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The South is my Country


Insurgency Overview


The South Is My Country (O Sul é o Meu Pais in Portuguese) is a separatist movement in the south of Brazil. The movement pushes for the independence of the three states of Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul in response to what they perceive as their under-representation in the Brazilian government. The movement held unofficial referendums in 2017 and 2018 and its secessionist ambitions stem from discontent with the Brazilian state and supposed cultural differences between the south and the rest of Brazil.


History & Foundations


The current sentiment expressed by the SIMC finds its roots in Brazilian history and the recurring separatist envies of the country’s south. For instance, the Ragamuffin War – an uprising which began in the south in the early 19th century – exemplifies the omnipresence of separatism amongst southern Brazilians. This war was a Republican uprising which was primarily fuelled by the differences between Rio Grande do Sul (a state in the south of Brazil) and the rest of the country. Although these differences were mainly economic ones, social differences were also observable. ‘Gauchos’ – nomadic farmers – often emphasised that their migration throughout Uruguay and Argentina made them feel less Brazilian than the general Brazilian population (Lynch).


Essentially, since the 19th century, separatist ideologies and values have been common in the south of Brazil. The SIMC movement is the contemporary political result stemming from centuries of a heterogeneous sentiment. Since the Brazilian Revolution of 1930, in fact, only two presidents from the three states in question have been elected democratically, and both have lost their mandates.


Objectives & Ideology


The SIMC movement was founded in 1992 by Adílcio Cadorin – a freemason and the former mayor of Laguna. The political aspect of the movement fights for the self-determination of the people of Paraná, Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul. The supporters of the movement believe that these three states have sufficiently different economic, social, political, and cultural characteristics in order to obtain the right to self-determination (Lynch). In fact, the south of Brazil has numerous cultural differences; the city of Blumenau in Santa Catarina celebrates Oktoberfest (a German festivity) annually, and some southerners continue to pledge allegiance to the Portuguese state.


Contemporarily, the SIMC’s approach towards unity has shifted from positive integration (the concept where people are unified through the emphasis of their similarities) to negative integration (the unification of a population through the emphasis of their differences from other populations). The results of the 2017 unofficial referendum – covered later in this Insurgency Report – were partially fuelled by a severe discontent with corruption in Brazil, notably regarding the escalations in the Petrobras scandal.


The core ideological narrative involves the self-sufficiency of the Brazilian south; the SIMC esteems that – in addition to being different from the rest of Brazil – they have the ability to sustain themselves economically and without Brazil. Nonetheless, the SIMC has not materialised into a legitimate political party – despite the founders of the movement having always been involved in Brazilian politics.


Political Abilities & Approach to Resistance


The South Is My Country movement is unarmed and non-violent. It does not fight for the independence of the southern Brazilian states through riots, uprisings, or armed rebellions. Rather, the SIMC remains strictly political and has even organised unofficial independence referendums.


The first referendum held by the SIMC took place in October 2016 and was named ‘Plebisul’. Plebisul asked over 600 thousand people in the three southern states whether they sought independence from Brazil, and 95% of the people voted in favour of secession (In Informal Referendum [...]). However, 600 thousand people only compose less than 3% of the total registered voters in these states, signifying the referendum had statistical and representative limitations. A second referendum was held in 2017, although this one only asked around 350 thousand people. The results were once again very strongly in favour of independence (with around 96% of voters seeking secession) (Phillips).


Nonetheless, this second referendum was paired with a petition for a popular initiative bill which sought an official referendum in 2018 (Phillips). This means that the group utilised its political abilities to try and host a referendum. This remains a difficult task given that Brazil’s constitution makes any secessionist movement illegal by nature (Ling).


International Relations & Perception in the Media


The SIMC does not have any known alliances with other political groups. The movement’s specific and unarmed nature may partly justify why alliances with other groups are not required. Nevertheless, the perception of the SIMC in the media has been relatively pejorative, notably in Brazilian media. The Brazilian media tend to criticise the southern separatist sentiment by highlighting that their religious beliefs, literature, and other cultural values remain extremely similar. Moreover, the group is often associated with far-right ideas (Brooke) and the German background of many of its political militants pairs the group with a neo-Nazi connotation in the media.

Works Cited (MLA-style)

Brooke, James. “Santa Cruz Journal; White Flight in Brazil? Secessionist Caldron Boils.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 May 1993, www.nytimes.com/1993/05/12/world/santa-cruz-journal-white-flight-in-brazil-secessionist-caldron-boils.html.


“In Informal Referendum, 95% Vote for the Separation of the South Region from the Rest of Brazil.” Internacional - En - Brazil - In Informal Referendum, 95% Vote for the Separation of the South Region from the Rest of Brazil - 05/10/2016, www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/en/brazil/2016/10/1820048-in-informal-referendum-95-vote-for-the-separation-of-the-south-region-from-the-rest-of-brazil.shtml.


Lynch, Gerard, et al. “Gerard Lynch.” Wide Orbits, 14 June 2018, wideorbits.com/life/no-country-for-southern-men/.


Ling, Laura. “Could South Brazil Ever Become Its Own Country?” Seeker, 24 Oct. 2016, www.seeker.com/could-south-brazil-ever-become-its-own-country-2061417041.html.


Phillips, Dom. “A Half-Million Brazilians Want to Break Away and Form a New Country.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Dec. 2021, www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/10/05/half-a-million-brazilians-want-to-break-away-and-form-a-new-country/.

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