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Getúilo Vargas in Brazil

 1930-1954

 

Getúlio Dornelles Vargas rose to become dictator in Brazil during the 1930's, and remained a figure in Brazilian politics until his death in 1954.  His ways were not free of corruption, but he was “motivated by love of power and what he saw as Brazil's national interests.” [1]

After being involved in politics for some time, Vargas became governor of Rio Grande do Sul in 1928.  He then ran for president of Brazil in the March 1930 elections.  He lost the election, but chose to start a revolution to get into office.  The military was forced to hand power over to him.  Thus, on November 3, 1930, Vargas was given almost unlimited control over Brazil.

Upon becoming president of Brazil, Vargas “eliminated constitutional checks on the executive power, deprived the once-dominant state parties of any legitimate public function, and gained control over political activities at all levels in the nation.” [2]  State power was diminished, while central government power grew.  Vargas had made himself a dictator over Brazil.

The revolutionist desired political and social reform, and many Brazilians thought that a dictator would help make sure those goals were met.  Some conservatives were pushed too far, though, with new taxes and exchange controls, and another revolution began in 1932.   Vargas's popularity remained in tact, however, and he was elected president by a constituent assembly on July 17, 1934, for a four year term.

“Vargas's rule had been broadly speaking constitutional until he proclaimed the Estado Nôvo (New State) at the end of 1937 (Kadt;47).”  The Estado Nôvo was much like European fascist dictatorships.  It “imposed censorship and relied on a powerful secret police apparatus.” [3] So, for seven years, Vargas controlled Brazil with no congress, parties, or elections.

While President of Brazil, Vargas was concerned “with the urban middle class, with industrialists, white-collar workers, the military, and the growing working class.” [4] Large industrial projects were started, including electric and steel manufacturing.  Jobs were created for thousands of people in Brazil, but in return, they became dependant upon the government.  So, workers were given “rights, social security and a trade union system directed by the ministry of labor.” [5]  Vargas also made the decision to enter World War II in close relationship with the United States as an Allied Power.  In doing so, however, Vargas allowed Brazilians to discover that they too were under a dictatorship, much like the dictatorship which they were fighting against.  Soon the people of Brazil were calling for a democracy.  Vargas offered to make several changes, but it was too late.  The army grew anxious and decided to depose Vargas on October 29, 1945. 

In 1950 Vargas returned to politics and was elected to a five year presidential term starting in 1951.  The democratic government did not suit him, and in 1954 the public began to connect his regime with crimes and corruptions.  The army took away their support, and asked him to resign.  Rather than doing so, Vargas chose to commit suicide.  He claimed his death as “a sacrifice on behalf of Brazilian workers.” [6]


Notes:

 [1], [2] Poppino, Rollie E., “Vargas, Getúlio Dornelles,” Volume 5 Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture (New York: C. Scribners Sons; London: Simon & Shauster: Prentic Hall International, c.1996) pp. 363

[3] Bethell, Leslie, ed., Volume 6, Part 2 The Cambridge History of Latin America (Cambridge, [England]; New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 1984) pp. 42

[4] Kadt, Emanuel De, “Brazil,” Latin America and the Caribbean: A Handbook, Véliz, Claudio, ed.  (New York, [N.Y.]: Praeger, 1968) pp.47

[5] Kadt, Emanuel De, “Brazil,” Latin America and the Caribbean: A Handbook, Véliz, Claudio, ed.  (New York, [N.Y.]: Praeger, 1968) pp.48

[6] Poppino, Rollie E., “Vargas, Getulio Dornelles,” Volume 5 Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, Tenanbam, Barbara, ed. (New York: C. Scribners Sons; London: Simon & Shauster: Prentice Hall International, c.1996) pp. 364


Bibliography:

Bethell, Leslie (editor), Volume 6, Part 2 The Cambridge History of Latin America (Cambridge, [England]; New York, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 1984)

Kadt, Emanuel De, “Brazil,” Latin America and the Caribbean: A Handbook, Véliz, Claudio, ed. (New York, [N.Y.]: Praeger, 1968)

Poppino, Rollie E., “Varga, Getúlio Dornelles,” Volume 5 Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, Tenanbam, Barbara, ed. (New York: C. Scribners Sons; London: Simon & Shauster: Prentic Hall International, c.1996)


Researched and Written by:
Kayla Steinke
HIST 2260: The Modern World
9/7/03

Copyright 2003 by ThenAgain.  All rights reserved.