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Tamar Najarian

The Armenians settled in Brazil in the second half of the 19th century. In 1885 the number of the Armenians was 100. The bigger groups of our compatriots arrived to Brazil in 1920s and settled mainly in San-Paulo and other cities of the similar state. In 1994 the number of the Armenians in Brazil was 20 thousand. There are currently around 43,000 Armenians living in Brazil. About 600 Armenians live in Rio de Janeiro and about 300 Armenians in the capital Brasilia.

Armenian immigrants in Brazil are currently mostly in and around the city of São Paulo, where there are churches, cultural centers, and even a subway station named Armenia. The Armenian community maintains a strong presence in the city, albeit not in the country as a whole. Some people of Armenian descent have become famous in arts and politics, such as Senator Pedro Pedrossian, actress Aracy Balabanian and actor and politician Stepan Nercessian.

Armenians in Latin America arranged a demonstration in Brazil, in the city of São Paulo at the Armenian Genocide monument on April 24, 1965 for the 50th Anniversary of enduring the Law of Relocation. They also put on a play titled “The Adventures of Armenians 1915”, written and acted out by the Armenians of Brazil at a theater in São Paulo.

“Even though the first wave of the massacred reached Brazil before 1920, there were some Armenians who had arrived in Brazil before 1900 and were considered the pioneers. Mihran Latifyan, also known as Mihran Latif, arrived in Rio de Janeiro in 1879 when Brazil was still a monarchy. He was born in 1856 in Istanbul and graduated from the Engineering Faculty at Cant University of Belgium. He had Brazilian friends. During his visit to Brazil, he met the sister of one of his friends and they got married. Latifyan built railways in the Brazilian states of Minas Jerays, Pernambuku and Seara. In Rio de Janeiro, he built the Imperatriz Leopoldina railway and the Avenida Beira Mar Avenue. He received a medal of honor for his services. Latifyan had relations in Brazil and other countries. He died suddenly in front of his guests and family members on his 73rd birthday in 1929. The next day, the Correio de Manhã newspaper released a long article on his glorious life. Small groups of Armenians arrived from Kharberd and Van after Mihran Latif.

Some Armenians moved from Riu Grandi Du Sul to San Paolo and found their compatriots there. They started out as merchants and went on to become store owners. After becoming financially successful, some tried to return to Kharberd in 1894, but they were forced to return due to the massacres in 1895-96.

Returning to Brazil in 1897, the brothers Gasparyan opened a textile store called Casa Armenia. The daughter of one of the brothers got married to another pioneer by the name of Vahram Kotanjyan, who had established the Lanificio Vahram wool store, and those industries marked their era. Today, there are 200 Gasparyans.

Georgi Tahanyan was another pioneer who came to San Paolo from Aleppo in 1895. Starting as a worker at a metal processing workshop, he went on to become the manager and then the director’s partner. In 1898, he was the owner of the metal store called Casa da Bóia – Indústria e Comércio de Artefatos de Metais. The store is already 117 years old. Tahanyan is also one of the well-known benefactors of the Armenian community.

The main flow of Armenian emigrants began from Syria and Lebanon after 1920. Most of them came from the historical Cilicia and settled in Santus. Some settled in Rio de Janeiro and most of them moved to San Paolo and Ozasku. The Armenians have settled in 40 cities of San Paolo, In addition, they have moved to the Brazilian states of Minas Jerais, Matu Grosu and Seara.

Armenian emigrants, as well as others, started out by doing whatever they could and slowly began to work as traders and in the textile industry.

After a while, they also began to work in other spheres and went on to become political figures, businessmen, financiers, bankers and scientists.” http://en.hayernaysor.am/1315220072

Sao Jose do Rio Preto now includes Armenia Square, built in commemoration of those who perished in the Armenian genocide and the contributions of the surviving families in Brazil since 1928. The city is situated in the region of Sao Paulo, with 400 Armenian residents.

Armenian grapes from the Araratian Valley and Goris are also grown in Brazil, under the name of Uva Armenia.


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