, and in desperation for the reconstruction of the national education system, reached out to these sisters and entrusted them with the education of the country.  We have this letter: “Atanasio Riera, Superintendent of Public Instruction, to Master Teacher, Normal Professor and Senator Don Conrado Romero Corrientes, “I know that there are two daughters of this Nation, Misses Speratti who currently practice the profession in the Normal School of Teachers. They, as daughters of this Nation, who today try to rise up on public illustration, I believe that, inspired by patriotism, they would not hesitate to come and contribute their professional knowledge to the work of regeneration in which we are all interested. See, then, those daughters of the Republic of Paraguay, and tell them that the mother country requires their valuable competition to hasten their march along the paths of knowledge and prosperity.”

And so, these sisters still in their 20s, equipped with acclaimed character traits of diligence and honesty, with talents trained as educators, and energized with a passion for people, commenced upon their work that would give birth to a generation, and then generations of educated men and women in Paraguay.

They began their work in the graduate school for girls, but soon their influence rapidly expanded as they were instrumental in the development of the Normal school for teaches. As Directors, they utilized the influential positions to modernize and advance the educational system. The sisters borrowed from the best educational philosophies and teaching methods from sources worldwide. They educated children, trained teachers and established teaching as an honorable profession attracting many into the noble profession. They educated thousands of illiterate girls throughout the country.
From all the villages of the interior came young people eager to learn, and these eager learners became the seed for the creation of yet later schools for the education of yet later generations of Paraguayan girls.

And teach they did; but not simply teach, they cared, and cared in so many ways.
The sisters regularly offered shelter to poor girls who could not pay their way. They were legendary for working to mitigate the pains of the elderly and sick, and routinely served on the board of one commission or another such as the Society of Charity of the Hospital of Charity. They actively collaborated with Professor Rosa Peña, the wife of President Juan Gualberto González in many activities promoting the national well-being including especially the founding of the National Asylum – an institution created to welcome all the people who had been left by the war in misery. In the course of these years, both Adela and Celsa, also collaborated with their writings in a pedagogical magazine published in Concepción del Uruguay, they spoke at cultural centers and wrote their opinions in local newspapers; but his most laborious cultural tasks consisted in organizing the Pedagogical Conferences as a means of promoting the improvement of the professional knowledge of the teachers of primary education.

paraguay 2000 guaranies obverse (2)
Paraguay, 2000 guarnies, front (1995)

It may not be too much to say that their efforts did more to rejuvenate an impoverished nation than the combined efforts of all her economic ministers, few of whom are remembered today.

Upon their passing, commemorations poured in from the people.  Paeans of praise came forth from national poets at commemorative services.  But perhaps the greatest tribute is this sight of our school children proudly marching and happily singing along the crowd lined streets carrying the flags of a grateful nation, Paraguay.  If you listen closely, you can hear the music.

paraguay 2000 guaranies reverse (2)
Paraguay 2000 guaranies, back