Brazil is the last
big frontier of retirement for Americans. The city
of Barretos is on the road for those Americans who live and love
the country lifestyle. Whether Reagan’s legacy has any meaning
for Brazilians in Brazil, Barretos can only gain by honoring
President Reagan in a city where the cowboy is still king.
A significant legacy of President Ronald Reagan is that image embodies the
medium and the message. It is the photo of Reagan riding a horse and dressed
as a cowboy while waving and flashing a big smile which lingers for some of
us. Such picture is a perennial montage of hope in the big frontier.
The only Brazilian place
which should put the memory of Reagan to some use is Barretos. Set in the
arid northern hinterlands of the state of São Paulo,Barretos
is famous for the biggest rodeo of South America, which this year will be
celebrated the last week of August.
Recent reports from the
Festa do Peão de Boiadeiro indicate that American cowboys are traveling
to Barretos to compete, to fall in love, and to enjoy the pleasantries of
finding so much in common with their fellow Brazilian cowboys.
Whether it is naming a
street after Reagan or erecting a statue of Reagan as a cowboy, Barretos would
do homage to the American cowboy lifestyle. It is such way of life which Reagan
enjoyed while away from politics.
The use of Reagan’s image
might bode well for Barretos’s economy. It is not a sign of partisanship.
It would create a bridge of goodwill and friendship with the Colossus of the
North, especially with the western states of the United States.
It would attract more
American tourists and dollars. It would place Barretos on the map of cities
associated with Reagan. Above all, it would be a celebration of hope in the
big frontier which the image of Reagan as a cowboy epitomized.
The big frontier of open
spaces and blue skies is basically a myth made in Hollywood. Under the seemingly
free and open spaces were always the native indigenous communities who were
there before the first American cowboy got into a horse.
The story of how the cowboy
won the American West by displacing the indigenous communities is told in
such non-fiction books as Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
Interestingly, some indigenous
communities have publicly celebrated the memory of President Reagan as one
who advocated for the rule of tribal government as shown by a June 11, 2004
one-page homage paid by a tribal association of indigenous communities to
the Los Angeles Times.
The money used for such
ad came from legalized gambling in casinos on tribal lands in California.
In the era of globalization,
every town shapes its own destiny and history while never remaining an island
unto itself. Whether Barretos wishes to cast its lot in honoring Reagan is
up to the people and government of the municipality of Barretos. Even if Barretos
decided not to have anything to do with Reagan, the ensuing debate in Barretos
would be useful to all of us.
Every year more Americans
are attracted to the hope of retiring in Brazil. It is not the lifestyle of
big cities that these Americans will be looking, but the comfort and safety
of small towns and cities, like Barretos, where the dollar might go a long
way. It is better to be a big fish in a small pond.
Brazil is the last big
frontier of retirement for Americans. Barretos is on the road for those Americans
who live and love the country lifestyle and wish to see the end of their days
Whether one loves or hates
Reagan, and whether Reagan’s legacy has any meaning for Brazilians in Brazil,
Barretos can only gain by considering whether to honor President Reagan in
a city where the cowboy is still king.
Edgardo Quintanilla, an American Immigration Lawyer, is a member of the
State Bar of California and the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.