Established in 1815, the Consulate General of the United States in Recife is American’s oldest diplomatic post in Brazil. Together with Brazilians, we celebrate 200 years of friendship and collaboration between the United States and the Northeast. The United States has maintained diplomatic relations with the Northeast region of Brazil for longer than almost any place in the world. Since the arrival of the first consul Samuel Voorhees, the consulate has served the states of Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará, Piauí and Maranhão.
In 1817, the region’s second consul, Joseph Ray publically supported Pernambucan revolutionaries who sought independence from the Portuguese Empire. Ray opened his home to rebel leaders like Antônio Gonçalves da Cruz “Cabugá,” who later travelled to the U.S. as a representative of the revolution. Two of Brazil’s most important diplomats were Nordestinos. Professor Marcos Antônio Araújo of the Federal University of Pernambuco was one of five diplomats to negotiate the 1871 Treaty of Washington between the U.S. and the United Kingdom and native Recifense Joaquim Nabuco became Brazil’s first ambassador to the U.S. in 1905.
Perhaps one of the most important partnerships between the United States and Brazil was the construction of the Parnamirim military base in Natal during World War II. Roughly 5,000 American soldiers lived and worked at this air base, which accelerated regional development and transformed the local culture. At the time, Natal was the only city in Brazil to have a baseball field, which exists to this day!
The Northeast has received many important American visitors. In 1906, Secretary of State Elihu Root visited Recife to honour his friend Joaquim Nabuco. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt met with the Bishop of Natal Dom Marcelino Dantas and General Gomes in 1944 and Secretary of State Dean Acheson followed with a visit in 1952. Visits by American officials, figures, and tourists increase each year!
Looking towards the Future
In the 21st century, the United States and Brazil continue to prioritize English education and international academic exchange. With the support of the Consulate, three binational centers in São Luís, Ceará, and Recife, and offices of American Corners and EducationUSA form a support network to encourage young Nordestinos to study in the United States. Increased bilateral commerce has also contributed to the steadily increasing wave of travel between the Northeast and the United States. In 2014, the Consulate gave out nearly 100,000 visas—an increase of more than 16% compared to the previous year. In recent years, the Consulate has increased its consular staff, and installed offices for Foreign Commercial Services and Political and Economic Affairs. Our team at the Consulate General of the United States in Recife proudly celebrates 200 years of friendship and collaboration with the Northeast.