Conceição crossed the Concentration Camp very quickly. Sometimes a voice would stall:
“Mistress, a little handout…”
She would take a nickel out of her purse and pass by, in a light step, running away from the promiscuity and stench of the camp.
What a cost, to go through that filthy trap of filthy people, of old cans and dirty rags!
This is an excerpt from Brazilian social critic and novelist Rachel de Queiroz’s first book Os Quinze. Published in 1930 and later translated in English as The Fifteen, it refers to the year 1915 when thousands of people fleeing a drought in the interior of the state of Ceará, in northeastern Brazil, were placed in a concentration camp on the outskirts of the state capital, Fortaleza.
Though little discussed today, in 1915 and again in 1932, eight concentration camps were built in the countryside of Ceará. Today, the rescue of the meaning and memory of such camps is more than a necessity. The camps of Ceará remind us how easily human beings who were considered undesirable could be discarded and isolated to avoid “infecting” the rest of the population and causing discomfort to the elites.
Full article at Zócalo Public Square’s website. Date of publication: 22/08/2020.