Fernanda Rebelo Pinheiro
The Guararapes Battles occurred between Portugal Reign, supported by the defenders of the Empire, and the Dutch Army, on April 18th and 19th, 1648 and on February 19th, 1649. They took place at the Morro dos Guararapes, located in the current municipality of Jaboatão dos Guararapes (National Historian Guararapes Park), in Pernambuco, at the so Hereditary Capitania of Pernambuco (Brazil).
The Netherlands' occupation of Portuguese territories occurred when the Portugal Reign became administered by the Spanish Reign, after the death of the King of Portugal Henrique I in 1580, with no direct heir to the throne. The Netherlands at the time was a Spanish-controlled territory, which went to war to achieve independence from the Iberian domination (1580 - 1640).
One method, adopted by the Dutch, to attack the Spanish was to occupy the Portuguese colonies (e.g. Brazil, Angola, and Timor). To do so, the Netherlands created the Dutch West and East Indies Company, corporations that administered the Netherlands' possessions outside Europe, with the Western Company responsible for the occupation of northeastern Brazil. This occupation began in 1624, against the then capital of Brazil, Salvador (Bahia), but the Dutch permanence in this location lasted only a year since they were expelled in 1625.
However, in 1630, the Netherlands managed to occupy the Capitania of Pernambuco aiming to exploit the sugar production in the region, extending their control to the states of Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte. This phase of Brazil's history and, in particular, the history of the Brazilian northeast, is known as Dutch Brazil (Dutch colonial system in Brazil, 1630 - 1654), marked by the administration of the general-governor João Maurício de Nassau-Siegen (1637 - 1643), who carried out several actions for the development of the colony.
The relationship between the Portuguese settlers, landowners, and the Dutch worsened after the intensification of tax collection and the debts incurred by the landowners with the Dutch West India Company.
From 1645 on, the Dutch were constantly attacked by natives and Luso-Brazilians who intended to retake the domains occupied since 1630. These events became known as the Pernambuco Insurrection (1645 - 1654), motivated largely by the Guerra da Restauração (War of Restoration), which began in 1640, when Dom João IV took over the Portugal Reign (end of the Iberian Union).
Therefore, the inhabitants decided to fight for the expulsion of the Dutch, even with the lack of support from the Portuguese metropolis. The actions against the Dutch counted on the union of the three ethnic groups that made up the Brazilian population: Europeans, Africans, and Indigenous people.
The Portuguese born in Brazil were known as Mazombos and were led in the battles by Antônio Dias Cardoso, who had the support of the rural aristocrat João Fernandes Vieira, the indigenous leader Antônio Filipe Camarão, as well as a force of Africans commanded by Henrique Dias.
The first confrontation between the Dutch army and the defenders of the Portuguese Empire took place on April 18th and 19th, 1648 (1st Battle), at Morro dos Guararapes, in Pernambuco. This battle is considered the symbolic mark of the provenance of the Brazilian Army, since a feeling of patriotism and Brazilian nationalism aligned Luso-Brazilians, blacks, and natives to expel the Dutch, being April 19th the date of the commemoration of the "Brazilian Army Day".
The second confrontation occurred in the same place, Morro dos Guararapes, on February 19th, 1649 (2nd Battle), where the Dutch were defeated. At the same time that weapons were being employed, Portugal was diplomatically negotiating the exit of the Dutch from Brazil, which finally took place in 1654. As a consequence, the Netherlands started producing sugar in the Antilles, a region in Central America, which generated serious problems for the economy of the Portuguese colony, such as the fall of sugar prices and the loss of the commercial monopoly of the product in Europe (end of the sugar cycle).