A Taste of Dixie in Brazil In Americana, They Wave the Confederate Flag--With Some Reservations
By Stephen Buckley
Washington Post Foreign Service
Sunday, August 22, 1999; Page A23
AMERICANA, Brazil-Every year, at a secluded cemetery hemmed in by soothing hills of sugar cane, hundreds of Brazilians converge on this factory town to throw a party, complete with deep-fried chicken and biscuits, corn bread and candied apples.
There's banjo music and billowing, Southern-belle skirts and lots of jokes, mostly good-natured, at the expense of Yankees. These Brazilian partygoers have names like Jones and Pyles and Steagall. And there are lots of Confederate flags.
"It's ironic, I know," said Allison Jones, who attends the April party every year, "that we come to a cemetery to keep our heritage alive."
The celebrants, whose ancestors abandoned the American South for Brazil after the Civil War, worry a lot about their heritage these days. They worry about being shunned by other Brazilians, for whom the American Confederacy represents racism, slavery and unwelcome controversy.
And they worry about today's generation of confederados, as these Brazilians of American ancestry call themselves. Many are not much interested in the history and traditions that their elders have struggled to pass on.
"I know about the outlaws and the racists [in America] who go around with the flag flying on their trucks," said Jones, 56, whose family was among the first to move here, in 1866. "I'm not one of those. That flag to me means the good memories and good habits cultivated and inherited from my ancestors. It's got nothing to do with racism and outlawness."
John C. Rigdon