Nearly
blind and weakened from his ninety-one years of
living,CândidoMarianodaSilvaRondonspentmuchof
his remaining life force dictating letters to national and inter-
national leaders. From his apartment overlooking the famed
CopacabanaBeachinRiodeJaneiro,Rondonsentlettersofall
sortstoBrazilianpoliticiansandforeigndiplomatsin1956.He
welcomedEllisBriggs,thenewlyappointedambassadorfrom
the United States, to his post. He congratulated the Norwe-
gian ambassador to Brazil on the birthday of Norway’s mon-
arch. He contacted the Colombian ambassador on that coun-
try’s independence day.
But the aged and increasingly infirm Cândido Mariano da
Silva Rondon engaged at the same time in correspondence of
a different sort. In July 1956 he received a letter from Antonio
Ferreira Silva, postmarked from the faraway town of Aqui-
dauana in the far-western state of Mato Grosso. Silva, accord-
ing to his own note, had served in 1909 as the first telegraph
operator at the Utiariti station in northwest Mato Grosso. In-
credibly, nearly fifty years later, Silva still worked for the Bra-
zilian Telegraph Service. He was writing Rondon to seek sup-
portforhisrequestforatransfertothecityofBeloHorizonte,
so that he might end his career and spend his final days on
earth near his
family.1
Utiariti. The name likely rolled off Rondon’s lips with a
wistfulsigh.Sittinginhisstudy,withthewindowsopen,Ron-
don no doubt heard the familiar rhythms of waves washing
across Copacabana Beach. But at that moment his thoughts
were elsewhere and instead of waves, Rondon easily could
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