Holambra. The difficult starting years of a piece of Netherlands in Brazil
In 1948, a big farm (fazenda), about 87 miles (140 kilometers) north of the city of São Paulo, was bought in order to settle Dutch immigrants. This fazenda was nearly empty, only some fragile shacks were present. All the land had to be cultivated. This Fazenda Ribeirão is nowadays a thriving community with obvious Dutch elements. Before it became a flourishing settlement Dutch pioneers had to struggle to build a daily existence. Many pioneers left for destinations elsewhere in Brazil or returned to the Netherlands.
Holambra was initiated by Geert Heijmeijer, former secretary of the Dutch Catholic Farmers’ Association, who was looking for a place in Brazil for Dutch farmers who saw no future for themselves in their homeland. The settlement had to be a model colony, formed by excellent people, who had to form a new community based on Christian principles. The idyll of Heijmeijer was soon disturbed by financial difficulties and internal tensions. Thanks to a new loan from the Netherlands and the heavy hand of Charles Hogenboom, who had gained tropical experience in the Dutch East Indies, a reorganization was implemented. Meanwhile many farmers revolted against his ‘dictatorship’ and left Holambra.
This book tells why Dutch farmers left for Brazil and what they have experienced during the starting years. Although Holambra was set up as a private initiative, the Dutch government soon became involved in this Dutch community in Brazil. This involvement directly touched the daily lives of its residents. Apart from the difficult start-up of the colony, together with the many internal conflicts, the book also focuses on settlements elsewhere in Brazil that have emerged from these difficulties. The book ends with the establishment of Holambra II in 1961, when Holambra finally left the pioneering phase behind.
The book of Mari Smits, Holambra. The difficult starting years of the piece of Netherlands in Brazil shall be published in 2016.