Although the history of Guarani before 1511 has not been thoroughly explored, it is widely believed by many historians that these people have lived in South America since prehistoric times. Guarani cannot be called a tribe, it would be better to say that they are people, who have common cultural origins. Their settlements could be found in the present day Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina and Paraguay. It is worth mentioning that, despite the ceaseless efforts of European colonizers to destroy Guarani culture, some of its elements are preserved nowadays, especially the language. It is still spoken in Paraguay, though upper classes mostly prefer Spanish or Portuguese.
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As we have already mentioned the first encounter between Guarani and Europeans took place in 1511. The newcomers attempted to make “full use of the natives”, in other words, to enslave them. Many indigenous people were either killed or put into slavery. The situation underwent a certain change with the arrival of Jesuit mission. Missionaries tried to convert Guarani into Christianity, albeit with varied success. Overall, we can say that Guaranis attitude towards the missionaries was quite benevolent because the church gave them some protection against slavery. However, it could not stop slave traders regularly attacked the settlements. Sometimes such encounters resulted in many victims, even among the priests. Overall, the indigenous people accepted the new religion because it defended them against slave traders.
The so-called Treaty of Madrid, which was concluded by two superpowers, Spain and Portugal, but the Jesuit missions in danger. According to this treaty, the territories belonging to Spanish Jesuits had to be surrendered to the Portuguese. In turn, it forced the natives to abandon their lands. It should be mentioned that the Treaty of Madrid entirely disregarded the fact that the lands, these counties tried to divide, had already been inhabited by other people.
Naturally, such a policy aroused a storm of protest among the Guarani people. Their letter, written to the governments of both counties, clearly states that the indigenous people do not want to leave their lands. They also stress the idea that Guarani does not object to Jesuit missions. We can see that they truly embraced the faith in Jesus Christ. It should be mentioned that Guarani describes the Portuguese, who were at that moment notorious as slave traders, as people, violating the main Christian principles.
This appeal was irretrievably lost upon the kings of Portugal and Spain. Two years later, it resulted in the so-called Guarani War, a were struggle of the indigenous people against the allied forces of the two superpowers. It was eloquently described in the film “The Mission”. This film stresses the idea that Guaraní people proved to be better Christians, than European colonizers. It can be substantiated by concludeome the final words of the bishop who does not approve of the bloodshed and he says that “But in truth, It is I who am dead and they who live”. These words show that that Guaraní people were just martyrs, whereas Spanish clergy proved to be oppressors of the true faith. The final scenes of the film prove that, the Christian world must be based on love. However, many people seem to forget it.
Thus, we can arrive at the conclusion that the relationships between the Guaraní people and the first Jesuit missions could have been very fruitful if these missions had not been destroyed by the armed forces of Portugal and Spain. The brutal force resulted in the decline of Christian missions in South America.