The first signs of Prudentópolis, after miles of pine and Araucaria forests and wheat fields under the blue and cloudless sky, are the Byzantine domes of its churches. Then, after crossing into the city proper, the names on the storefronts—Klosowksi, Zubreski, Bohaczuk, Techy—offer final confirmation: you have reached the heart of Ukrainian Brazil.
As the notion of what it means to be Ukrainian is tested on the battlefields of Eastern Ukraine, there is little doubt in Prudentópolis. These are Ukrainian patriots: originally from the province of Galicia in what is now western Ukraine, they believe, as western Ukrainians still do, in the sovereignty and unity of that country. To that end they have raised money—$1000 recently for hospitals and refugees, more coming soon—and tried to raise awareness of the Ukrainian cause. Although, in Prudentópolis, few need reminding. Even for Brazil, a country of immigration clusters, Prudentópolis is remarkably concentrated. Around seventy percent of the population of 50,000 inhabitants are the descendants of Ukrainian immigrants who arrived in the nineteenth century.