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|'The Adventures of Tintin' location|
Approximate location of San Theodoros
|Type||Banana republic (1942-1976, 1976-) |
Military dictatorship (1976)
|Ethnic group(s)||Spanish, Spanish mestizo, Bibaro, Arumbajo (or Arumbaya)|
|Notable locations||Los Dopicos/Las Dopicos (formerly Tapiocopolis, c. 1946 and nicknamed Alcazaropolis, c. 1976) (capital)|
|Other name(s)||Republic of San Theodoros|
|Language(s)||Spanish; possibly Creole|
San Theodoros is a fictional country in The Adventures of Tintin, the comics series by Belgian cartoonist Hergé. It is a banana republic under the yoke of military government located in Latin America. San Theodoros is depicted in The Broken Ear and Tintin and the Picaros, and is referred to in The Seven Crystal Balls and The Red Sea Sharks.
The Spanish invaders founded the city of "Our Lady of Las Dopicos" in 1539, which was actually near Tenuzco, the capital of the Pazteca empire. In the series, the capital had two spelling variations: Los Dopicos and Las Dopicos. (The former spelling is more likely to be the correct one; the latter would require dopico being a feminine noun.)
San Theodoros apparently became independent around the early 1830s as a result of the unstated actions of General José Olivaro, possibly similar to those of Simón Bolívar or José de San Martín. Endless rebellions after Olivaro in the 1840s until 1930s made San Theodoros have the highest number of presidents in history.
During The Broken Ear, San Theodoros and its hostile neighbor Nuevo Rico go to war over the area of Gran Chapo (grand chapeau, "Big Hat") in 1937—an allusion to the Chaco War fought by Bolivia and Paraguay over Gran Chaco from 1932–1935. It was thought that the area was custodian of large oil reserves, so a war sparked in the area. The Chapo War, whose start was accidentally precipitated by Colonel Tintin, was short, lasting only a few weeks at most, resulting in a stalemate. It is eventually revealed that there was no oil in the area after all (again, as with the real Chaco War).
Military coups and counter-coups of General Alcazar and General Tapioca have followed each other with regularity—and soldiers switch sides every time. In fact, revolution seems like a tradition in San Theodoros, as evidenced in Tintin and the Picaros, where it is said that mass executions after a revolution by firing squads is a tradition. A San Theodoran firing squad consists of six soldiers.
In The Red Sea Sharks, General Alcazar is seen in exile, having been deposed again by his rival. Alcazar is now negotiating for arms sales, securing twelve de Havilland Mosquitoes from Dawson, the former Chief of the Shanghai International Settlement. By the end of the book, Alcazar is mentioned to have regained power, presumably with the help of these warplanes.
The latest information about the country is from 1976 when General Alcazar, deposed again at some point in the past twenty years, now supported by the International Banana Company, ousted General Tapioca during a carnival in an unusually bloodless coup. His guerrillas, collectively known as the Picaros, wore carnival outfits during the operation. Tintin and his associates had their minor part in the proceedings, although Tintin concocted the plan, and insisted that there be no bloodshed. After the coup General Alcazar renamed the capital from Tapiocapolis to Alcazaropolis after himself.
Determining the location of the country is difficult, given the conflicting references in the books. The capital, Los Dopicos, is shown in The Broken Ear as having a seaport, whereas in Tintin and the Picaros, it appears to be inland. It is possible that the capital's situation is similar to that of San Salvador, Caracas, or Sao Paulo, where the inland downtown area and coastal suburbs are separated by a small mountain or ridge. In the TV series, at the beginning of The Broken Ear when the museum is closed and the janitor is dusting the exhibits and whistling, a map in the museum shows that San Theodoros and Nuevo Rico are somewhere near Guyana, bordering Venezuela and Brazil. In Tintin and the Picaros, the Paris Flash report clearly claims that the country is in fact in South America, since Bianca Castafiore reportedly "continued her brilliant progress through South America", after successfully visiting Ecuador, Colombia and Venezuela, and is to visit San Theodoros. In the same book, Captain Haddock, attempting to call General Tapioca, says "Hello, International? Give me South America... Tapiocapolis... General Tapioca!". The Bibaro indigenous tribe seems to be inspired by the Jivaros of Ecuador, another pointer to South America.
The country has a few magnificent Paztec pyramids in Trenxcoatl, including one called Hotuatabotl featured in Tintin and the Picaros. (Paztec is a pun merging Aztec with pastèque, watermelon. The names of the pyramids, puns on "trench coat" and "hot water bottle" respectively, are meant to look like Nahuatl, e.g. the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl.) In this respect, San Theodoros more resembles parts of Central America, in particular Guatemala and southern Mexico. In the jungle areas of the country live the Indian tribes of Bibaro (pun of Latin bibere, "to drink", and possibly a reference to the Jivaros of Ecuador with whom they share the habit of creating shrunken heads) and Arumbajo (or Arumbaya).
In the 1930s, the country's economy was dominated by foreign corporations, such as General American Oil (based on Standard Oil), in competition with British South-American Petrol (based on Royal Dutch Shell). Their interference, as well as that of Korrupt Arms, was so influential with General Alcazar that it led to the Gran Chapo War. Despite this, the presence of large oil reserves in the country was later debunked.
By the 1970s, the nation had become far more self-sufficient in economic matters, with local businesses including a central bank, the Banco de la Nación, a national airline, SANTAERO, and even a state lottery is called Loteria Naciónal. Despite this growth, the population would remain impoverished, even after Alcazar's rise to power with the Picaros' coup in 1976.
People and culture
Most of the population seems to be humble and poor, as depicted in Tintin and the Picaros. The national drink is aguardiente, as said in The Broken Ear. They are festive people, having their own carnival celebrated at the capital, Los Dopicos, from February 22–24 every year. The most visible honor bestowed in San Theodoros, as shown in Tintin and the Picaros, is the Order of San Fernando.
The Paztecas are people who came together and formed Pazteca Empire. They were highly developed with respect to their neighbors. They were great architects and astronomers. They built numerous temples and palaces. They were on to agriculture, in which successful applied methods of cultivation, trade and, through its excellent roads. In addition, a heavy toll charged to Bíbaros and Arumbayas in exchange for peace.
The Bíbaros and Arumbayas are South American tribes that were long living with neighbor Pazteca Empire. They survived by hunting and foraging. They lived in simple huts and were under the leadership of a chief.
With the Arumbayas lives the English explorer Ridgewell, who tries to teach them golf. In the English books, they speak Cockney English, but it is written in such a way that it looks meaningless upon a casual glance. (One example: "Cohrluv ahduk! Ai tolja tahitta ferlip inbaul intada oh'l! Andatdohn meenis ferlip ineer oh'l!" instead of "Cor love a duck! I told you to hit the flippin' ball into the hole! And I don't mean his flippin' earhole!") In the original French, the Arumbaya language seems to be another incarnation of Hergé's favourite Brussels dialect (Marols). If this speech is meant to be real rather than a representation of an American Indian language, it might suggest that San Theodoros borders Guyana (or Suriname, in the French edition), explaining the Indians' ability to speak English (or Dutch), albeit heavily accented.
An interesting detail is the ridiculous proliferation of colonels; in The Broken Ear story, the army of San Theodoros initially had 3487 colonels but only 49 corporals during Alcazar's regime. The entire number of troops deployed by the armed forces possibly stands at approximately 44,900 men during Alcazar's first term and should have been larger during Tapioca's dictatorship. San Theodoros also appears to suffer from the lack of equipment among its troops, as they can be seen wearing a variety of at least eight ammunition pouches and tunics, of varying type and colour. This lasted only during every civil war. In the lead-up to the Gran Chapo War in the 1930s, the army appears to have armoured vehicles at its disposal, along with MG08 heavy machine guns, Hotchkiss M1914 machine guns, Vickers machine guns, Mannlicher-type rifles, and artillery such as the Korrupt Arms 75 TRGP, 72 of which Alcazar bought in preparation for the Chapo War.
San Theodoros appears to have a navy and air force, but little is seen of them; however, it is mentioned in The Red Sea Sharks that General Alcazar used black market de Havilland DH.98 Mosquitoes to overthrow General Tapioca in 1956. By the 1970s, the army appears to be armed with Beretta AR70/90 rifles and wears German style stahlhelms, as well as utilizing Mil Mi-1 helicopters. At one time under General Tapioca, San Theodoros enjoys close military cooperation with fascist Borduria, another fictional country in the Tintin universe, which would explain the style of its military uniform and its munitions. Tapioca's symbol can be compared to the moustache of the Bordurian dictator Marshal Kûrvi-Tasch. After General Alcazar returns to power, some military units are depicted clad in guerrilla-style uniforms.
In The Broken Ear, both San Theodoros and its warring neighbour Nuevo Rico buy arms from the same arms dealer, Basil Bazarov of "Korrupt Arms GmbH," an analogue to Krupp AG (in French, "Bazaroff", of "Vicking Arms Co. Ltd", based on Vickers-Armstrong) a character based on Basil Zaharoff.
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., p. 30, panels 3, 6, 7. ISBN 978 1 4052 4068 0
(in Spanish) Al General / Olivaro / Libertador / de / San Teodoro / 1805–1899
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., reprinted 2011, p. 30, panels 3, 6, 7. ISBN 978 2 203 00105 3
(in French) A General / Olivaro / Liberteur / de / San Theodoros / 1805–1899
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., pp. 40ff
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., pp. 40ff
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., pp. 42, 45, 46, 53, 56
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., pp. 42 (Cette fois, c'est la guerre), 45 (Et le soir), 46 (Le lendemain ... Plusieurs jours ont passé ... Le lendemain matin), 53 (Quelques jours après), 56 (Et quelques jours après ... Huit jours plus tard)
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., p. 56
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., p. 56 (La mission ... n'avait pas trouvé trace de pétrole)
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., pp. 20–21
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., pp. 20–21
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., p. 52
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., p. 52
- The corresponding golf passage in the French edition reads: "Wé houn goun! stoum érikos! Kemahal onerdecos s'ch proporos rabarokh!"
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., p. 22
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., p. 22
- The Broken Ear 2008 ed., p. 34 ("six dozen")
- L'oreille cassée 1984 ed., p. 34 (six douzaines)