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Amazon Rain Forest Main Character In Soap Opera
New Brazilian TV series dramatizes history of rubber industry
Antonio Carlos Rix (carlosrix)     Print Article 
Published 2006-12-27 16:58 (KST)   
The soap opera is one of the main products of Brazilian television and is also a significant cultural export. Brazilian soaps are shown in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

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Now, the "Central Globo de Porducoes" (Globo Productions Center) is preparing a great short story -- "Amazonia -- de Galvez a Chico Mendes" (Amazon -- from Galvez to Chico Mendes), written by Glory Perez.

The director of "Amazonia," Marcos Schechtman, already has experience with this sort of production. In 2003, he directed "A casa das sete mulheres" (the House of the Seven Women), which was a great success. The production team launched the new production in Sao Paulo on Dec. 16 amidst much emotion and joy.

"Amazonia" includes two strong characters that guarantee the depth and seriousness of the plot: Galvez and Chico Mendes.

Dom Galvez, who first proclaimed the independent State of the Acre, was a diplomat in Buenos Aires when he got involved with the wife of a local authority figure and ended up being obliged to leave Argentina. He abandoned his diplomatic career and went to Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon, the El Dorado of the end of the century before the last, a point of convergence for all the adventurers of the world, who went there after the dream of easy riches promised by the rubber boom.

The famous Amazon Theater set inside a map of Brazil.
©2006 Antonio Carlos Rix

Francisco Alves Mendes Filho, better known as Chico Mendes was born in the seringal (rubber tree plantation) in Porto Rico, in Xapuri. Chico became a "seringueiro" (rubber tapper) when he was nine years old. Until the age of 14, the life of Chico was like that of any other rubber tapper boy, with his childhood shortened by heavy work.

Euclides Fernando Tavora was Chico's first teacher. With his books, periodicals, and radio shows -- rare items in the environment of the rain forest -- Tavora presented the world to that young rubber tapper. The boy grew and became one of the most expressive leaders of the ecological fight. In 1987, the U.N. granted a global prize to Chico for his work with the "Union of the Peoples of the Forest" -- an alliance between native peoples and rubber tappers in defense of the rain forest and the implementation of reserves. Chico Mendes remains the only Brazilian, until today, to receive this honor.

After one decade of threats, Chico was killed on Dec. 22, 1988. In an interview in Rio De Janeiro a month earlier he predicted, "They are going to kill me." But his death, while certainly cruel and unjust, was not in vain: the agricultural workers of Xapuri in March 2002 were granted the green stamp for Forest Handling, because they harvest wood according to authorized standards. Today, they commercialize natural foods, medicines, and raw materials for the cosmetic industry.

The soap opera plot will begin at the end of 1899, when Dom Galvez arrived in the region, when the state of Acre was the only place in the world to produce latex, the raw material of rubber, right at the time of the second Industrial Revolution and the sprouting of the automobile industry, and will continue up till the present time, evoking the role of Chico Mendes as hero and defender of the peoples of the forest.

The famous Amazon Theater in Manaus.
©2006 Antonio Carlos Rix

Rede Globo has prepared scenarios in Manaus and at the cinematographic city in Rio. The sets in Manaus will all become tourist destinations. The short soap opera will drive continental attention from inside and outside the country. Glory Perez, the writer will surely take the opportunity to bring, as in other of her works, fruitful discussion about important matters for the peoples and the environment of this fantastic region.

The rivers will also be film sets.
©2006 Antonio Carlos Rix
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Antonio Carlos Rix

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