CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
Right where the Amazon, Paraná and São Francisco rivers converge, Brazil dared to create a city that respected space, put an end to anarchy and became a model of metropolis. Brasilia is the city that was built in the 20th Century to be the capital of Brazil and which is now a world heritage site. In Venezuela, President Rómulo Betancourt suffered an assassination attempt in Los Próceres boulevard
Brazilian President Juscelino Kubitschek proudly poses outside one of the buildings of the newly-built city of Brasilia Photo: AP
It was an age-old dream. It is said that this idea was first discussed in 1596: to move the capital inland, far from the coastline.
It was only in the 21st Century when this dream began to show signs of coming true, an event that would nearly save the country and empower the central zone of a much-too-extensive nation, a change that would positively affect Brazilians.
José Bonifacio, advisor to Pedro I during the second decade of the 19th century, is held to be one of the first individuals to conjure up this image of a capital city and even naming it Brasilia. However, historian Francisco Adolfo de Varnhagen was the one who imaginarily located it right where the Amazon, Paraná and São Francisco rivers converged: a place very near to what the future had in store for this city, which is now a world heritage site.
In 1945, the project came to life once more as a new Constitution was drafted. But only in 1956 President Juscelino Kubitschek announced that finally Brasilia would become a reality as the grand work of his government.
His old friend Oscar Niemeyer had already drawn up plans and sketches of some of the main buildings of the future city and was called upon by the president to head the architecture department of Novacap, company in charge of building the city.
The urbanism project presented by Lúcio Costa gained favorable opinions in 1957: "It was born as a primary gesture from someone who indicates a place or takes possession of it: two axes crossing at a straight angle, that is, the actual sign of the cross."
In plains located nearly 1,000 kilometers from Rio de Janeiro, the capital city at the time, a new city was developed in record time based on fundamental principles of the Athens Charter developed by master architect Le Corbusier. However, in time Niemeyer tried to distance himself from comparisons and established his own personal imprint: "The only influence he had on me was the day he told me: 'Architecture is invention.' And I took that as a standard in my work."
On April 21, 1960 Brasilia was inaugurated and Rio de Janeiro would no longer be the capital city. Brasilia, however, would not simply be the new center for political power. It would also become a scenario for a utopia aimed at laying the foundation for an egalitarian society based on the concept of space.
High expectations lay on Venezuela's enactment of the agrarian reform and the creation of Corporación Venezolana de Guayana to boost the development of the southern region of the nation.
But political violence would stir society: On June 24, President Rómulo Betancourt suffered an assassination attempt in Los Próceres boulevard and held Dominican dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo accountable, a fact that even OAS would corroborate in the following months.
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