This chapter talks of the final transaction for Ford to actually purchase the
estate within the Amazon. Blakely and Oz Ide are the actual two who negotiate
the deal. They get about 2.5 million acres along the Tapajos River. A local governor
named Bentes helped broker the deal, which gave much to Ford. The two men
representing Ford tried to get everything they asked for, including all rights
to minerals and oil, but the only thing they must do on the property is plant
at least 1000, of the 2.5 million, acres with rubber trees within the first
year of the contract. They purchased the entire property for $125,000 which was
chump change for Ford at the time. It then goes on to talk about how the men
must then purchase subsequent deeds from inhabitants of the land, the most
significant is the Francos, who have lived on the property for over a hundred
years, but after this is done the property is almost entirely Fords, with
Blakely in charge. The Amazonian people are excited about the coming of Ford
and various newspapers describe how he will bring riches to the area, but they
all really want Ford himself to come, but he keeps delaying.
The next big issue is getting supplies to Fordlandia from Dearborn. Ford
recently bought a multitude of ex-marine ships, and had most of them destroyed
and used for parts, but kept two, the Ormoc
and Farge. These were large cargo ships
that would be in charge of sailing right up to the Fordlandia pier. But there
was a problem that no one had considered to tell the people loading these two ships,
only in the wet months would they actually be able to reach Fordlandia itself.
When the ships were ready to go, in the dry months, Dearborn sent them anyways.
When the ships arrived in Brazil they made it to Santarem, a port around 100
miles away from Fordlandia. Captain Oxholm was in charge of these ships and he didn’t
to wait till the wet season to finish the journey so he unloaded the cargo onto
smaller ships and sent them up river, which cost a huge amount of money, more
than that of the initial purchase.
Fordlandia didn’t start out all that great, Villares and Blakely took charge of
the plantation, but failed to clear the land with burning because they tried to
do it at the wrong time which wouldn’t allow the trees to fully burn. Blakely
kept reporting to Dearborn that the plantation was running well but another
Ford dealer in the area reported that this wasn’t the case at all, as nearly
half of the workers were sick with some type of disease or malnourishment. Much
of the money being sent ended up in someone’s pocket, especially Blakely’s. Eventually
story broke in Brazil of how Ford negotiators had gotten everything they
wanted, even no export taxes, and no duties. Bentes was no longer governor of
the area and Valle, the new governor, wanted to impose high taxes on the planation.
They had to pay taxes on everything that the two ships brought in if it didn’t have
to directly contribute to the cultivation of the rubber trees.
Labor was a big issue for the plantation. When Blakely was dismissed as overseer
of the plantation, Oxholm took over and tried to recruit people from Brazil and
other Latin American countries to come work on the plant, but the turnover rate
was 300%. Various reasons caused the workers to come and go, the low wages,
that workers actually go paid and weren’t indebted like previous system, and Fords
enforcing of prohibition. Prohibition, which was now in effect in the United
States, Ford had enforced on all of his institutions throughout the world. But
people at Fordlandia didn’t like this very much. At Fordlandia a hospital had
been established for the workers and their families, but it was way
understaffed for the huge influx of workers and their large families that
brought with them. Things were look very hard for the plantation.
It was impossible for the captain of the two ships ford had brought to get down
to Fordlandia itself. This is example of how at times nature really does inhibit
people. The only way that materials could get up the river during the dry
season was the use of the smaller boats. To plant the new rubber trees, it was necessary
for parts of the forest to be burned down and that’s exactly what they workers
did, but this was a very dangerous process with the wild bugs and animals possibly
killing every worker that came by.
A large issue in this section was the tariffs, something enacted by the
government. Blakely hoped to achieve tariff free, but the failing Brazilian
banks needed this tariff to help spark the economy. The ever changing power and
the power struggle within both Brazil and Fordlandia itself, led to mass
confusion and disorder with the town.
From all over Latin America, but mostly within Brazil, people moved to Fordlandia
for a higher pay, although it was frequent that they stayed for long periods of
time. It was constantly that workers would come to earn some wages, and then
they would go back to wherever they came from so that they could work on their
own small farms.
Corruption in government - especial as it related to big business.
(Concept 6.3 I. A.)
This is again very pressing in this section, as the corruption actually comes
into the public’s eyes. Similarly, in the United States, after corruption is made
public, people within the government want to fix the problem and that was
something Valle tried to fix and mostly did when he became the new local governor.