Lesson 7) Major South American Governments

The professor leans against the wall outside of the History of Magic classroom with what appears to be black marbles in her hand. She greets each student as they begin to find their way inside, asking how they are and how their day is going before passing them a black marble and instructing them to keep hold of it while finding their seats.

Welcome back to History of Magic! Last week we discussed the history of South America including the origin, discovery, and development of Castelobruxo and the magical communities of Tarapoto and El Dorado. We are not quite finished, as I was unable to cover Argentina’s magical history, so that is where we will start today followed by a brief discussion of the Brazilian Ministry of Magic’s cooperation with the Argentinian Council of Magic. Without further ado... let’s get started! 

In order to fully understand and appreciate the current magical climate in Argentina, we must first turn our attention towards two specific magical groups that have lived in Argentina since its inception, though the land was known by a different name then. The two peoples we will discuss today have many similarities and are excellent examples of how magic can and should be used to survive the harshest climates. Yet, despite their similarities, you’ll find that they are also very unique.

The Yaghan
Considered the world’s southernmost indigenous group, the Yaghan made their way through the channels of Tierra del Fuego (“Land of Fire” in English) in the south of Patagonia over 10,000 years ago. Their journey was not easy and to this day, they are regarded as a culture and people that learned to survive some of the most extreme conditions on the planet. Though the origins of the Yaghan are unknown to many Muggle historians, magihistorians are fairly certain that they are indigenous to the southern parts of Argentina and Chile based on the discovery of places such as Bahia Wulaia, an area found on Navarino Island, on the Chilean side of the Beagle Channel consisting of rocky hills in which the Yaghan sought refuge from the bitter cold. How do a bunch of rock hills and small cave-like homes on a number of islands suggest any kind of magic use? It wasn’t so much the location as it was the structures themselves. After studying the architecture of these homes, magihistorians and architects concluded such residences would not have been structurally sound enough to remain upright on their own and that hollowing out a rock formation of this composition and size with the tools available at the time would have been nearly impossible without magic. After consulting a number of charms experts, it is generally believed that an early version of the Tunneling Charm was used to hollow out the rocks and a collection of stabilizing and strengthening forms were used to ensure stability.

If that doesn’t convince you, allow me to go a step farther. The Yaghan were naturalistic, in that they lived completely nude despite the frigid temperatures of Tierra del Fuego. To give you some background, the average temperature on land in the southern cone at that time was very cold and the water averaged a temperature of 8 degrees Celsius (48 ℉). What makes their lifestyle even more impressive is that the women would dive into the water to fish despite such temperatures. Water at that temperature combined with the cold blasting air would give any normal human hypothermia and likely kill them, but the Yaghan were ingenious in how they solved that problem. They did not only hunt fish, but also other large mammals for food and, in the true spirit of naturalists, believed in using every part of their kills. The animal blubber (or fat) was used to help them keep warm when diving and hunting outside. Many magihistorians believe that the Yaghan charmed the blubber with a variation of a warming charm before application. Through experiments done by charms experts, we believe the blubber insulated the warmth from the charm, which allowed the blubber to be warmer and more protective. In addition to their charmed animal blubber, it is thought that the Yaghan used the Bubble-Head Charm when hunting larger prey, which would allow them to stay underwater for extended periods of time.

Interestingly enough, the Portuguese were the first of the Europeans to discover the southern cone in the 16th century. However, they saw a lot of smoke coming from the islands and chose to leave the people there alone for the fear of being ambushed. It wasn’t until the 19th century that other explorers from Europe properly encountered the natives living in Tierra del Fuego. What they described as seas and “lands of fire” were really just the Yaghan utilising a variant of a Fire-Making Charm to warm their homes and canoes while hunting. Based upon the holes in the roofs of the homes and what appear to be scorch marks on the ceiling, it is thought the Yaghan levitated the flame to the hole where it would warm the home for the night and not despite the frigid temperatures outside. The “sea of fire” the Europeans saw was the use of this same spell in the canoes where members of the Yaghan would sleep or spend the night in the field in search of larger prey.

Unfortunately, the Yaghan did not survive as a civilization when the Europeans arrived in force and brought with them foreign disease. Currently known herbs or potions could not save them and the missionaries that lived among them only hastened the process. As far as we know now, there is only one remaining full-blooded descent of the Yaghan, Cristina Calderón (born May 1928), who has been an invaluable resource to the wizarding community as we work to complete the history of her people. She is also the only person around today who can speak their language.

The Tehuelche
Approximately 4500 years ago, while the Yaghan lived in the hills and caves of the southern tip of South America, the earliest documented Tehuelche tribes were living in all sorts of places.  Whether that was high up in the Andes Mountains, or down in the plains of Patagonia, they lived a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle, moving from place to place as they followed whatever they were hunting. The Tehuelche wasn’t just one huge group of people but more of a collective name used for lots of different subgroups and individual tribes with their own regional dialects or unique customs and traditions. It was just a few minimal differences, but this was enough to be able to separate them even if their overall way of life was almost exactly the same. The really interesting thing to note is that the Tehuelche were not exactly like us - they were all giants! Half-giants to be more specific, as they did not quite measure up to a normal giant size, and they were also significantly more intelligent than the typical giant. Though we are not sure how this civilization was created - as most half-giant populations require breeding with a human or other species - their mythology has a story about their Gurg (the leader of a giant tribe) mating with a god. It is that story that is used to explain their intelligence and more complex magic when compared to their giant ancestors. 

Now, remember those marbles I gave you at the start of class? This is where they will come into the discussion. A lot of the tools and objects the Tehuelche used in their everyday lives were made from rocks such as basalt or obsidian as they were small and light enough to carry around on their person as they moved from place to place and the tools they created wouldn't break as easily as other softer rock types might have. The only real issue with using these specific types of rock was that they were only found in certain areas of the country so the Tehuelche would often have to travel back to these locations to get more of the material if they ran out. 

Those little marbles you all have are not the actual ones used hundreds and thousands of years ago, but are simply replicas also made from obsidian. The real ones were a common object found in and around the known territories and trails of this group of people. But what was the purpose of such small round objects? Believe it or not, they actually had more than one use. Firstly, it is believed that the Tehuelche as a whole had a higher proportion of seers in their ranks compared to magical populations nowadays. As many of them practised the art of divination, it seemed wise that they would carry their tool of choice with them and the glassy surface of the obsidian made this the perfect object to use. Even if one did not possess the abilities of a seer, this didn’t mean that the objects were useless. They were also used to communicate with others which makes sense considering their way of life. This was particularly beneficial when trade was established between different tribes as you will see.

When the Europeans reached the shores of Patagonia in the 16th century, you already know that they chose to ignore the Yaghan. Well, they chose a similar tactic here as well and decided not to engage with the Tehuelche when they encountered them from a distance on land because their size intimidated them. Instead, they simply dropped everything where it was, including some of their horses, and went straight back to their ships.The horses left behind bred and, after a century or so, there were a significant number of them in the wild. Muggle historians believe that the Tehuelche took advantage of this and took the time to tame them so that the tribes could have had an improved way of life and travel further by horse instead of by foot all of the time and giving them the opportunity to establish trade routes with the most distant tribes. This may be true if they had used some form of enlargement or growth charm on the horse to cater for the size of the half-giants but there’s no evidence to suggest that this was the case. So it is just thought that the horse actually became a new source of food for them and the Tehuelche had maybe adopted or somehow discovered magical methods of travel instead.

Unfortunately for the wizarding community, the Tehuelche began their decline when the Europeans returned a few centuries later. The majority of wizarding communities in Europe were still fearful of giants and half-giants as they had either had horrible experiences with them in the past or had heard stories passed down from others. Instead of putting prejudice aside and attempting to have any sort of peace, they immediately took up arms and either slaughtered the people or forced them to flee elsewhere in an effort  to colonize the continent. In the end, it didn’t really matter if the people escaped or not as the Tehuelche suffered a similar fate to the Yaghan in that foreign diseases brought by the Europeans was one of the contributing factors to their overall downfall. It seems strange as one would have thought that some of the Tehuelche would have been able to divine or see the downfall of their people and attempt to do something about it but as far as we know, that didn’t happen.

Nowadays, there are still people living in a small village in the Santa Cruz Province of Argentina, who claim to be descendants of Tehuelche and can still speak some of the dialects which are unfortunately dying out with the people. 

Colonization of Argentina

Arrival of the Spanish
As has been mentioned before, the Europeans going over to colonise the continent had a huge impact within South America. This is the same for the city of Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, with the arrival of the Spanish. 

Buenos Aires is believed to be one of the only cities in the world to have been founded twice. In 1535, a Muggle, Pedro de Mendoza, sailed from Spain across the Atlantic with 13 ships and around 2000 men in an attempt to colonise a part of the continent. The voyage could have easily failed at this point due to the number of difficulties along the way such as huge storms as well as suspected disloyalty from some of the higher ranking officers in his crew. In February 1536, they arrived and Buenos Aires was founded for the first time. What should have been a time of growth and possibilities quickly turned into the opposite as the colonists and the tribes of the land didn’t see eye to eye, which resulted in a number of attacks from both sides.  By the end of the year, the natives had acquired help from other groups (magical and non-magical) with a total of around 23,000 men and continued attacking the city. The colonists could barely hold on with their defences constantly being weakened and were also starving due to an ongoing famine. Eventually, the majority of the colonists had to abandon their new city as it was either that or be slaughtered. Many fled up river to Paraguay and a few accompanied Mendoza back to his homeland. Unfortunately Mendoza wasn’t at full health and died en route before he made it back to Spain. 

In 1580, the Spanish tried again. A number of men led by Juan de Garay came down from their new home in Paraguay and founded the city for a second time. They had learned what had gone wrong the first time and immediately set about planting and growing crops and opening a port to allow for trade between countries. With all of this, Buenos Aires slowly grew and trade became increasingly more important especially within the magical world. Trading legally was a very slow process due to many constraints placed on ships and routes by Muggles. So illegal trade became a rather big part of life, both for Muggle and magical items. Magical contraband wasn’t just limited to items from Argentina either, as it was quicker to transport things across the continent rather than around it. Illegal trade often included things like dragon eggs from Peru and dangerous powders cleverly disguised as Peruvian instant darkness powder among other crazy magical plants and potions that could only be grown or created in South America.

Argentina remained under Spanish control as the British invaded in 1806 and 1807. Their invasions both ended in defeat as the people of Argentina fought back diligently without any help from the Spanish whatsoever and retained control of their lands. Interestingly enough, this war would not have been won without the help of witches and wizards of the Argentinian wizarding community. The attack by the British actually acted as a catalyst and the people of Argentina realised that they were capable of fighting their own battles and wished to rule themselves from then on. They formed their own government a few years later and after a long war, the people of Argentina officially declared their independence on July 9th, 1816 - though battles continued for another two years until they were recognized as an independent and autonomous country.

The arrival of the Spaniards and British - before their defeat - led to the destruction of the two tribal people we mentioned earlier, but it was the arrival of the Spanish and creation of the black market that reintroduced witches and wizards to Argentina, specifically Buenos Aires, where the largest wizarding community of Argentina is located. It also houses the Argentinian Council of Magic and three wizarding villages: Zettucci, Sorica, and Caceres. 

South American Magical Governing Bodies

Argentinian Council of Magic
When I reference this particular governing body there is one question that often arises and you can put your hands down because I am going to address it. You may know that there is a Brazilian Ministry of Magic (BzMoM), which would make sense considering it hosts Castelobruxo and a large portion of the South American wizarding population. If that is the case, why does Argentina have a separate government and why is it called a council rather than a ministry? The Argentinian Council of Magic (ACoM) - established on December 23rd, 1822 - could be compared with the Wizard’s Council, which was the governing body for the British wizarding community before the Ministry of Magic was formed. However, the ACoM did not undergo the same restructuring, likely due to Argentina’s presidential system since their independence. Having been ruled by a number of foreigners, the No-Maj and wizarding community of Argentina both believed in the importance of being represented by people they elected - thus the presidential democratic republic was formed. In the ACoM, the president is the Head of State, Head of Government, and the Commander in Chief of the military, but the Council itself consists of three separate branches: District Councils, Court of Judges, and National Congress.

The ACoM was considered the main South American governing system since it was created before the Brazilian Ministry of Magic. After noting some political and procedural differences between the Argentinian Council of Magic and other ministries, a group of judiciaries and senators decided it would be best to create a Ministry that would be able to more effectively communicate with the others around the world. Thus, the Brazilian Ministry of Magic was created and fully operational on April 13th, 1854. The creation of the BzMoM led to a very tense relationship with the ACoM and the two refused to cooperate with one another for over twenty years before they were forced to work together in an effort to keep the International Statute of Secrecy in effect and ensure the magical communities continued to survive during La Grande Seca, also known as the Great Drought. 

La Grande Seca - “The Great Drought”
The La Grande Seca occured from 1877 to 1878 and was the largest drought ever recorded in all of Brazilian history, which caused an enormous number of problems, both magical and non-magical, that led to the death of 400,000 people due to dehydration and malnutrition. I would like you all to take a moment and think about what problems this drought may have had for the wizarding community. How would it lead to a potential breach of the ISoS? Professor Fairclough points to a Slytherin in the back for an answer. Excellent! Dominic considered the natural ramifications such as the drought causing the multitude of magical creatures living in Brazil and other parts of South America to wander away from their homes and into No-Maj areas. Any other ideas? What about crops? Witches and wizards have a number of spells in their arsenal to assist crops in growing, but the plants require water just like every other living thing. You may think Aguamenti would be an obvious solution to the problem, but it wouldn’t have had a noticeable effect due to the sheer magical energy required to conjure enough water over the large geographical region. Ultimately, they had to come up with another more creative solution to the problem as you will see. The migration of the wizarding community to No-Maj cities was also an additional problem especially for families with children who had magical accidents. 

Perhaps the greatest show of partnership between the BzMoM and ACoM was the Danza de la Lluvia, or the “rain dance.” How does one cause it to rain over such a large area? Many charms experts considered it impossible, but with 5000 witches and wizards spread across the area and the minds of those living in El Dorado it was achieved. Accounts of how this occurred vary from those involved, though the account supported by charms experts and a number of magihistorians is as follows. The 5000 witches and wizards were split into groups of three and spread out at regular intervals within a 4000 mile (6437 km) radius to cover the drought area. One witch or wizard in each group was in charge of creating clouds, while another was in charge of rain, and the last controlled the wind to move the storm across their area with ease. The rain dance continued for nearly a week with witches and wizards camping at their locations and casting weather modification charms dozens of times to instigate torrential downfalls in an attempt to help the land. Some groups combined their efforts to create a rain tornado that flung the rain out due to the centrifugal force over a large area. These were much more popular where there were long stretches of uninhabited land. No matter how they did it, at the end of the week, the drought was far from over, but it had helped enough for the land to begin to heal. Interestingly enough, there were a series of very powerful thunderstorms that passed over the area for the next few weeks, something that charms experts attribute to the destabilisation of the natural order because of the overuse of weather modification charms. 

2014 Quidditch World Cup (427th World Cup)
Switching subjects, the Argentinian Council of Magic has fallen out of favor with many of the ministries around the world after the debacle of the 2014 Quidditch World Cup held in Argentina under the leadership of President Valentina Vazquez. The ceremony was set to take place in the Patagonian Desert as few No-Maj traverse that terrain, which allowed the Council to create what they considered would be a ceremony to remember. The Council decided the opening of the World Cup would be mascot-themed and planned accordingly by creating a magical lake in the desert to accommodate the Fijian Dukuwaga (a human/shark shape-shifter). However, they had incorrectly assumed that all the other participating countries would bring their usual mascots. Norway usually brought trolls, but the manager of the team opted for the Selma (a huge carnivorous water snake with a diet commonly consisting of fish and human flesh)  for this particular competition as he felt it represented his team a lot better than a troll ever could. I’m sure you can see where it went wrong now. When they were both released into the magical lake, the two creatures went for each other and this is when things got out of hand. The creatures’ handlers tried to intervene and stop the fight, but the Brazilian mascots, the Curupira stepped in as they believed they intended to harm the creatures and attacked the men and women. Chaos ensued in the rest of the stadium with the mascots from other countries becoming frightened and attacking on instinct. It was during this moment that the organisers also discovered that the Haitian team had really brought Inferi with them to act as their mascot.  The Quidditch World Cup did continue when the riot eventually came to an end, but the ACoM received many complaints regarding the danger and recklessness of their decision after 300 individuals were injured that day. This problematic event in their history has led the Brazilian Ministry of Magic to be more favored by other countries and thus, the ACoM is typically only involved in major international affairs or when something pertains to Argentina specifically. 

I’m afraid that is all the time we have today, but you do have a quiz and essay to complete before our next class together. Also make sure you gently place your obsidian glass balls into the basket on my desk on your way out. Do not pocket them as Ms. Haggleshire seems to be attempting. I have placed tracking enchantments on them and will come to retrieve it and give you a detention for your efforts. See you next week!



Original lesson written by Professor Samuel Becker
Additional portions written by Professor Mirabelle Fairclough
Image credits here, here, here, and here

We have made our way around the globe throughout your studies here at Hogwarts, but it is time to return to the home of the Olmec and Maya - the Americas! During your first year of N.E.W.T. studies, we will study North America and South America, looking into the history of the indigenous people of both continents, progression of magical civilization, magical impact in famous wars, the Magical Congress of the United States of America, and South American Ministries as well. Buckle up, it’s going to be a whirlwind of a year!
Course Prerequisites:

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