Jean-Frédéric Bosset de Luze (1754-1838)
Fazenda Borel, Colonia Leopoldina in Bahia - Helvecia
drawing watercolor on paper, 33 cm x 48 cm.
Private Collection Geneva Switzerland
Colonie Léopoldine (Fondaõ)
Brésil province de Bahia. 1780
A. Borrel Propriétaire
Helvécia is a former German-Swiss colony originally named Leopoldina and whose current name keeps the memory of one of its plantations named by a Swiss settler. Founded in 1818, Helvecia developed with the cultivation of coffee of which it produced more than 90% for the state of Bahia until it became one of the most important coffee exporters in Brazil in the middle of the 19th century. This success was due to the large-scale exploitation of enslaved people, a practice supported by the federal government of the time, as revealed by some archival documents. In 1888, the law abolishing slavery in Brazil sounded the death knell for the colony. Since then, the enslaved people have remained on the lands abandoned by their owners and in recognition of its past, the community of Helvécia was granted the status of a former quilombo* in 2005.
*A quilombo in Brazil is a village formed by runaway slaves in remote inland areas. The particularity of Helvécia lies in the fact that once the settlers had left, the slaves settled in the same place until today.
Novo Friburgo (Colonia Suissa