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Brazil’s White-Majority South Gains Momentum in Independence Bid

 
 
 
 
 
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Inspired by the separatist vote in Catalonia, secessionists in three wealthy southern Brazilian states are redoubling their efforts to break away from the crisis-battered nation.

Residents of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Parana states are being called to vote in an informal plebiscite on Oct. 7 on whether they want independence. Organizers are also urging residents of the three states to sign a legislative proposal for each of their regional assemblies that would call for a formal, binding referendum. The non-profit group “The South is My Country” aims to mobilize a million voters in 900 out of the region’s 1,191 cities.

Whiter and richer than the rest of Brazil, these southern states with cooler weather have long nursed separatist ambitions. Rio Grande do Sul even briefly claimed independence 180 years ago. Few Brazilians expect the current movement to succeed any time soon, not least because it is prohibited by the Constitution. But the country’s deepest recession on record and a massive corruption scandal have exacerbated the region’s longstanding resentment towards the federal government in Brasilia. With just one year to go until general elections, the rekindling of separatist sentiment in the south is another indicator of the unsettled state of Brazilian politics.

Rio Grande do Sul is currently immersed in a financial crisis and has lost much of its economic clout, according to Fernando Schuler, a professor of political science at Insper University in Sao Paulo.

“There’s a huge cultural detachment between the Tropicalia Brazil and the South,” he said. “The reasons for separation are solid, justifiable, but I don’t think they are viable.”

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