How immigrants and descendants united Prudentopolis into Brazilian Ukraine | Campos Gerais and south

Prudentopolis had not yet been officially established when the first families of immigrants from Ukraine began to settle in the central region of Parana. In the luggage: a dream of a better life, far from the famine that gripped Eastern Europe. The year, according to available historical records, was 1896.

In a nameless country, the “Ukrainization” of space was an inevitable path, as analyzed by Professor and Dr. Anderson Prado, a specialist in immigration and conflicts in Eastern Europe, with special studies including Prudentopolis. look above.

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“They are [imigrantes] began to settle, especially in 1896, when 1,500 families arrived in this region, which belonged to Guarapuava and became Prudentopolis years later. About 6,000 peasants settled in that area.”

Settlement of the first Ukrainian immigrants in São João de Capanema, today Prudentopolis, in April 1896 — Photo: Disclosure/Millennium Museum

To understand how the history of Ukrainians began to gain momentum in Paraná, especially in Prudentopolis, it is necessary to understand what was happening in Brazil and Ukraine at the end of the 19th century.

According to Prado, on the one hand were Ukrainians who came from a historical-geographical region called Galicia and tried to avoid a scenario of extreme poverty.

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Brazil, on the other hand, was nearing the transition from a monarchy to a republic as calls intensified for foreign families to immigrate to the lands of the Puffin to speed up national development.

Prado is a professor at the Federal Institute of Parana (IFPR) in Irati, in the center of the state – Photo: Disclosure

According to the professor, there are records of the arrival of Ukrainians in Brazil in 1881, a few years before the colonization of Prudentopolis.

“But they arrived in large numbers in the ports of Brazil, especially in the port of Paranagua, in 1894, 1895. And they didn’t go straight to Prudentopolis. It still wasn’t in the spotlight. First they go to Paranagua, then to Curitiba.”

After immigration migration

Professor Prado explains that peasant families in Ukraine with a strong agricultural inclination began to spread throughout the state shortly after arriving in Brazil. According to him, among the selected sites were União da Vitória, Cruz Machado and São Mateos do Sul, all of which continue to produce offspring to this day.

The professor specifies that at that time a large group of immigrants settled in the area near Santa Catarina, but still in Paraná. There, in 1895, a colony called Antonio Olinto was born.

Prado’s research shows that over time the colony grew too large and most of the families migrated again, this time to the central region, reaching the point where Prudentopolis would later become. But they were not alone.

A record of the first families that colonized land in what is now Prudentopolis — Photo: Disclosure/Millennium Museum

“[…] Together with the natives, of course, because this region was inhabited not only by Ukrainian immigrants. But above all, for those who had already settled in some parts of Parana, and after this saturation of the colony by Antonio Olinto, they arrived at Prudentopolis, not yet emancipated.

Poles, Germans and Italians also participated in the colonization process, but in smaller numbers. As for Ukrainians specifically, they continued to immigrate, coming to Prudentopolis with small families until mid-1922.

The political emancipation of Prudentopolis took place on August 12, 1906, exactly 10 years after the first immigrants arrived in the region.

Immigrants explored the interior of the state in search of fertile land – Photo: Disclosure / Millennium Museum

Thus, the city officially began its existence at a time when, according to Professor Prado, Ukrainian culture managed to take its first roots on prudent political soil.

“We scholars are very careful with exhaustive comments, but it is possible, yes, to recognize the predominance of Ukrainian culture in Prudentopolis. And for this there were conflicts. Not only among Ukrainians and natives, but also among the Poles, who also came to the region. In much smaller numbers, but they existed.

Immigrants lived off agriculture in the region — Photo: Disclosure/Millennium Museum

From that moment on, Prudentopolis was on its way to becoming the capital of Ukraine on Brazilian soil. The current figures prove merit:

  • According to the Central Ukrainian-Brazilian Representation, of the approximately 600,000 descendants of Ukrainians living in Brazil, the majority live in Prudentopolis.
  • According to the prefecture, out of 52,000 residents, about 39,000 are of Ukrainian origin.

Religion as a guiding thread

Religion, according to Prof. Prado, was a “flying thread” for the predominance of Ukrainian culture and continues to perpetuate itself in Prudentopolis to this day.

Matriz San Josafat is one of 50 Ukrainian churches in the municipality. Vaults are a hallmark of sanctuary architecture — Photo: Disclosure / Paróquia São Josafat

Not surprisingly, a survey conducted by the mayor’s office shows that out of more than 100 churches in the city, at least 50 belong to the Ukrainian Byzantine rite, thanks to which Prudentopolis received the legally recognized status of the capital of prayer.

“Religion was the guiding thread for homogenizing the community. Priests came here, founded parishes, they are going to found schools together with the parishes […] and priests become almost mayors of these communities. They will lead, they will arrange marriages, they will determine. And it is always interesting to think that religious rites belong to the homeland. Always Ukraine. Feeling that “I am here, but I belong to another people.”

Many churches of the Byzantine rite in Prudentopolis are engraved with a phrase in Ukrainian that means “God is with us” — Photo: Arquivo/Caminhos do Campo/RPC

Not wars, but conflicts

Prado explains that Ukraine’s borders have always been a point of tension, which came to a head last week with the invasion of the country by Russian troops.

In the pre-immigration period to Brazil, according to Prado, Ukraine did not experience a war scenario, but recorded many conflicts with border countries.

“No one migrates when things are going well. Russia abolished serfdom in 1861. If we go back to the time of immigration, 30 years ago, there were people who owned people. There were also servants. So, in Eastern Europe there was a context of great need […] At that time there was no war, there were conflicts. Ukraine has always had its borders under siege. Now for Poland, then for Russia, then for the Austro-Hungarians, then again for Russia.

While Professor Prado was writing his doctoral dissertation, he moved to Prudentópolis, where he lived for five years, following the daily routine of his descendants, who are now responsible for the preservation of culture in the central region of Paraná.

The traditional Ukrainian painting, known as Petrikovka, is also present in the decorative elements of many houses in the municipality — Photo: Arquivo/Caminhos do Campo/RPC

Prado says that great efforts are being made to ensure that the customs are passed down from generation to generation. One of the factors contributing to this tradition is the strong connection of descendants with Ukraine – Prudentopolis is even a sister city of Ternopil in the west of the European country.

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Cuisine and culture are also weapons in this daily struggle to preserve culture, in addition to the Ukrainian language, which is recognized by municipal law as a second language in the municipality. It is estimated that 70% of the population speaks Ukrainian.

Sweet pancakes with cheese and fruit filling are one of the typical dishes enjoyed in the city — Photo: Arquivo/Caminhos do Campo/RPC

“They maintain their cultural practices very well through rites, language and cooking. In Prudentopolis, you don’t have to go to a certain place to taste the typical cuisine. No. Wherever you go, there will be a certain cuisine. That is, they not only represent, but also live this identity. This is the determining factor for them today to show themselves as truly those who represent Ukraine outside of Europe.”

In addition to preserving the culture of the Eastern European country, prudent politicians are watching the conflict from afar, which became the subject of study in the schools of the city and this will be another chapter in the history of the Ukrainian descendants of Parana.

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