The Croatian Heritage Foundation was the venue for the presentation of Milan Puh’s bilingual tome Croatians in Brazil After 1945: The Third Phase of Immigration. The book was promoted at the CHF by the author and the book’s reviewers Darjan Godić and Mario Jareb.
The Croatian Heritage Foundation was the venue on 29 January for the presentation of the bilingual tome Hrvatska u Brazilu nakon 1941.: treća faza useljavanja (“Croatians in Brazil After 1945: The Third Phase of Immigration”), published in São Paulo last year by author Milan Puh. The book was promoted by the author and the book’s reviewers Darjan Godić PhD and Mario Jareb PhD. The book promotion was led by Vesna Kukavica, the head of our publishing department. On hand to provide musical intermezzos, in her particular melange of the subdialect spoken in the Croatian northern coastal town of Labin and Portuguese, was Elis Lovrić (https://www.facebook.com/elislovric). CHF deputy director Ivan Tepeš welcomed everyone to the event and offered some fascinating data and his appreciation of the book. Dario Magdić, the deputy to state secretary Zvonko Milas of the State Office for Croats Abroad, was on hand to welcome everyone as the representative of Prime Minister Andrej Plenković.
The book promoted at the event was the fourth and final in a series of books that are part of a research project looking into the history of Croatians and Croatian immigration in Brazil. Written in Portuguese and Croatian, the whole body of work covers 740 pages. In seven thematical sections it offers a number of examples of the contributions made by Croatians to their new homeland, the immigrant community, and the ancestral homeland. Funding for Puh’s book was provided through the State Office for Croats Abroad and the Croatia Sacra Paulistana Croatian culture centre in São Paulo.
The results of the project, as detailed in the book, were presented at the event by researcher Puh and eminent fellow researchers from the Croatian Institute of History. Milan Puh, a native of the northern coastal city of Pula, teachers Portuguese, Croatian and history at the Croatia Sacra Paulistana culture centre and the Society of the Friends of Dalmatia in São Paulo, home to the bulk of the community of people of Croatian ancestry living in Brazil. He is a research associate with the centre for Slavic studies of the Paran Brazilian state university working on a research project looking into the cartography of Slavic studies in Brazil in terms of research work and its internationalisation. Since 2015 he has led and successfully wrapped up a research project on the history of Croatians and Croatian immigration into Brazil. He also won approval to teach a Croatian language course at the university in São Paulo which he is leading from the start of this year. This university course is the first of its kind in Brazil.
The fruit of his work as a compiler and his research of lexicographic material on Croatians that moved to Brazil is a minor lexicon included in Croatians in Brazil After 1945: The Third Phase of Immigration. The lexicon lists artists, business people, researchers, society figures and many activists. For the first time it presents Croatian immigrants who made their mark working to the benefit of the broader community, and those who made their contribution in the domains of culture, the economy, industry and society life in general in their new homeland. It is worth noting that this book is based on Nikica Talan’s 1998 book Hrvatska–Brazil, kulturno-povijesne veze (“Croatia-Brazil: Cultural and Historical Links”), some of the information provided in Vinko Nikolić’s 1967 book Pred vratima domovine: susret s hrvatskom emigracijom (“At the Gates of the Homeland: A Meeting with the Croatian Diaspora”), and Ivan Hetrich’s 1996 book U potrazi za Hrvatima kroz Južnu Ameriku (“Through South America in Search of Croatians”). We also find some of the news in the Conexão Brasil-Hrvatska newsletter published in 1999 by the Society of the Friends of Dalmatia in São Paulo. An article by Ivan Marinović Bršćan tells of husband and wife Josip and Blaženka Kanyo. Blaženka created the “first garden in Brasilia” and later the Brazil-Croatian Friendship Bridge association that worked to open a Croatian embassy in 1997, of which the CHF has written in the past. A number of Croatians besides the Kanyo’s took part in building Brasilia: Miljenko Đakula took part in the installation of heating and cooling systems in the hospitals, Marko Becker was responsible for the power grid project, and Zdravko Belamarić worked on the organisation and distribution of food for workers.
We find the greatest number of prominent figures in this community, of course, in São Paulo. Among these are Željko Loparić, who played a large role in the critical moments when Croatia was winning its independence in 1990. He was born in the northwestern Croatian town of Jastrebarsko in 1939 and earned a linguistics degree from the University of Zagreb, in philosophy at the Leuven university in France, and mathematics at the University of Paris and the Federal University of Paraiba. He began his career as a professor at the University of São Paulo in 1969 before moving on to work with the newly founded Campinas University in 1976. Since 1993 he has worked at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and later at the Winnicott Institute. He was also politically active at these institutions in the 1990s. He opened an office of the Republic of Croatia in São Paulo which later became our consulate, which he represented. He has authored many articles in leading Brazilian newspapers Estado de São Paulo and Folha de São Paulo.
Many Croatian immigrants contributed to creating the Croatia Sacra Paulistana centre, including Martin Kraml, Zvonimir Matijaščić, Ivan Šuto, Ivan Gracek, Dinko Mravak, Antun Bonifačić, Julije Dojčman, Stefan Cincibuch, the Vedrenjak brothers, Ana Čapo, Aleksandar Golubić and Branko Mervar. The descendants of our immigrants continued the work on preserving the Croatian identity in Brazil. Šime Deur worked actively in the fold of the association from the early 1960s and served as its president in the new millennium. He was succeeded in this work by his son Tomislav, a professor of Portuguese language and Brazilian literature and a translator, and the current president of the Croatia Sacra Paulistana centre. Also active in the community is Dubravka Šuto, a representative of the Croatian-Brazilian Congress and of our Brazilian diaspora in the frame of the Croatian Government’s advisory body on Croats abroad. Also particularly noteworthy is Elza Gracek, who served as president of Croatia Sacra Paulistana in the 1990s, as did Katarina Vidmar Kemeter, a Croatian language teacher at both centres and the founder of newsletters Hrvatska: Novi život (“Croatia: New Life”) and Veza Brazil–Hrvatska (“Connections Brazil–Croatia”).
Prominent in the business community is Branko Luketić, who moved to Brazil in 1951 and contributed to the development of water-resistant paint. Stjepan Pilat, a Croatian with roots in the eastern Srijem region, launched a company producing mixers and other construction equipment. Filip Pavičić arrived in his new homeland in the late 1950s as a political émigré, having cut short his studies in engineering. He founded a company in 1965 later inherited by his son Eugênio. The Kastropil and Martinović families joined forces to first set up a stand selling pasta in Belem, home to a large ethnic Croatian community and later a production facility producing paper bags. Sons Nelson and Claudio Kastropil Bele took over the reins of the family business and worked with grandchildren Ricardo, Ronaldo and Claudio Jr to create a large packing material distribution centre in São Paulo. The Paravić, Petrić and Pexider-Srića families worked jointly and separately in lumber processing and wood materials, working in the wood industry in the Mrkopalj area in Croatia. Zagreb native Ivana Biserka Prelog moved to Brazil with her family in the 1950s and worked for many years on creating new banks in the frame of investment funds. In the 1970s she was one of the first women to land a job on the Brazilian stock exchange.
Noteworthy among the medical professionals is Alexandar Vranjac, a professor at the Faculty of Medical Sciences of Santa Casa who worked in the São Paulo federal government in a number of agencies, including the epidemiological control centre in São Paulo. He is the son of Ivan Vranjac, a culture professional and translator. Oral surgeon Dr Krunislave Antonio Nobilo was honoured with the honorary citizenship of the city of Piracicabe in 2008. He founded the city’s first dental school and is the founder and head of the laboratory of the school’s dental technology department (1957).
Prominent among the religious leaders was the priest Damjan Rodin, one of the first Croatian priests to move to Brazil after the Second World War, where he organised the religious and community life of the ethnic Croatian community in São Paulo. In Rio de Janeiro he continued his important work for Croatians and Brazilians. He was born in the Šibenik hinterland and moved to Brazil in 1947, working as parish priest in São Paulo for a brief period where he edited a bilingual monthly, the Hrvatski marijanski glasnik (“Croatian Marian Herald”). The monthly saw only six issues published in 1947 and 1948. Thanks to his many contacts and good relationships he secured funding from various Catholic (and other) organisations in Europe and North America, and helped raised a favela in Rio de Janeiro now known as Vila Croácia, part of the Senador Camará district. Over time this favela gained a truly Croatian feel, with elements of heritage that could not be achieved in São Paulo. He founded the Brazil-Hrvatska school in 1959, active to this day, and the Cardinal Stepinac home for children on Rua Dalmacia street. In 1966 he opened a Croatian hospital in the Sepetiba district, part of the broader Rio de Janeiro area. In 1968 he helped found a football club for children and youth. At the Nossa senhora de Lapa parish he founded a centre that works to combat addiction. Rodin continued to write as a Brazilian correspondent for Revista Croata, publishing a number of short articles in Croatian. In 1960 he supported, as the president of the Croatian colony of Brazil, an initiative from Brazilian senator and vice president Medeiros Neto to create a Croatian language and literature course at the national university in Rio de Janeiro, which did not, unfortunately, bear fruit. He published a book in Rio de Janeiro in the late sixties in Portuguese called Hrvatska, njezina povijest u povijesti zapadne civilizacije (“Croatia: It’s History in the History of Western Civilisation”). Priest Rodin died in 1968 and Vila Croacia lost its link to the ancestral homeland. This led the Raymundo family to continue the work of the football club and create links with the homeland spoken of so often in this favela.
Jesuit priest Dinko Mravak was much spoken of in the reports and statements of cultural activists in the community, including Ivan Šuto and Zvonimir Matijaščić. The priest Mravak succeeded in organising the community in spite of the brief period he spent in São Paulo working at the São Luís school. He supported the founding of the Croatia Sacra community, including organising events dedicated to the homeland at the school. After his transfer he began to work at the pontifical Catholic university and went on to serve as its deputy rector. He held the post in the 1960s and 1970s before entering his retirement. He died in 1988.
Priests were not the only people active in matters of religion and campaigns to benefit the community. Marijan Čubaković was a member of a Catholic action group and one of the most active members of the Nossa Senhora da Paz–Međugorje association. He is known for the articles he published in the Estado de São Paulo, including A Short Vision of Croatia, Croatia: Land of Saints and Martyrs, and Archbishop Stepinac and His Croatian Homeland. He also worked with the Croacia Vida Nova newsletter produced by the Croatia Sacra Paulistana association. In the 1990s he worked with Bogoljub Andrijašević to lead the Glas Hrvatske (“Voice of Croatia”) Croatian language radio programme, which broadcast shows every Sunday in Croatian and Portuguese on the local radio station Radio Nove de Julho.
In the domain of literature and journalism, in spite of his brief time in Brazil, Antun Bonifačić helped create, as reported by Matijaščić (1996), the first newsletter of the Croatia Sacra Paulistana association. He later relocated to Canada. Also noteworthy was Franjo Dujmović, a native of Oriovac born in 1904. He moved here with his family after the Second World War and created an important library of Croatian-Brazilian authors that laid the groundwork for much of the subsequent study of Croatian immigration and presence in the country. Before World War II and his departure from the homeland he published a number of articles in newspapers, while his most notable work is the book Hrvatska na putu k oslobođenju: uspomene i prosudbe (“Croatia on the Road to Liberation: Memories and Assessments”), published in 1976 while in exile. His descendants continued his work. His daughter Marija’s son Vladimir Sesar took part in the Croatian World Games held in Zadar in 2010. In the area of publishing Cosmo Juvela (born Žuvela, with roots on the island of Korčula) played an important role as the owner of the Meka publishing company. Also prominent is the geographer Nelson Bačić Olić, the son of a native of Korčula. In 1993 he founded the journal Mundo: geografia e política internacional (“The World: Geography and International Politics”) in which he wrote of the then little-known situation in Croatia. Today it is a leading monthly.
Important in the domains of education and publishing is Paulo Pedro Popović. His parents moved to Brazil from the northern Croatian region of Slavonia. Back in the 1970s he edited books on Plato and Aristotle as part of the “Thinkers” series. He served as the secretary general of the education ministry from 1995 to 2003 during which time he developed a distance learning programme that opened the first ever opportunities for education to people in remote parts of Brazil. He founded the newspaper Sur: revista internacional de direitos humanos (“South: International Journal of Human rights”).
Among the writers we can begin with Ivan Mikloš, a frequent correspondent with the CHF’s own Matica magazine. He also took part in founding the library of the current Society of the Friends of Dalmatia and the newspapers of the 1980s. He penned an autobiography, Mladić u visokom društvu (“A Young Man in High Society”), and the travelogue Veličine moje zemlje (“The Greatness of My Country”). In these two books we see the impressions of an “economic” migrant who moved to Brazil with his family in the 1920s as members of the Hungarian ethnic minority in Croatia. Đuro Poljak, another writer, settled in the well-known resort city of Balneário Camboriú in the state of Santa Catarina. Poljak was an architect born in the northern Croatian Hrvatsko Zagorje region. He settled in São Paulo in 1963. He worked as a painter and published some of his work in the book Putevi Vrline (“The Paths of Virtue”).
The younger generation is represented by Marija Cristina Damianovich, a prolific writer with a bevy of published books, both research-oriented and fiction. A university professor, she is the head of an international project on literature in the political and critical development of new readers and writers. Gregório Bačić, a movie and television director, authored the soap opera Mandacara. He directed the 1977 documentary film Retrato de Classe (“Class Portrait”), one of the masterpieces of Brazilian documentary film, and Memórias do Brasil em 78 rpm (“Memories of Brazil at 78 RPM”). He is also known as the organiser of film festivals, including Mostra Paulista de Cinema Nordestino (“São Paulo Northeastern Cinema Review”) and Mostra Filme e Trabalho (“The Film and Labour Review”). He also wrote the screenplay for a documentary film on Croatian immigrants from the Dalmatia region in the Belenzinho neighbourhood. Gregório is also a writer, and penned the books Peão envenenado e outras provocações (“The Poisoned Pawn and other Provocations”), and Olhares Plausiveis (“Plausible Looks”).
Katija Gavranić Camargo is a nutritionist and producer in the domain of culture. Her contribution to the Croatian community was made through the Dalmatian Memories project at the Society of the Friends of Dalmatia in São Paulo. She also works on tours through the “Dalmatian” districts of Belem and Mooca and is the author of the book Hrvatska: kuhinja i dalmatinska prisjećanja (“Croatia: The Cuisine and Dalmatian Reminiscences”).
Visual artists also certainly contribute to spreading visual culture and promoting Croatia. There are numerous painters among Brazilians of Croatian extraction, including Carlos Kiša, Pedro Šeman, Jorge Franulić, Silvio Pletikos and Vitomir Salić (Salier).
Jorge Andres Franulić was born to a family of Croatian immigrants in Chile and moved to Brazil as an adventure seeker. There he worked for a number of magazines before opening a gallery near El Dourado, one of the oldest markets in São Paulo. He earned famed creating a 900 square metre mural at the entrance to the Armenian club. He saw his first showings in the ancestral homeland in the late 1980s, exhibiting seventeen works in Zagreb and Bjelovar in 1988/89, later donating them to the Croatian Heritage Foundation. Carlos Kiša, the son of a Croatian who settled in Uruguay, moved to Brazil in 1960 and launched a successful career recounted by Ivan Hetrich in 1996. Silvio Pletikos was a major figure in southern Brazil, one of the forerunners of modern art in the state of Santa Catarina. He was born in Pula in the 1920s—after earning a degree to teach art and several years working as a teacher in the homeland, he moved to Brazil. He took part in the creation and work of the Santa Catarina museum of modern art. Pedro Šeman is yet another Brazilian born descendant of people from the island of Korćula. His paintings are displayed at the Society of the Friends of Dalmatia and have brought a part of our Croatian and Slavic folklore and ethnic art to Brazil.
In the domain of music, the community owes much to Dragutin Kalman. Born in the Croatian town of Belišće, he received an education as a flautist, clarinet player and tamburitza player and was active in the homeland in the 1930s and 1940s. He relocated to the Brazilian town of Guarulhos in 1957 and moved to Jundiaí in the state of São Paulo in 1960, where he worked as a clothing salesman while pursuing his music interests as the leader of bands. He made a significant contribution as a maestro and conductor of the music ensemble of the Society of the Friends of Dalmatia in the 1980s. He was awarded an honorary citizenship of Jundiaí, where he died. Following in his footsteps is the young Renan Marques Regadas, the grandson of Lovro Poletto, who moved there from the Croatian town of Pakrac in the 1920s. As a conductor and composer Renan works as a teacher in Montessori schools and leads the Frana band, founded by Kalman. There are a number of bands with members that are descendants of Croatian immigrants to Brazil, including Paulo Mikloš, the grandson of Ivan Mikloš, who is a member of the cult punk band Titãs. Andrija Bušić, the son of Croatian immigrants, had a career in jazz, which his sons Ivan (named after their grandfather) and Andrija Jr are also pursuing, both playing in bands. They now are both members of the hard rock band Dr Sin.
Along with the history and demographic indicators, the fourth book in this series also features a mini encyclopaedia of sorts on prominent Croatians who in various ways contributed to their new Brazilian homeland in fields as diverse as the arts, architecture, music, literature, the natural sciences and the economic sector of the most populous country in South America. The specialist team assembled by Milan Puh studied the history and current state of the community of Croatian ancestry in Brazil over a 150-year period. the content of the book includes archival material and illustrations. This comprehensive and bilingual four-book series looks into the phenomenon of Croatian migration to South America, focusing on the social, economic and political challenges faced in the past and present by the community of Croatian immigrants and their descendants, now numbering somewhere between sixty and eighty thousand people.
It is the hope of the editor that the lexicon of the immigrants and their descendants that made a mark in the history of the ethnic Croatian presence in Brazil will serve as the groundwork for a future large-scale encyclopaedic publication that would include these and many other families and individuals. This then is an initial and uncomplete study that, over time and in future editions, will offer greater quality and scope. The aim and the intention was to highlight the Croatian presence in a number of domains and fields significant to both Croatia and Brazil, which has been underreported in the past and has the potential, in every aspect, permanently and mutually, to bring these two countries closer together.
By: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek
Photography: Snježana Radoš