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The Postal Stamps of the Republic of Cunani
by Wolfgang Baldus

Publisher: Federal Senate
Translation: Ana LB de Almeida, Ana Paula B do

Amaral, Felipe Goulart Tomasi, Iana Maria AM Lorena 
113 p.

The Republic of Cunani  
                                                         By: Gian Danton

The Postal Stamps of the Republic of Cunani


  The location chosen for the headquarters of the new country was the Cunani region (the way the local Indians called the peacock bass). The locality consisted of 30 huts and 200 souls. At that time the region was dominated by captaincies, each headed by a captain. The captain of the Cunani was Trajano Supriano Benítez, a former slave who had come from Belém when he heard rumors that there was gold in the region. He had chosen the location because the region was essentially inhabited by blacks and, like them, he wanted the region to be ruled by France, since in that country slavery had been abolished.   In 1887, Ferréol Guigues and Paul Quartier arrived at Cunani with weapons and some run barrels. Sitting in a cabaret, they invited everyone who happened to drink with them. The only condition was to sign a document. This document was the declaration of independence of the Cunani region. Sixty people signed, which gives a good idea of the amount of run offered by the adventurers.  The document gave the presidency of the new country to Jules Gross and named a ministry – all composed of Europeans, most of whom never even knew about the honor, like the Minister of Public Education and Culture, a stamp dealer from Brussels.   What is the first thing a ruler of a new country does? Stamps, of course! It may seem surreal, but stamps were a way of legitimizing a country: if it had stamps, it had Post Office, and at that time that was synonymous with civilization. Furthermore, if the seal was used on international letters, it meant that other countries acknowledged the existence of the republic.  But these early seals were so primal that they looked like they'd been made by a five-year-old. In addition to the simple image (a star), it had the inverted price - which makes us believe that whoever printed it was not very aware of the printing process, since letters and numbers must be inverted in the matrix to be correct in the print, which did not happen .   The trio also minted coins and created a flag (all green with the colors of France in a square in the upper left corner). They walked around Paris as if they were foreign authorities and the self-advertisement was such that it ended up attracting the authorities' attention. The fictitious republic even had a “civil war”, when Guigues deposed Jules Gros from office and he did not accept the situation.  The thing dragged on for years, there was another president, other ministers (some knowing, some not) until the authorities decided to end the game. By then, the anecdote had turned serious: 12,000 men had already been recruited to invade the region and guarantee the existence of the Republic of Cunani.  This was not the first time the region became a fictional country. In 1874 one Prosper Chaton, former French consul in Pará, proclaimed himself President of the Republic of Cunani. That first Republic of Cunani turned out to be pure bad luck: Unfortunately Chaton was a gambler and ended up losing his country at a Cayenne gaming table.

Gian Danton (Lavras-MG, 1971) is a comic book writer and screenwriter and professor at the Federal University of Amapá. He regularly writes on his blog

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