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1. Figures concerning the area and population of the Amazon
vary according to the way it is defined. The figure of
4,87l,500Km² refers to so-called Amazônia Legal," which
comprises the whole of the Região Norte, with the states of
Pará Amazonas, Acre, Amapá, Roraima, plus adjacent areas of the
Região Centro-Oeste, with the state of Rondônia and parts of
Mato Grosso and Goiás, plus a chunk of the North-East, with the
state of Maranhão. The city of Manaus had in 1987 an estimated
population of 1,100,000.
2. The biggest change in the limits of Brazilian Amazonia since the Treaty of Madrid was due, early in the twentieth century, to the conquest from Bolivia of the present Brazilian state of Acre, located in the far south-west of the region.
3. Although some of the tax incentives of the Suframa system apply to the whole of western Amazonia (with the states of Amazonas, Roraima, Acre, and Rondônia investments have been overwhelmingly concentrated in the city of Manaus and its immediately surrounding area.
4. Excluding informal contacts, social gatherings, and the like (often an invaluable source of information), I conducted a total of 20 formal, in-depth interviews.
5. I tried to elicit as many data as possible on two special topics: the ethnic and cultural background of interviewees, and their relationship, as acting entrepreneurs, with the Free Trade Zone administration.
6. Of course, the very concept of a "real thought" is rather elusive and almost unreal. Why should some thoughts be more real than others? What I really understand by that expression are the guiding principles actually expressed in the behaviour of people. Indeed the ideal method of anthropology consists less in doing interviews than in observing the actual behaviour of social and cultural actors. However, circumstances often impose the adoption of methodological short cuts.
7. Of course financial benefits in the Free Trade Area also assume forms other than returns on invested capital: there are also the honoraria of consultants, lobbyists, and the like, as well as the salaries and gratuities of technicians, bureaucrats, public servants, etc.
8. Both Sombart and Weber, despite the apparent ethnocentrism of some of their statements, would certainly be ready to admit as "European" (in a very broad sense) North American, Japanese, and even some forms of South American entrepreneurship.
9. By this expression I mean, as the context of this paper has made clear, the commercial linkages, ohen reinforced by ethnic and kinship ties, between tradesmen in Manaus and their suppliers in Colón (Panama), Singapore, Hong Kong, etc. The study of these linkages would certainly represent an investigation of the highest interest for the anthropology and sociology of economic activity.
10. Just as a footnote to these theoretical remarks, let us also remark that Marx, a long time before Sombart and Weber and in spite of his thoroughly different conception of historical progress (since for him "the world of religion" is but "the reflex of the real world" of economic production), did not fail to note the connection between members of certain ethnic and religious groups and certain forms of economic activity. Thus, he speaks of the link between capitalism and Protestantism and mentions the presence of "Jews in the pores of Polish society" (Marx, 1967: 79).
11. Of course the gains of bureaucrats are not limited to their salaries and bonuses. To give just one example, they are also not infrequently recruited to top posts of private enterprises.
12. He adds: "The surplus production of this very strictly commandeered labour [in the Inca empire] went to the state, which applied it both to the reproduction of the material machinery of the state and to the maintenance of the court, and administrative officers, priests, and the military - i.e., officialdom in its diverse categories. The situation here is completely transparent" (Wittfogel, 1968; 189).
13. They have in mind the recently arrived manufacturers, who came to Manaus after the establishment of Suframa and with its support. Traditional crafts are not contemplated in their answers.
14. In a very broad sense. There are Paulistas not only from São Paulo but from practically every Brazilian state, and even some European ones. Paulistas are overwhelmingly managers of local branches of multinational and multiregional firms.
15. Two (maybe three) four-star hotels, a supermarket, and some shops belonged to East Indian &mikes, who had already started investing, in 1987, in the industrial sector as well. The links of these families of Sindhi roots with the East Indian diaspora found in Colon (Panama), Singapore, Hong Kong, etc., would certainly constitute a fascinating research topic in its own right. According to one of my East Indian informants, his is a small community in Manaus, which, although it never fails to gather "on Independence Day, Constitution Day, Dewali," is rapidly being assimilated by the local society. My infommant attributes this assimilation to the surprising absence of "a colour bar" in Manaus and to the influences of everyday life and of television programmes, mainly upon the young.
16. "Native," let it be stressed, no more than in the sense that they were already in the Amazon previous to the establishment, in 1967, of the Zona Franca system. To many of these entrepreneurs much of Weber's description of the "pariah community" would also apply. Keeping also in mind Marx's "Jews in the pores of Polish society," let us read the following quotation from a recent observer: "The so-called rubber economy gave rise to a strange pattern of interaction between the rural areas and the urban sector located in Manaus . . . There was no money in the interior and rural produce was exchanged for all sorts of manufactured goods, including household appliances, machines, equipments, etc. Traders based in Manaus took part in this process by importing produce from the hinterland in exchange for everything that was required by the rather primitive latex [the raw material for industrial rubber] gathering economy. It is in the wake of this process that we hear of the great merchant firms of that time, such as I.B. Sabba, M.F. Sorfaty, J. Benzecry, O.F. Bauman, and Jacco Sabba" (Mourão, 1984: 17).
17. But then there are several kinds of "natives," as the "immigrants" are themselves aware. They are not likely to confuse the member of a family of traders of recent Portuguese or Middle Eastem ongin with a caboclo whose parents lived by gathering latex in the jungle.
18. And this represents the whole difference between the power of the Superintendente da Suframa and those formerly wielded by the Mogul Emperors.
19. That tendency had already been observed by Mahar in his 1979 book: "Since the passage of this legislation [creating quotas and a total ceiling of imports], Suframa has shown a marked preference for industry; during 1987, commerce was allocated only 76 million US dollars (23.8%) ... while industry was allocated 200 million (62.5%). During the pre-import restriction year of 1975 ... commerce imported 94 million US dollars (44.9%) and industry imported 100 million (47.8%) of 210 million US dollars total" (Mahar, 1979;153).
20. Supposing, of course, that the higher the value of a quota attributed to a firm, the bigger the final profit of that firm.
21. Of course table 7.1 is very far from telling us the whole story. It tells us nothing about individual shareholders. I did have access to documents listing every individual owner or coowner of every firm registered at Suframa, but I did not have the resources, the time, or the institutional support required for a detailed investigation on individual ownemhip in the Zona Franca.
22. The mere inspection of names listed in table 7.3 indicates the importance in Manaus of investments by multinational and multiregional enterprises, locally represented by what I have called in this paper "surrogate entrepreneurs."
23. "Local" meaning those enterprises which were already installed in Manaus previous to the creation of the Free Zone. Locals often exhibit a somewhat ambiguous attitude toward the Zona Franca, Suframa, and the Supenntendent. Thus, one of their representatives, who happened to be one of the most respected tradesmen of traditional Manaus, had a very negative discourse concerning the tax incentive system and the way it was implemented. Yet he added: "I sell to prosperity and I eat from the cake." Then why the negative speech? First, because of what he sees as the inequities of the quota-distributing process. Second, and probably more important, because, in spite of what he may have gained in absolute economic terms with creation of the Free Trade Zone, he, and others like him, who used to constitute la crème de la crème of the local society, have suffered a relative loss with the coming into the area of foreign and Paulista firms and of the huge state bureaucracies which the older elites can no longer control.
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