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date: 23 April 2017

Agricultural Transformations in Sugarcane and Labor in Brazil

Summary and Keywords

The Portuguese took sugarcane from their Atlantic island holdings to Brazil in the first decades of the 16th century, using their model of extensive agriculture and coerced labor to turn their new colony into the world’s largest producer of sugar. From the middle of the 17th century through the 20th century, Brazil faced increasing competition from Caribbean producers. With access to abundant land and forest resources, Brazilian producers generally pursued an extensive production model that made sugarcane’s footprint a large one. Compared to competitors elsewhere, Brazilian farmers were often late in adopting innovations (such as manuring in the 18th century, steam power in the 19th, and synthetic fertilizers in the 20th). With coffee’s growth in the center-south of the country during the middle of the 19th century, sugarcane farming shifted gradually away from enslaved African labor. Labor and production methods shifted at the end of the century with slavery’s abolition and the rise of large new mills, called usinas. The model of steam-powered production, both for railroads carrying cane and for mills grinding it, and a work force largely resident on plantations persisted into the mid-20th century. Rural worker unions were legalized in the 1960s, at the same time that sugar production increased as a result of the Cuban Revolution. A large-scale sugarcane ethanol program in the 1970s also brought upheaval, and growth, to the industry.

Keywords: Sugar, agriculture, sugar trade, slavery, tenancy, rural labor, agricultural modernization, ethanol, Pernambuco, Bahia, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro

From Cane’s Arrival to a Flourishing Trade, 1500–1600

For hundreds of years, Portuguese and then Brazilian colonizers, farmers, politicians, and historians have suggested that their continent-sized country has a special aptitude for agriculture. From colony to republic, sugarcane long held pride of place when boosters made the case for their tropical home’s characteristic productivity. In Dialogues on the Greatness of Brazil, a 1618 book structured as a six day long dialogue between Brandônio, a Brazil enthusiast, and his skeptical friend Alviano, the latter acknowledges that the sugar-growing captaincy of Pernambuco had “acquired [a reputation] in the world, for its greatness, richness, and abundance in everything.”1 At the time, Brazil enjoyed unrivaled dominance of the world sugar trade. Much of the colony’s sugar flowed through Portuguese ports and on to the Low Countries, especially Amsterdam.2 Brazilian producers grew very rich through the trade. Sugarcane agriculture had built fitfully up to that point, and from the mid-17th century Brazil would face stiff competition in world production, first from Caribbean producers and later from European beet growers.

The Portuguese produced sugar on Atlantic islands for several generations before landing in Brazil, building their first offshore mill on Madeira in 1433. They also established large plantations on São Tomé, Príncipe, and the Azores. Brazil’s vast forests and abundant water sealed its superiority to the small, dry Atlantic islands for sugar cultivation.3 Though at first the Portuguese focused on extracting Brazilwood for red dye, over the course of the 16th century sugar grew rapidly in economic importance. Starting in 1534, the Portuguese crown granted loyal imperial servants control over territories, giving them the power to administer and tax settlers. These donatary captaincies had latitudinal boundaries that ran westward into the continent. The northeastern captaincy of Pernambuco was one of the few to establish good relations with indigenous populations and forge trade links back to Portugal, becoming an early heart of the sugarcane industry. The land around Bahia’s Bay of All Saints emerged as the other key zone of production.

The Portuguese transplanted the cane that they had cultivated on the Atlantic islands to Brazil, and when new varieties began to arrive in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, this original variety came to be known as “creole cane.” Planters in Brazil borrowed designs for mills (called engenhos in Portuguese) from the Atlantic islands, along with other aspects of sugar production including, eventually, the exploitation of chattel slaves for labor. The early lords of the engenhos hired workers or slaves from mills in Madeira or the Canary Islands to build and manage their establishments.4 Within three decades of the Portuguese arrival in 1500, planters in Pernambuco had already begun exporting sugar to the mother country. Sugar from the captaincy made its first appearance in the customhouse of Lisbon in 1526, though news of the first mill did not reach the metropole until 1542.5

Where production began, in the Northeast, sugarcane’s cultivation cycle began in May, with the planting of new cane. That process continued until September, alongside weeding of seedlings and the growing cane. The harvest began in October and continued roughly through April, depending on the fruitfulness of the growing season. Cane takes at least fourteen months to mature and sometimes as long as eighteen. Once cut, it regrows spontaneously from its roots, though with decreasing vigor as the years pass (these regrowths are called “ratoons” or, in Brazil, socas or folhas). Though cane can grow from seeds, planters only mastered this technique at the end of the 19th century. It remains standard practice to replant with pieces of cut cane called seed cane. Until the 18th century, workers placed cane pieces in long, parallel trenches. Later, cane was planted in holes surrounded by berms, to prevent erosion. The use of plows was rare in Brazil until the late 19th century and after, meaning enslaved or free workers turned fields with hoes.

For millennia, people indigenous to Brazil’s coast used swidden agriculture. In the first decades of sugarcane cultivation the Portuguese probably mimicked those cultivation patterns. Indigenous people burned forest at its edges and along watercourses, while the Portuguese cleared larger fields. Sugarcane cultivation followed stream courses between hills and through forests, taking advantage of rich lowland soil. The streams and rivers also served as highways for transporting sugar to the coast, and they powered the mills to grind the cane and extract syrup. Pernambuco and Bahia consolidated their positions as core producing areas in the late 16th century, when they accounted for over 85 percent of production. They continued to produce the lion’s share of Brazil’s sugar throughout the colonial period.6

Initially, the Portuguese bartered with Indians for labor, but as labor demands increased with sugar’s spread, they began enslaving Indians. They also brought Africans who had experience in São Tomé or Madeira, taking advantage of their skills in the boiling houses. From the 1570s, disease had decimated the indigenous populations, and the increasing efficiency of the African slave trade led to a wholesale shift toward African slaves. This process was essentially complete by the first decades of the 17th century, as was the establishment of a trading system that linked Brazil to Portugal and the Low Countries through networks of merchants.7

Expansion and Stagnation, 1600–1850

By the beginning of the 17th century, the profits from Brazil’s sugar production exceeded the Portuguese empire’s India trade. Most of the colony’s thirty thousand slaves worked on sugar engenhos, and they managed to export ten thousand tons of sugar per year.8 By the end the century, the requirements for a prosperous engenho were well known: abundant water, accessible forest reserves, and good soil. Mill owners were also preoccupied with slave management, arranging for food supplies or requiring that slaves grow their own, providing clothing and tools, and attending to discipline. Historians have found that engenhos’ success depended on a stable ownership structure, ready supplies of slaves or other labor, and access to credit.9

In the midst of the industry’s continued expansion, during the second quarter of the century, the Dutch took over the producing region of Pernambuco, holding the territory from 1630 until 1654. Over the course of their stay, the Dutch imported a remarkable 26,000 slaves.10 Brazil’s sugar production grew to 28,500 tons in 1650, a level the colony maintained for about thirty years. Production then declined in the late 17th century, stagnating at about 20,000 tons a year until the middle of the 18th century.11 This trend resulted from a drop in sugar prices that had begun in 1620, linked to Europe’s commercial crisis and competition in the market.12 The primary competition came, of course, from the Caribbean.

Some have assumed a causal link between the Dutch period in Brazil and the explosion of Caribbean sugar production. But their supposed acquisition and development of sugar technology does not appear to have had a clear connection to the sugar revolution.13 The Caribbean surge was decisive, in any event, and by the late 17th century Europe’s Caribbean colonies had surpassed Brazil’s sugar production. Still, in the beginning of the 18th century, nearly one thousand engenhos dotted the Brazilian littoral, overwhelmingly in the Northeast.14 Colonists focused so single-mindedly on sugar that the dense cane regions sometimes experienced food shortages (a particularly acute famine struck Pernambuco in 1648).15 Hunger also loomed over the English and French sugar plantations in the Caribbean, but planters there customarily granted provision grounds to slaves for producing staple foods. They called the practice the “Brazil system,” though they seem to have been more likely than Brazilian planters to allow slaves to market surplus produce.16

For the entire period of sugarcane cultivation leading up to the 19th century, the crop spurred the clearance of nearly 10,000 square kilometers of land.17 Until sugar producers made more efficient use of dried cane husks (bagasse, or bagaço in Portuguese) as a fuel, the most acute impact of their industry took the form of deforestation. Boiling houses at the engenhos consumed wood every hour of the day during the harvest season. Colonial-era producers’ fuel costs represented as much as a fifth of their total operating expenditures.18 The Portuguese Crown saw in the Atlantic Forest, which covered most of the sugar-producing region, valuable wood for its navy. But laws barring landowners from cutting valuable trees caused resentment and, ironically, encouraged more deforestation as producers sought to preempt intrusions on their territories.19 Even after the introduction of more efficient furnaces and the lighter use of wood, the sugar industry continued to have significant environmental impacts through deforestation, erosion and runoff, and the decreased biodiversity associated with the spread of monoculture.20

Sugarcane’s sprawling footprint in its coastal regions helps explain the slow pace of change in Brazilian sugarcane agriculture. In contrast to the Caribbean, Brazilian production expanded extensively rather than intensively, taking advantage of the colony’s great size and wealth of forests. Caribbean producers faced limited space and forest resources, compelling them to adopt intensive methods earlier. Vertical, three-roller mills spread only at the beginning of the 1600s in Brazil, and while Caribbean planters manured their fields by the late 17th century, Brazilian producers did not. Until well into the 19th century, most Brazilian planters still had not adopted the vacuum pan in their mills, a technology that enabled a much more efficient extraction of sugar from syrup. One of the greatest 19th century technological improvements for the sugar industry was obviously railroads, which as they grew, functioned alongside ox carts, mules, or donkeys, displacing barge transport along watercourses.

From the beginnings of colonization until very late in the 20th century (and in many areas to the present), workers cut cane manually, a notoriously difficult task. Workers had to sharpen their foices (sickles) three or four times a day in the harvest season, as the tough and resistant cane would dull them quickly. They bent to slash the cane off as close to the ground as possible, then trimmed the leaves with several rapid passes of the blade before cutting the cane in half and proceeding to the next one. Eventually, workers stopped cutting and spent the end of the day tying the top leaves around bundles of ten to twenty canes. In a late 17th century manual for prospective engenho owners, a Jesuit named André João Antonil prescribed specific methods for managing slaves, including recommending sizes for particular tasks. The centrality of firewood to an engenho’s operation, for instance, is driven home by Antonil’s startling suggestion that each slave cut and deliver a cartload of wood every day.21

The average engenho had between sixty and one hundred slaves, and the larger ones more than two hundred. The Portuguese carried four- to five thousand slaves a year to Brazil over the course of the 17th and early 18th centuries, the vast majority of whom ended up on the sugar plantations. Demand for slaves among sugar planters continued to rise even after other extractive industries in Brazil began to rival sugar’s position—first gold and diamond mining in Minas Gerais, and later coffee in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Impressively, even as colonial administrators turned their attention to the gold and diamond mines of Minas Gerais in the 18th century, export proceeds from sugar consistently exceeded those of competing products.22 During the middle of the 18th century, Pernambuco alone imported more than 1,500 slaves each year, a large majority brought from Central West Africa, and specifically the ports of Luanda and Benguela. From 1550 until 1800, Brazil as a whole brought in as many as 2.5 million slaves. The next five decades would see the arrival of nearly 1.5 million more.23

Slaves faced notoriously difficult conditions in the sugar regions, especially during the harvest period when the grueling work of cutting proceeded alongside the non-stop boiling and purging. The latter often inspired comparisons with hell because of the continuously burning furnaces heating the cauldrons of cane juice.24 Slave owners were preoccupied by the skills a slave could offer, especially for manning the boiling house, and by their health and vigor. Prices for slaves fluctuated in direct response to development in other areas of Brazil. They rose steeply in sugar areas, for instance, during the heyday of gold mining. These fluctuations impinged directly on the relative profitability of engenhos over time.25

The shift southward of Brazil’s economic center of gravity was consolidated by coffee’s rise in the 19th century. Patterns of slave importations followed these commodity shifts, as Rio de Janeiro became the biggest receiving port to serve the mining and then coffee growing areas. Pernambuco and Bahia continued to import large numbers of slaves for the sugarcane regions (nearly ten thousand annually to Bahia alone at the end of the 1820s).26 The first decades of the 19th century saw stagnation in the sugar industry as prices slumped in a Europe that had returned to peace and had adjusted to the hole in production left by the Haitian Revolution (with demand largely met by other Caribbean producers). The primary sugarcane producing areas in Pernambuco and Bahia saw no growth in engenhos and, in some places, had less land planted in cane than in earlier years.27 Brazil also faced serious political reshuffling at the time. In 1808, the Portuguese Crown had fled the invading French and sailed for Rio de Janeiro, which became the temporary seat of the empire. When the king returned to Portugal, Brazil broke from the mother country and established an independent empire in 1822.

Sugar production began to grow again in the middle of the century, but it hardly matched coffee’s expansion. As coffee farms spread along the Paraíba River valley of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the slave trade came under increasing attack, internally and from the British. Besides repeated debates on the fate of the African trade, this dynamic facilitated a large internal commerce in slaves that largely saw northern provinces selling to southeastern coffee-producing regions. The empire declared an end to the trade in 1830, only to have the trade continue with significant imports of slaves each year. A second law in 1850 was more successful.

Shifting Production and Labor Regimes, 1850–1930

From early in Brazil’s centuries-long competition with other sugar-producing regions, educated Brazilians and Portuguese took issue with what they saw as the backwardness of Brazilian farming and advocated more efficient techniques.28 In the 18th century, Portuguese agricultural reformers repeatedly criticized Brazil’s inefficient sugar planters, comparing them unfavorably to Caribbean producers. Through the 19th century, calls for agricultural improvement persisted, and professional groups emerged that pushed the empire to increase rural industry more aggressively.29 This widespread image of Brazil’s retarded progress came to rival the equally pervasive image of the country’s supposed “vocation” for agriculture.

In July 1878, the imperial Minister of Agriculture convened a conference on large-scale farming, but restricted the participants to planters from the southeastern coffee regions. Piqued, the Agricultural Auxiliary Society of Pernambuco organized a conference for sugar planters from the northeast.30 The dueling conferences dramatized coffee’s primacy in Brazil’s economy and the comparative decline of sugar. Sugar planters’ woes would continue in the next decade; a worldwide depression in sugar prices began in 1884 and worsened in the 1890s. These developments drove Brazil’s production increasingly inward, toward the domestic market.

Despite these challenges, Brazil’s overall production enjoyed a brief increase, driven by Pernambuco. The province’s output doubled between the late 1840s and the late 1880s, and reached a new productive high early in the 1890s.31 This growth did not keep pace with Cuba, which had drastically increased production from the beginning of the 19th century and had built on its gains as it began a new century with an influx of U.S. capital. Even Puerto Rico’s more modest sugar sector nearly matched the entirety of Brazil’s production in 1900.32 By the first decade of the 20th century, sugar represented less than two percent of Brazil’s export receipts, and the country’s sugar exports by weight, in 1910, represented just over a fifth of 1880s levels.33 Some of these trends unfolded over decades, and others were shorter term; Brazil still exported 60 percent of its sugar in 1901, but that figure dropped precipitously to 4 percent by 1904.34 Coffee, meanwhile, accounted for almost 60 percent of export income.35

Sugarcane planters responded to changes in the market by ushering in a new production model. An experiment with central mills to grind cane supplied by independent growers failed during the 1870s and 1880s. Meant to operate like the centrales of Cuba, the central mills would buy their cane from growers and concentrate on the industrial side of the business. The imperial government itself incentivized these establishments with an 1875 law.36 But after supplies from growers proved uneven, mills ended up buying some primary material but growing the rest on their own.37 These new establishments, called usinas, absorbed many smaller engenhos and brought downward mobility for many in the traditional planter class, who were forced into the role of suppliers. From the 1880s to 1910, more than sixty usinas were established in Pernambuco’s sugar zone, which saw the greatest growth. Southeastern producers, such as Rio de Janeiro and especially São Paulo, would see faster growth rates through the adoption of usinas only in the 1920s. In the first decade of the century, São Paulo had only six usinas.38 Alongside these increasingly dominant establishments were nearly three thousand engenhos in Pernambuco and nearly twenty-five hundred in São Paulo, the overwhelming majority of which were tiny, inefficient operations.39

At the same time that usinas began to proliferate in the sugar regions, planters brought new cane varieties into their fields. Many of these came from Réunion and Mauritius, speaking to the global reach of the sugar industry and the willingness of some Brazilian planters to seek solutions abroad. This was the second turnover in cane varieties, the first having taken place in the 1810s. Then, planters had adopted a new variety from French Guiana (sent when the Brazilian military briefly occupied Cayenne). Cana caiana, called Bourbon by French planters, quickly spread in Brazilian fields until it succumbed to disease in the 1880s, and new varieties were needed.40 Around the same time that the Pacific canes arrived to reinforce Brazilian fields, new national varieties emerged, hybridized by Brazilian producers themselves.41

These shifts in production conditions coincided with the abolition of slavery in 1888. Participants at the two agricultural conferences in 1878 had discussed the need for new labor supplies at the same time that they debated the renovation of agriculture. Passage of the free womb law in 1871, and a law freeing sixty year-old slaves in 1877, set the stage for what many planters and politicians saw as an impending labor crisis. The southeastern coffee planters had steadily imported northeastern slaves, buying an average of thirteen hundred slaves a year from Pernambuco between 1860 and 1879. Meanwhile, the percentage of enslaved workers in northeastern cane fields had dwindled. At midcentury, Pernambuco slaves had outnumbered free workers by three to one, but by 1872, free agricultural workers outnumbered slaves by five to one.42

In the context of abolition and the emergence of usinas, new living and work arrangements for cane workers coalesced, revolving around the concession or withholding of access to land. Though a variety of tenant categories existed, a basic pattern of labor for land emerged. Some tenants simply paid an annual rent for land while others gave a certain number of free days of work per year in exchange for their living quarters. But the greatest number were conditional tenants, expected to work on a daily basis for pay (as well as some unremunerated days) in exchange for rudimentary houses and access to land for subsistence plots. Planters had had tenant workers before, but usina production and abolition changed their conditions. Their average pay at the turn of the century was only three-quarters what it had been in the 1870s.43 As the slave population declined over the course of the century, the tenant category increased as a percentage of the population. Gradually, the boundaries between categories blurred, while access to land became increasingly important to all relationships between planters and residents on engenhos. Crucially for planters, the system kept workers bound to engenhos even without the legal tie of slavery.

This protracted transition from predominantly slave to free labor contrasts with the Caribbean or to the core of coffee production in the center-south. In the British Caribbean colonies, for instance, slaves made a four-year transition to freedom through apprenticeship, but emancipation in 1838 was otherwise abrupt. But in Brazil’s northeastern cane region, where free laborers predominated in the sugar labor force by the 1870s, the final end of slavery did not cause an acute crisis for planters (even if they made claims to the contrary). The slave population fell by almost 70 percent between the late 1840s and the late 1880s, even as sugar production doubled.44

Agricultural labor in Brazil’s sugar fields was just as local a business as other rural production settings around the world. Workers faced varying expectations depending on their region or even their specific employer, and this heterogeneity persisted deep into the 20th century. Most turn of the century Brazilian sugarcane farmers measured their land according to a unit called a task (tarefa)—an areal estimate of standing cane that would satisfy a mill for a single day of grinding.45 In the second quarter of the 20th century, management moved slowly toward tasks paid according to specific measured areas, and fewer workers received wages based purely on their working a set number of hours during the day. These changes set the stage for labor conflict later in the century.

State Intervention and Regional Divergence, 1930–1963

When Getúlio Vargas assumed the presidency in 1930, on the strength of a national backlash against coffee state dominance, he busily centralized power and shaped his administration on the principles of corporatism. Under his oversight, a group of autarkies were established to manage important commodities. The Sugar and Alcohol Institute (IAA) was founded in 1933, just before the National Coffee Department, in 1934. These semi-autonomous but state-led institutions brought the state into close cooperation with private interests. For sugar, the IAA had been presaged by the Committee for the Defense of Sugar, established a few years earlier, but the IAA sought to more fully regulate the national market.46 The IAA aimed at that goal by establishing production quotas for each usina and by empowering an executive committee to buy up stocks as a hedge against price declines. The committee also offered loans for infrastructure improvements and promoted the production of anhydrous alcohol, to be mixed with gasoline.47

While northeastern producers still accounted for the largest share of production in 1930, São Paulo’s comparatively newer plantations were far more efficient. On a steeper growth pattern since the 1920s, São Paulo overtook the Northeast in the 1950s.48 This energetic southeastern sugarcane industry mounted a swift response to a 1920s attack of mosaic disease, and its technological superiority was proven by the Northeast’s more ponderous reaction the next decade. São Paulo producers also migrated from coffee as a result of the 1930s crisis in the world coffee market, and they generally had easier access to capital than northeastern planters.49 During this period cane producers enjoyed robust support from various state agencies.50 São Paulo’s rise and the Northeast’s slide created a long-term challenge for the IAA.

The Institute also arbitrated rivalries within the Northeast (and to a lesser extent the Southeast), between mill owners and cane suppliers. The latter sought protections from the government to insulate themselves from the aggrandizing force of the mills. They needed to ensure fair prices for their cane if they were to hang on to their lands and avoid absorption into the expanding mills. The Institute ushered into federal law the Sugarcane Statute (Estatuto de Lavoura Canavieira, ELC) in 1941, which aimed to balance the interests of the mill owners and cane farmers. A part of the ELC sought to protect the rights and conditions of rural workers as well, mandating that engenho tenants receive a minimum of two hectares per family for the production of subsistence crops.

Though São Paulo reacted most quickly to mosaic, the response to the disease nationally demonstrated the Brazilian sugarcane industry’s increasing links to and reliance on a professional agricultural science sector. During the early 1930s and into the 1940s, scholarly specialization increased, and new universities developed courses in geography and agriculture. In 1936, the first Brazilian Congress of Agronomy convened, with participation by scientists studying sugarcane.51 Researchers working for the São Paulo secretary of agriculture, industry, and commerce brought to the conference a study, “The Creation of New Canes in the State of São Paulo,” which reported comprehensively on hybridization efforts at São Paulo’s Piracicaba Research Station.52

The same period also saw efforts to use sugarcane alcohol as a fuel. Vargas established a “National Alcohol Program” by decree in September of 1942, seeking to stimulate production in the face of wartime privation. The program drew on 1920s precedents for marketing alcohol fuel in the Northeast.53 Before and after the war, however, producers used alcohol production largely as a hedge against falling sugar prices and as a means to absorb excess molasses, a by-product of sugar production. When prices for sugar fell on the world market during times of high cane production, mill owners could switch to producing larger quantities of alcohol and seek an internal market. And during times of high sugar production, producers needed to find a use for all of the molasses that accumulated along the way. Efforts to find a use for alcohol actually focused on the chemical industry rather than the fuel market, and in general alcohol production was seen as a problem to be managed rather than a desirable end.54

The postwar period brought general expansion to the sugar industry, along with tighter oversight. Brazil signed on to the International Sugar Accord in 1953 and a few years later hoped to replace Cuban exports to the United States. Between 1948 and 1962, planters expanded their area planted in cane by nearly two thirds to feed the usinas.55 State and industry-supported research helped raise production levels, with producers adopting new cane varieties with higher industrial yields and increasing their use of fertilizers.56 The industry’s systematic adoption of fertilizers began only in the 1950s, with consumption rising steeply in the 1960s and 1970s. São Paulo’s Piracicaba Sugarcane Experimental Station Cane and Pernambuco’s Agricultural Institute of the Northeast led the way in sugarcane research. Both dated to the 1920s, and in addition to receiving federal support, they forged partnerships with regional usinas to experiment with new varieties, irrigation technology, and fertilizing strategies.57 The states also formed commissions to address cane pests and soil health in the 1950s. In general, northeastern producers were slower to respond to research than their southeastern counterparts. In the mid-1960s, for instance, less than half of Pernambuco’s usinas employed a professional agronomist.58

The 1950s also consolidated the divergence between São Paulo and northeastern producers, with the southeastern planters increasing their production nearly 400 percent between 1944 and 1954.59 By the end of the 1950s, 10 percent of the land dedicated to São Paulo’s highly developed farming sector was given over to cane, and the state’s largest cooperative of producers alone produced 45 percent of the nation’s sugar.60 São Paulo owed its rapid growth during the 1940s and 1950s in part to the synergy between planters and large manufacturing firms that specialized in sugar mill equipment.61 All of the producing regions struggled during the postwar decades with cycles of expansion and overproduction, a pattern that persisted into the 1990s. The use of alcohol as an outlet for excess cane was all but abandoned between the creation of the state-run oil company, Petrobrás, in the 1950s and the energy crises of the 1970s.62

Expansion, Labor Mobilization, and an Ethanol Boom in the Late 20th Century

Sugarcane workers initiated their earliest attempts at collective organization during the two decades after World War II. Mills were huge employers in concentrated areas of production like Pernambuco’s coast and the area between Campinas and Ribeirão Preto in São Paulo. Pernambuco’s cane industry directly employed nearly one hundred forty thousand workers in the 1950s, while São Paulo’s employed over two hundred thousand.63 Despite the provisions of the ELC, and the fact that urban workers gained organizing protections in the 1930s, rural workers did not have the right to unionize until 1963 and the passage of another piece of federal legislation—the Rural Workers Statute (Estatuto de Trabalhdor Rural, ETR).64 However, rural workers in São Paulo, Pernambuco, and elsewhere began mobilizing in the 1950s (and in fact, sporadic earlier attempts took place). At a national meeting in 1954, the Farmers’ and Agricultural Laborers’ Union of Brazil (ULTAB) was founded, serving as an organizing pole and as an example to rural workers around the country.65 Peasant Leagues also formed around the periphery of Pernambuco’s sugarcane region in 1955.66 Then, in the early 1960s, a rural unionization movement joined the Peasant Leagues, pushing passage of the ETR, which granted rural workers the legal right to unionize.

Unionization spread rapidly among sugarcane workers after the ETR, and by November 1963, the new organizations across the producing region in Pernambuco resolved to strike for higher pay and better employer compliance with the provisions of the Statute (smaller strikes had taken place over the preceding couple of years in Pernambuco and São Paulo). Cane growers and mill owners responded by firing large numbers of workers and shifting to a contractor or labor gang system, thereby avoiding the legal obligations due to workers they employed directly. Contractors took a cut of an established payment from the planter or mill and distributed the rest among their workers. This contracted work gang system had emerged at least as early as the 1930s, but it vastly increased in scale as the state’s role in labor relations grew; by the 1970s, it had become routine, with temporary workers outnumbering permanent ones. After an initial period of repression by the military regime, following the 1964 coup, organized labor experienced a resurgence in the 1970s. This period culminated in a 1979 strike of sugarcane workers in Pernambuco, a continued mobilization in the early 1980s, and a 1984 strike of cane workers in Guariba, São Paulo.67

In the middle of the 1960s, the IAA established a “Plan for the Expansion of the Sugar Industry,” meant to direct the industry’s growth. With contraction in the coffee industry, a further transfer of farmland from coffee to sugar took place in São Paulo. All of this expanded capacity brought a new crisis of overproduction in the late 1960s, though at the beginning of the 1970s, mill owners again triggered a surge in production. The world price of sugar in 1970 reached a staggering $1,400 per ton, dropping precipitously thereafter to $164 per ton by 1978. Brazilian exports rose from 800,000 tons in the 1960s to a high of 2.8 million tons in 1973 and remained around 2 million tons for the rest of the decade.68

At the end of the 1960s, in the wake of a recession and high inflation early in the decade, as well as the political upheaval associated with the 1964 coup, the government made a concerted effort to reorient the national economy toward agricultural export commodities. Brazilian officials were alert to the failures of their agricultural education system. In 1970, an effort sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) sought to expand degree-granting agriculture programs in Brazilian universities, and to send Brazilian students abroad for training.69 Over the next few years, the IAA launched a series of large programs: the National Program for Sugarcane Improvement (for cane hybridization), the Rationalization Program for the Sugar Industry (to bring agricultural and industrial innovation to producers), and the Support Program to the Sugar Industry (which supplanted the Rationalization Program).70

During this period of rapid and self-conscious modernization in the industry in the second half of the 1960s, São Paulo planters set a course for self-sufficiency. After research and planning, in 1970, the largest producer cooperative established the COPERSUCAR Technology Center (CTC). From the mid-1970s into the 1980s, the cooperative supplied half of Brazil’s sugar and nearly 10 percent of its coffee, registering as the fourth largest private company in the country. The IAA also helped the Northeast establish more experimental centers, and the region markedly increased its efficiency, though without rivaling São Paulo.71 Much of the new growth derived from increasingly modern techniques emerging from these centers. For instance, in 1961, when the United States used 39 kilograms of fertilizer per hectare, Brazil used only 8.4 kilograms. But Brazil reached 40 kilograms per hectare in 1974.72 Brazil’s increased used of fertilizers wildly outpaced the rest of Latin America.73 In percentage terms, fertilizer consumption in Brazil as a whole only increased 200 percent between 1950 and 1964, but it grew by almost 1500 percent over the next dozen years, from around 200,000 tons to 3 million tons. Similar rates of growth were seen with herbicides and pesticides. By 1974, cane planters in the northeastern region were using 101,057 tons of these, an increase of 600 percent over the previous decade.74 The national average for herbicide use reached over 3 kilograms per hectare in 1980, up from just over half a kilogram in 1965, and São Paulo planters used well over 4 kilograms.75 In the Northeast alone, sugarcane consumed 85 percent of all fertilizers and around a fifth of all herbicides used, a proportion that continued to grow.76

São Paulo’s sugarcane industry clearly benefited from an extremely active and well-funded state-based research sector. The state agricultural agency convened regular meetings of a public-private council called the High Agricultural Council, chaired by the Secretary of Agriculture, and a chain of research stations across the state provided systematic support to farmers. No other state in the country could boast such a robust research network and such generous state funding for support to agriculture. Of the sweep of agricultural research published in journals nationwide between 1927 and 1977, São Paulo scholars alone accounted for a full 62 percent of all articles.77

The largest single change to Brazil’s sugarcane industry in the 1970s came in the form of the National Alcohol Program. Instituted in 1975, in part as a response to the 1973 oil shock, the program set an ambitious production target for sugarcane ethanol, to be used as a gasoline alternative. In 1975, Brazil produced around 500 million liters of ethanol, and 3.5 billion liters by 1979. The program was renovated in that year and new benchmarks established, with production reaching nearly 12 billion liters in 1985.78 One of the more concrete measures of the program was the generous opening of credit markets for sugar and alcohol producers; loans made available in rural areas increased between 1971 and 1977 by 1,900 percent. In the ten years after the program’s foundation, its oversight commission approved five hundred projects for mills and distilleries. In 1981, of the nearly four hundred ethanol projects underway, all but 18 had financing from the program.79 Two years into its lifespan, 131 distillery projects had been approved nationwide, with 54 of those in São Paulo. Sugarcane cultivation expanded at a national rate of 422 percent from 1960 to 1985, with São Paulo accounting for more than 60 percent of overall Brazilian production by 1980.80

A debate developed in the late 1970s about the broader impacts of the alcohol program. Some scholars estimated that between 1969 and 1980, sugarcane took over 300,000 hectares from pastureland, over 100,000 from rice, nearly 90,000 from corn, 80,000 from peanut, and 23,000 from manioc, in addition to displacing other crops like potatoes to lesser extents.81 In addition, pressures increased on rural workers to cut larger amounts of cane, and seasonality—the rhythm of unemployment associated with cane work—reportedly was aggravated. Declining oil prices in the 1980s placed the expensive alcohol program in question, and ethanol production declined as Brazilian oil refining capacity increased. The program also played a role in provoking protests against the cane industry on environmental grounds. Alcohol production involves staggering quantities of wastewater, which was routinely dumped into waterways near usinas, causing fish kills and noxious fumes. Many researchers also argued that the cane field expansion associated with the alcohol program resulted in sharply increased rates of deforestation.82

The process of redemocratization and the increasingly neoliberal policies of Brazilian administrations from the late 1980s and 1990s decreased regulation of the sugarcane industry. Most dramatically, the IAA was dissolved. No longer would northeastern producers enjoy production quotas as they tried to compete with more efficient southeastern sugar. The industry increased its levels of mechanization, including for cane harvesting, which presented new challenges for rural unions. They also faced job losses from the labor savings associated with increased herbicide use. The trend toward flexible, non-permanent labor continued, becoming another persistent challenge for workers. During the 2000s, Brazil experienced another ethanol boom. With the advent of flex-fuel engines that can run on any combination of gasoline and ethanol, consumers could easily choose their fuel based on prices, and with rising oil costs over the decade many chose ethanol. In 2009, producer groups signed on to a sector-wide commitment to improve labor conditions.

Discussion of the Literature

Stuart Schwartz’s work is foundational. Extending from his Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550–1835 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985)Schwartz’s work with Açúcar e colonização (São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2010)Mary Eschberger Priante in Escravos, mãos e pés do senhor de engenho: Economia açucareira no período colonial do Brasil (Porto Alegre, Brazil: Razão Bureau Editorial, 2004).

An enormous historiography covers the various eras of sugarcane agriculture and labor in Brazil. As with the suggestions for primary sources, this will be a selective discussion. For the early centuries of sugarcane agriculture in Brazil, to his more recent work in the volume Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World, 1450–1680 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), Schwartz has done a staggering amount of research on the industry in Brazil and its formative role in the colonial experience. Vera Lucia Amaral Ferlini has built on , as has

Daniel Strum, The Sugar Trade: Brazil, Portugal and the Netherlands (1595–1630). Translated by Colin Foulkes, Roopanjali Roy, and H. Sabrina Gledhill (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013)Christopher Ebert, Between Empires: Brazilian Sugar in the Early Atlantic Economy, 1550–1630 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008).B. J. Barickman explored the diversity of Bahian agriculture in A Bahian Counterpoint: Sugar, Tobacco, Cassava, and Slavery in the Recôncavo, 1780–1860 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998).

The last decade has seen strong scholarship on early modern trade and economic relations, with two recent books covering the Brazilin sugar trade: and Brazilian slavery has a rich literature, with the 19th century receiving much more attention than earlier periods, and the Southeast comparatively more study than the Northeast. In addition to Schwartz’s work,

Peter Eisenberg wrote the classic The Sugar Industry in Pernambuco, 1840–1910: Modernization Without Change (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974).Roberta Barros Meira wrote Banguês, engenhos centrais e usinas: O desenvolvimento da economia açucareira em São Paulo e a sua corelaçnao com as políticas estatais (1875–1941) (São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2010).Kit Sims Taylor’s Sugar and the Underdevelopment of Northeastern Brazil, 1500–1970 (Gainesville: University Presses of Florida, 1978).

The 19th century sugar industry has prominent contributions for the Northeast and São Paulo. For São Paulo, Joey Galloway published a series of articles in the 1970s that offer important insight into the transition from slavery to free labor and put Brazil’s sugarcane industry into perspective in the world market. Of a similar generation is

For the 20th century, Manuel Correia de Andrade was the dean of sugarcane scholarship in Pernambuco. Trained as a geographer, Andrade wrote a raft of books about the rise of usinas, modernization in the industry, and environmental change (see, for instance, endnote 33). His long time employer, the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, also published a series of works on sugarcane by other scholars. A burst of excellent sociological and anthropological work appeared in the late 1970s and early 1980s, produced especially by a team of young scholars at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. These included Afrânio Peixoto, José Sérgio Leite Lopes, Moacir Palmeira, and Lygia Sigaud, all of whom produced excellent studies.

In terms of the culture and sociology of sugarcane, much of the literature exists in the shadow of the prominent intellectual Gilberto Freyre. His most famous books include the trilogy initiated by Casa-grande e senzala: Formação da familia brasileira sob o regime de economia patriarcal, 14th ed. (Recife, Brazil: Imprensa Oficial, 1966). A healthy literature on the culture and folklore of sugar in Brazil emerged in the mid-20th century, including works by Luís da Câmara Cascudo, Joaquim Ribeiro, and others. See for instance Câmara Cascudo’s Sociologia do açúcar: Pesquisa e dedução (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: IAA, 1971). A recent exhaustive study of labor in Pernambuco is Christine Rufino Dabat’s Moradores de Engenho (Recife, Brazil: Editora Universitária, 2007). A study of labor and the environment of sugarcane during the 20th century is Thomas D. Rogers, The Deepest Wounds: A Labor and Environmental History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010). A wonderful study of the destruction of the Atlantic Forest, including long discussions of sugarcane, is Warren Dean’s With Broadax and Firebrand (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). Wendy Wolford has done excellent work with sugarcane workers in the 2000s, examining perspectives toward land and labor: This Land is Ours Now: Social Mobilization and the Meanings of Land in Brazil (Durham: Duke University Press, 2010).

Primary Sources

Because of the breadth of possible primary sources for the history of sugarcane agriculture and labor in Brazil, from the colonial through the contemporary periods, this will necessarily be a highly limited selection of sources for various periods.

Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão, Diálogos das grandezas do Brasil (Recife, Brazil: Massangana, 1997 [1618])Padre Fernão Cardim, Tratados da terra e gente do Brasil. (São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1939 [1584])Joan Nieuhof, Memorável viagem marítima e terrestre ao Brasil, ranslated by Moacir N. Vasconcelos (São Paulo, Brazil: Martins, 1942 [1682])Gabriel Soares de Souza, Tratado descritivo do Brasil em 1587 (Belo Horizonte, Brazil: Itatiaia, 2000)Affonso de Taunay, André João Antonil (João Antonio Andreoni, S.J.) e sua obra: Estudo bio-bibliographico (São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia Melhoramentos de S. Paulo, 1923)André João Antonil, Cultura e opulência do Brasil por suas drogas e minas [1711], edited by Andree Mansuy (Paris: Institut des Hautes Etudes de l’Amerique Latine, 1965).

For the colonial period, the following are helpful, and sometimes easily available in reprints: ; ; ; ; ; and

For the 19th century, including the 1878 northeastern conference on agriculture, see: Henry Koster, Travels in Brazil, 2 vols, 2d ed. (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1817); Henrique Augusto Milet, A lavoura da cana de açúcar, edited by Manuel Correia de Andrade (Recife, Brazil: Massangana, 1989 [1881]); Sociedade Auxiliadora da Agricultura de Pernambuco, Trabalhos do Congresso Agrícola do Recife, outubro de 1878 (Recife, Brazil: CEPA-PE, 1979); L. F. Tollenare, Notas dominicais, tomadas durante uma viagem em Portugal e no Brasil em 1816, 1817 e 1818 (Salvador, Brazil: Progresso, 1956); and Felisberto Caldeira Brant Pontes Barbacena, Economia açucareira do Brasil no séc. XIX: Cartas de Felisberto Caldeira Brant Pontes, marquês de Barbacena (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: IAA, 1976).

For the perspective from the industry’s managers and producers in the 20th century, the IAA’s publication Brasil açucareiro is essential. In addition, the IAA archives are housed in the National Archive in Rio de Janeiro. Luis González wrote a dissertation at the University of Minnesota doing interesting work with IAA materials (“Law, Hegemony, and the Politics of Sugarcane Growers under Getúlio Vargas: Campos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1930–1950.”) Alexandre Barbosa Lima Sobrinho, long-time IAA president, wrote a book in 1943 that helped explain new legislation but also put the industry in economic perspective in the middle of the century: Problemas econômicas e sociais da lavoura canavieira.

Severino Rodrigues de Moura, Memórias de um camponês (Recife, Brazil: Editora Universitária, 1978)Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, Assassinatos no campo: Crime e impunidade, 1964–1986 (São Paulo, Brazil: Global, 1987)Manoel do Ó, 100 anos de suor e sangue: Homens e jornadas da luta operária do Nordeste (Petrópolis: Vozes, 1984).Júlio Bello, Memórias de um senhor de engenho. 3d ed. (Recife, Brazil: FUNDARPE, 1985 [1935]).

For 20th century sources on labor from the workers’ perspectives (which are hard to come by): ; ; And from a mill-owner’s perspective, see

Finally, scholars interested in pursuing archival research on sugarcane agriculture and labor should consult the Arquivo Nacional and the Biblioteca Nacional in Rio de Janeiro and the Arquivo Público do Estado for the states of Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo (and, to a lesser extent, Alagoas and Paraíba). For colonial history, these archives should be supplemented by work in the Arquivo Nacional Torre do Tombo and the Arquivo Histórico Ultramarino, both in Lisbon. For the Dutch occupation of Pernambuco and the sugar trade, important materials can be found in the Nationaal Archief in The Hague.

Further Reading

Barickman, B. J. A Bahian Counterpoint: Sugar, Tobacco, Cassava, and Slavery in the Recôncavo, 1780–1860. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998.Find this resource:

Dean, Warren. With Broadax and Firebrand: The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.Find this resource:

Ebert, Christopher. Between Empires: Brazilian Sugar in the Early Atlantic Economy, 1550–1630. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008.Find this resource:

Eisenberg, Peter. The Sugar Industry in Pernambuco, 1840–1910: Modernization Without Change. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974.Find this resource:

Ferlini, Vera Lucia Amaral. Açúcar e colonização. São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2010.Find this resource:

Freyre, Gilberto. Casa-grande e senzala: Formação da familia brasileira sob o regime de economia patriarcal. 14th ed. Recife, Brazil: Imprensa Oficial, 1966.Find this resource:

Leite Lopes, José Sérgio. O vapor do diabo: O trabalho dos operários do açúcar. 2d ed. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Paz e Terra, 1978.Find this resource:

Meira, Roberta Barros. Banguês, engenhos centrais e usinas: O desenvolvimento da economia açucareira em São Paulo e a sua corelaçnao com as políticas estatais (1875–1941). São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2010.Find this resource:

Priante, Mary Eschberger. Escravos, mãos e pés do senhor de engenho: Economia açucareira no período colonial do Brasil. Porto Alegre, Brazil: Razão Bureau Editorial, 2004.Find this resource:

Rogers, Thomas. The Deepest Wounds: A Labor and Environmental History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010.Find this resource:

Rufino Dabat, Christine. Moradores de Engenho. Recife, Brazil: Editora Universitária, 2007.Find this resource:

Sigaud, Lygia. Os clandestinos e os direitos: Estudo sobre trabalhadores da cana-de-açúcar de Pernambuco. São Paulo, Brazil: Livraria Duas Cidades, 1979.Find this resource:

Schwartz, Stuart. Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society: Bahia, 1550–1835. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1985.Find this resource:

Schwartz, Stuart. Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World, 1450–1680. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004.Find this resource:


(1.) Ambrósio Fernandes Brandão, Diálogos das grandezas do Brasil (Recife, Brazil: Massangana, 1997 [1618]), 11; Sociedade Auxiliadora da Agricultura de Pernambuco, Trabalhos do Congresso Agrícola do Recife, outubro de 1878 (Recife, Brazil: CEPA-PE, 1979), 69; Sonia Regina de Mendonça, O ruralismo brasileiro (São Paulo, Brazil: Hucitec, 1997).

(2.) Daniel Strum, The Sugar Trade: Brazil, Portugal and the Netherlands (1595–1630), translated by Colin Foulkes, Roopanjali Roy, and H. Sabrina Gledhill (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013).

(3.) Schwartz, “A Commonwealth within Itself: The Early Brazilian Sugar Industry, 1550–1670,” in Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World, 1450–1680 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004), 159.

(4.) Schwartz, “A Commonwealth,” 159.

(5.) Varnhagen, Francisco Adolfo de. História geral do Brasil antes da sua separação e independência de Portugal, Vol. 1 (São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia Melhoramentos, 1956), 1; Leonardo Dantas Silva, “Açúcar: O sal da terra pernambucana.” In Açúcar: A civilização que a cana criou (Recife, Brazil: Instituto Cultural Bandepe, 2002), 16.

(6.) Schwartz, “A Commonwealth,” 161.

(7.) Strum, The Sugar Trade; Christopher Ebert, Between Empires: Brazilian Sugar in the Early Atlantic Economy, 1550–1630 (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2008).

(8.) Warren Dean, With Broadax and Firebrand: The Destruction of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995), 79.

(9.) Stuart Schwartz, “A Commonwealth,”180.

(10.) Schwartz, “A Commonwealth,”169.

(11.) Dean, With Broadax and Firebrand, 79; Richards, John, Unending Frontier: An Environmental History of the Early Modern World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 392.

(12.) Schwartz, “A Commonwealth,” 193.

(13.) Schwartz, “Introduction,” in Tropical Babylons, 17.

(14.) Joey H. Galloway, The Sugar Cane Industry: An Historical Geography from Its Origins to 1914 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 77.

(15.) Gilberto Osório de Andrade and Rachel Caldas Lins, Pirapama: Um estudo geográfico e histórico (Recife, Brazil: Massangana, 1984), 151.

(16.) David Watts, The West Indies: Patterns of Development, Culture and Environmental Change since 1492 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 389; B. J. Barickman, “‘A Bit of Land, Which They Call Roça’: Slave Provision Grounds in the Bahian Recôncavo, 1780–1860,” Hispanic American Historical Review 74, no. 4 (1994), 657, 669.

(17.) Dean, With Broadax and Firebrand, 80. Richards, Unending Frontier, 393.

(18.) Shawn W. Miller, “Fuelwood in Colonial Brazil: the Economic and Social Consequences of Fuel Depletion in the Bahian Recôncavo, 1549–1820,” Forest and Conservation History 38, no. 4 (October 1994), 181–192.

(19.) Dean, With Broadax and Firebrand, 136–137; Shawn W. Miller, Fruitless Trees: Portuguese Conservation and Brazil’s Colonial Timber (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2000), 212–216.

(20.) Dean’s With Broadax and Firebrand is the closest work we currently have to a long-term study of these impacts. For intellectual treatments of agriculture and environmental destruction from the late 18th and 19th centuries, see José Augusto Pádua, Um sopro de destruição: pensamento politico e crítica ambiental no Brasil escravista (1786–1888) (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Jorge Zahar Editora, 2002).

(21.) Affonso de E. Taunay, André João Antonil (João Antonio Andreoni, S.J.) e sua obra: estudo bio-bibliographico (São Paulo, Brazil: Companhia Melhoramentos de São Paulo, 1923), 130.

(22.) Peter Eisenberg, The Sugar Industry in Pernambuco: Modernization without Change, 1840–1910 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 4.

(23.) Galloway, Sugar Cane Industry, 72; Stuart B. Schwartz, “Indian Labor and New World Plantations: European Demands and Indian Responses in Northeastern Brazil,” American Historical Review 83, no. 1 (February 1978), 47–50; Joseph Miller, “The Numbers, Origins, and Destinations of Slaves in the Eighteenth-Century Angolan Slave Trade,” Social Science History 13, no. 4 (1989), 395.

(24.) A well-known article comparing slave mortality on cotton and sugarcane farms in Louisiana has no precise Brazilian analogue, but it eloquently makes the point about sugar’s brutality. Michael Tadman, “The Demographic Cost of Sugar: Debates on Slave Societies and Natural Increase in the Americas,” The American Historical Review 105, no. 5 (December 2000): 1534–1575.

(25.) Katia M. de Queirós Mattoso, To Be a Slave in Brazil, 1550–1888, translated by Arthur Goldhammer (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1979), 71–73.

(26.) B. J. Barickman, A Bahian Counterpoint: Sugar, Tobacco, Cassava, and Slavery in the Recôncavo, 1780–1860 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1998), 136.

(27.) Reinaldo Funes Monzote, From Rainforest to Cane Field in Cuba: An Environmental History since 1492, Alex Martin, trans. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 83–85; Barickman, Bahian Counterpoint, 38.

(28.) Pádua, Um sopro de destruição, especially chapters 3 and 5.

(29.) Teresa Cribelli, These Industrial Forests (book manuscript, Cambridge University Press, 2014); Henrique Augusto Milet, A lavoura da cana de açúcar, ed. Manuel Correia de Andrade (Recife, Brazil: Massangana, 1989 [1881]).

(30.) Sociedade Auxiliadora, Trabalhos do Congresso Agrícola, 9, 12.

(31.) Eisenberg, Modernization, 179; Roberta Barros Meira, Banguês, engenhos centrais e usinas: O desenvolvimento da economia açucareira em São Paulo e a sua corelaçnao com as políticas estatais (1875–1941) (São Paulo, Brazil: Alameda, 2010), 134–135.

(32.) Galloway, The Sugar Cane Industry, 159. Eisenberg, Sugar Industry, 218.

(33.) Nathaniel H Leff, “Economic Development in Brazil, 1822–1913,” In Stephen Haber, ed. How Latin America Fell Behind: Essays on the Economic Histories of Brazil and Mexico, 1800–1914 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1997), 35. Eisenberg, Sugar Industry, 10, 179.

(34.) Meira, Banguês, 112.

(35.) Werner Baer, The Brazilian Economy: Growth and Development, 6th ed. (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2008), 20.

(36.) Baer, The Brazilian Economy, chapter 1.

(37.) M. C. de Andrade, Modernização e pobreza: A expansão da agroindústria canavieira e seu impacto ecológico e social (São Paulo, Brazil: Editora da Universidade Estadual de São Paulo, 1994), 37; Gileno dé Carli, O processo histórico da usina em Pernambuco (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Irmãos Pongetti, 1942), 10.

(38.) Meira, Banguês, 140, 146.

(39.) Eisenberg, The Sugar Industry in Pernambuco, 52–55; 108–111; Meira, Banguês, 146.

(40.) Watts, West Indies, 433; Eisenberg, Sugar Industry, 32; José Clovis de Andrade, Escorço histórico de antigas variedades de cana-de-açúcar (Maceió: Associação dos Plantadores de Cana de Alagoas, 1985), 63.

(41.) J. C. de Andrade, Escorço histórico, 63–66.

(42.) Eisenberg, Sugar Industry in Pernambuco, 158, 180.

(43.) Eisenberg, The Sugar Industry in Pernambuco, 5–20; 186; 239–240.

(44.) Eisenberg, The Sugar Industry in Pernambuco, 179–180.

(45.) Affonso Varzea, Geografía de Açúcar, no Leste do Brasil (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 1943), 261–263, Thomas D. Rogers, “Taking the Measure of Labor: Rural Rationalization in Twentieth Century Brazil,” International Labor and Working-Class History 85 (Spring 2014), 138–161.

(46.) Meira, Banguês, 141.

(47.) Fiona Gordon-Ashworth, “Agricultural Commodity Control under Vargas in Brazil, 1930–1945,” Journal of Latin American Studies 12, no. 1 (1980), 98.

(48.) Gordon-Ashworth, 100, Tamás Szmrecsányi and Eduardo Pestana Moreira, “O desenvolvimento da agroindústria canavieira do Brasil desde a Segunda Guerra Mundial,” Estudos Avançados 11, no. 5 (1991), 59.

(49.) Graciela de Souza Oliver and Tamás Szmrecsány, “A Estação Experimental de Piracicaba e a modernização tecnológica da agroindústria canavieira (1920 a 1940),” Revista Brasileira de História 23, no. 46 (2003).

(50.) Oliver and Szmrecsány, “A Estação Experimental,” 41.

(51.) Rachel Caldas Lins, “Natureza e limites do conhecimento geográfico,” Ciência e Trópico 6, no. 2 (1978), 272.

(52.) J. M. Aguirre, Jr., “Creação de novas variedades de canna no estado de S. Paulo.” Instituto Agronomico do Estado em Campinas. Boletim technico, no. 34 (São Paulo, Brazil, 1936), 7.

(53.) Richard F. Doner, The Politics of Uneven Development: Thailand’s Economic Growth in Comparative Perspective (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 177; Ozires Silva and Decio Fischetti, Etanol: A revolução verde e amarela (São Paulo, Brazil: Bizz Comunicação e Produções, 2008), 30.

(54.) Oliver and Szmrecsány, “A Estação Experimental,” 48.

(55.) Szmrecsányi and Moreira, “O desenvolvimento,” 64.

(56.) Antônio Augusto B. Junqueira, and Bento Dantas. “A cana-de-açúcar no Brasil,” In E. Malavolta, et al. Cultura e adubação de cana-de-açúcar (São Paulo, Brazil: Instituto Brasileiro de Potassa, 1964), 38.

(57.) Oliver and Szmrecsány, “A Estação Experimental,” 50.

(58.) J. M. da Rosa e Silva Neto, Contribuição ao estudo da zona da mata em Pernambuco: Aspectos estruturais e econômicos da área de influência das usinas de açúcar (Recife, Brazil: Instituto Joaquim Nabuco de Pesquisas Sociais (IJNPS), 1966), 131.

(59.) Mário Lacerda de Melo, “Problemas agrícolas e industriais do açúcar em Pernambuco,” Brasil açucareiro 28, no. 6 (1946): 52.

(60.) Walter Belik, “A tecnologia em um setor controlado: O caso da agroindústria canavieira em São Paulo,” Cadernos da Difusão de Tecnologia 2, no. 1 (January/April 1985), 101, 111.

(61.) Walter Belik, Pedro Ramos, and Carlos E. F. Vian, “Mudanças institucionais e seus impactos nas estratégias dos capitais do complex agroindustrial canavieiro no Centro-Sul do Brasil,” Anais do XXXVI Encontro Nacional da Sober, Poços de Caldas (Agosto 1998), 3.

(62.) Szmrecsány and Moreira, “O desenvolvimento,” 61.

(63.) José Leite, “A assistência médico-hospitalar, nas usinas de Pernambuco, à luz de um inquérito,” Brasil açucareiro 35, no. 1 (January 1950): 92; Belik, “Tecnologia,” 111.

(64.) Cliff Welch, The Seed Was Planted: The São Paulo Roots of Brazil’s Rural Labor Movement, 1924–1964 (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999), 215.

(65.) Welch, The Seed, chapter 6.

(66.) José Arlindo Soares, A frente do Recife e o governo do Arraes: Nacionalismo em crise—1955/1964 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: Paz e Terra, 1982).

(67.) Thomas D. Rogers, The Deepest Wounds: A Labor and Environmental History of Sugar in Northeast Brazil (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2010).

(68.) Bento Dantas and Lúcio dos Santos e Silva, Subsídios para o programa de desenvolvimento sustentável da zona da mata (Recife, Brazil: PROMATA, 1995), 4.

(69.) Douglas H. Graham, et al., “Thirty Years of Agricultural Growth in Brazil: Crop Performance, Regional Profile, and Recent Policy Review,” Economic Development and Cultural Change 36, no. 1 (October 1987): 1–34.

(70.) Szmrecsányia and Moreira, “O desenvolvimento,” 66–67; Dantas and Santos e Silva, Subsídios, 72.

(71.) Belik, “Tecnologia,” 110–111.

(72.) Éric Montpetit, Misplaced Distrust: Policy Networks and the Environment in France, the United States, and Canada (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2003), 13.

(73.) Malavolta, “Tendências no uso de fertilizantes na América Latina—princípios e perspectivas,” Anais da Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz,” 32 (1975), 663.

(74.) Malavolta and Rocha, “Recent Brazilian Experience on Farmer Reaction and Crop Response to Fertilizer Use,” Anais da Escola Superior de Agricultura “Luiz de Queiroz,” 35 (1978), 297; IJNPS, “O trabalhador rural volante na zona da mata de Pernambuco (Relatório preliminar),” Recife, Brazil: IJNPS, 1978, 32–34.

(75.) Belik, “Tecnologia,” 120.

(76.) Instituto Joaquim Nabuco de Pesquisas Sociais, “O trabalhador rural volante,” 32–34.

(77.) Gabriel L. S. P. da Silva, Maria A. S. da Fonseca, and Nelson Batista Martin, “Pesquisa e produção agrícola no Brasil,” Agricultura em São Paulo Ano XXVI, Tomo II, 1979, 185.

(78.) Enéas Rente Ferreira and Silvio Carlos Bray, “Avaliação dos caminhos e descaminhos do Proálcool em seus 15 anos,” Anais X Encontro Nacional de Geografia Agrária, 2–5 Dezembro (1990), 224.

(79.) Companhia de Tecnologia de Saneamento Ambiental, “Planejamento do uso racional das áreas agropastoris nas APA’s com destaque para as áreas canavieiras,” Vol. I (São Paulo, Brazil: CETESB, n.d. [1984]), 10; Ministério da Indústria e do Comércio, Comissão Executiva Nacional do Álcool, “Relatório Annual—1981,” 1982, 6.

(80.) João Paulo de Almeida Magalhães, Nelson Kuperman and Roberto Crivano Machado, Proálcool: uma avaliação global, 2d ed. (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil: ASTEL, 1991), 130. Companhia de Tecnologia de Saneamento Ambiental, “Planejamento,” 10.

(81.) Quoted in Regina Junko Yoshii and Minoru Matsunaga, “Comentários sobre o Programa Nacional do Álcool e a produção de alimentos,” Revista de Economia Aplicada (1983), 38.

(82.) Rachel Caldas Lins, “Efeitos sociais da degradação dos rios do açúcar do Nordeste do Brasil,” Ciência e trópico 8, no. 2 (1980), 199; Joaquim Correia Xavier de Andrade Neto, “A questão ambiental na zona da mata de Pernambuco.” (Recife, Brazil: Instituto Inter-americano de Cooperativa para a Agricultura, 1993), 19; Sistemas de produção florestal para a zona da mata (Recife, Brazil: IBAMA, 1996); Maria Lucia Ferreira da Costa Lima, “A reserva da biosfera da Mata Atlântica em Pernambuco: Situação atual, ações e perspectivas,” Série Cadernos da Reserva da Biosfera 12 (1998): 1–43.