Museum of Migration and Communities

Biographies

In all the surrounding parishes, there was the same desire to emigrate, to go in search of wealth and distant continents. It was a dense dream, a deep ambition that delved into souls, from childhood to old age. Gold from Brazil was part of the tradition and had the prestige of a legend among the rude and simple spirits. They saw it flourishing in churches, mansions, schools, bridges and new roads that the wealthy men on the other side of the Atlantic ordered to be executed. They saw it rise, glittering, dazzling, in coins the size of the sun as it melted into the horizon, precisely on the sides where the marvelous country should have been. And there was no hope of great prosperity that wasn’t cemented with that gold that sprang up in the distance, uninterruptedly. There was even discouragement, little perseverance in the work of the native land, because no one had faith, no one, that this would compensate for grief and fatigue. A magic word, Brazil exercised a spell there and its evocation alone was the reason for splendorous visions, dazzling opulences and liberated lives. Subject to a daily livelihood, suffering a paltry existence, the villages dreamed of redeeming themselves, from the flowering meadows to the backs of the mountains, for the gold conquered in the distant country. That idea resided within the breast of every man and was implacable pride even in the feelings of the most terrified. It came from great-grandparents, even further away; inherited and bequeathed, dragging itself through life like a disquieting weight. All generations were born with that aspiration, which became uncomfortable when it was not realized. It crouched in the corner of the soul, as a talisman, usable in moments of defiance of luck, or as a staff, for moments of desperate solutions»