Belo Horizante, Brazil - 1949
Belo Horizante, Brazil – 1949

Belo Horizante is short documentary produced by The Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs in 1949.

The OCIAA, established by FDR in 1940, had a stated mission to focus on strengthening ties in defense, economics, policy, and culture between the United States and Latin America.

In the film, Belo Horizante is heralded as one of the most modern cities in the world, a “planned city with a plan,” a pinnacle of modern living.

First conceived in the 1890’s, the city was revolutionary in that it was built with the coming sprawl that would mark the 20th century in mind.

Belo Horizante, the capitol of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais is home to the Governor’s Palace, and the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, and Education.

Washington, DC, was a great inspiration to the urbanists Aarão Reis and Francisco Bicalho who envisioned a city of grand avenues, modern cityscape, and magnificent parks and plazas.

Belo Horizante, Brazil - 1949
Belo Horizante, Brazil – 1949

But despite its modernity, Belo Horizante preserved Ouro Preto, the earlier city it was built around, in a pristine state.

As the film progresses, get a glimpse of Belo Horizante mayor Juscelino Kubitschek who would go on to become one of Brazil’s most successful presidents.

Before the establishment of Belo Horizante, the region, not unlike San Francisco in the United States, experienced rapid growth and economic boom times after a gold rush in the 19th century.

The discovery of iron brought in even more industrial mining, so much so that even the roads were paved with it.

The film praises the ingenuity and industriousness of the modern mining industry that has cleared forests and carved through mountains to extract minerals, ore and iron, that will be exported to São Paulo and build the infrastructure of Belo Horizante.

The abundance of quartz and mica, the narrator tells us, is invaluable to US defense technologies.

Belo Horizante, Brazil - 1949
Belo Horizante, Brazil – 1949

A nod is alos given to manganese, chromium, aluminum, silver, nickel, graphite, calcium, and zirconium.

Giant diamonds and semi-precious stones are also common commodities.

Agriculturally, the region cultivates vast crops of beans, tea, coconuts, peanuts, rice, wheat, and corn.

Industriously, areas zoned for factories and plants are developed in close proximity to railroads to export their goods and services to market.

Considerable attention was put into developing Belo Horizante’s residential districts, including uniquely designed homes, apartment houses, and hotels.

There are quality schools, music conservatories, agriculture academies, and modern hospitals.

One of the most interesting things about Belo Horizante is the modern architecture and its aspirations toward creating a high quality of life for the commonwealth, an aspiration many are looking for today.

Belo Horizante, Brazil - 1949
Belo Horizante, Brazil – 1949

The narrator concludes,

To him each year on September 7th, as he commemorates his independence day, freedom and liberty have a special significance. For free men were his fathers who planned his beloved city.  Highly resolved are his sons to remain free as they plan for their proper place in the assured future of orderly, progressive Brazil.

Today, Belo Horizante continues to evolve into a forward-thinking, cutting edge center of technology and commerce.