- History of Brazil (1930–1945)
Depression, coffee oligarchs, and the Revolution of 1930
The Great Depression
The "tenente" rebellion did not mark the revolutionary breakthrough of Brazil's bourgeois social reformers. But the ruling "paulista" coffee oligarchy could not withstand the near-breakdown of world
capitalismin 1929. Brazil's vulnerability to the Great Depressionhad its roots in the economy's heavy dependence on foreign markets and loans. Despite limited industrial development in São Paulo, the exportof coffeeand other primary products was still the mainstay of the economy.
Days after the U.S. stock market crash on
October 29, 1929("See" Black Tuesday), coffee quotations immediately fell 30 percent. The subsequent decline was even sharper. Between 1929 and 1931, coffee prices fell from 22.5 to 8 cents a pound amid great stockpiling. As world trade contracted, the coffee exporters suffered a vast drop in foreign exchange earnings. The Great Depressionpossibly had a more dramatic effect on Brazil than on the United States.
The collapse of Brazil's
valorization(price support) program, a safety net in times of economic crisis, was strongly intertwined with the collapse of the central government, whose base of support resided in the landed oligarchy. The coffee planters had grown dangerously dependent on government valorization. For example, in the aftermath of the recession following World War I, the government was not short of the cash needed to bail out coffee industry. But between 1929–30, world demand for Brazil's primary products had fallen far too drastically to maintain government revenues. By the end of 1930, Brazil's goldreserves had been depleted, pushing the exchange ratedown to a new low. The program for warehoused coffee collapsed altogether. Washington Luís Pereira de Sousa's government was stuck in a deepening balance-of-payments crisis, and the coffee growers were struck with an unsellable harvest. Since power ultimately rested on patronage, wide-scale defections in the delicate balance of regional interests left the regime of the Washington Luís quite vulnerable.
Government policies designed to favor foreign interests exasperated the crisis as well, leaving the regime alienated from just about every segment of society. Following the
Wall Streetpanic, the government attempted to please foreign creditors by maintaining convertibility according to the moneyprinciples preached by the foreign bankers and economists who set the terms for Brazil's relations with the world economy, despite lacking any support from a single major sector in Brazilian society.
capital flight, Washington Luís clung to a hard-money policy, guaranteeing the convertibility of the Brazilian currency into goldor British sterling. Once the gold and sterling reserves were exhausted amid the collapse of the valorization program, the government was finally forced to suspend convertibility of the currency. Foreign credit had now evaporated.
The Revolution of 1930
Aside from the depression and the emergence of the Brazilian bourgeoisie, Brazil's historic dynamic of interregional politics was a significant factor encouraging the alliance that
Getúlio Vargasforged between the new urban sectors and the landowners hostile to the government in states other than São Paulo during the Revolution of 1930.
Along with the urban bourgeois groups, Northeastern sugar barons were left with a legacy of longstanding grievances against the "paulista" coffee oligarchs of the South. Northeastern landowners bitterly opposed Washington Luís' 1930 discontinuance of the drought projects of his predecessor. These tensions, however, can be traced back far earlier. The decay of established sugar oligarchies of the Northeast began dramatically with the severe drought of 1877. The rapid growth of coffee-producing São Paulo state was the flip side of the same coin. After the abolition of
slaveryin the 1880s, Brazil saw a mass exodus of emancipated slaves and other peasants from the Northeast to the Southeast, thus ensuring a steady supply of cheap labor for the coffee planters.
Under the Old Republic, the politics of "
café com leite" rested on the domination of the republic's politics by the Southeastern states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, which were Brazil's largest states in terms of population and richest. The first presidents of the republic were from São Paulo and thereafter succeeded by an alternation between the outgoing governors of the two leading states in the presidency.
Given the grievances with ruling regime in the Northeast and Rio Grande do Sul, Liberal Alliance opposition leader
Getúlio Vargaschose as his vice-presidential candidate in 1930 João Pessoaof the Northeast state of Paraíba. With the understanding that the dominance of the landowners in the rural areas was to be absolute under any Liberal Alliance government, the Northeastern oligarchies were thus integrated into the Vargas alliance in a subordinate status via a new political party, the Social Democratic Party (PSD).
However, behind the façade of Vargas' populism lies the intricate nature of his coalition—ever-changing from this point onward. Consequently, these locally dominant regional groups—effectively the gaúchos of
Rio Grande do Suland the sugar barons of the Northeast—themselves ushered the new urban groups into the forefront of Brazilian political life in a revolution from above, tilting the balance of the central government in favor of the Liberal Alliance.
The rise of Getúlio Vargas
A populist governor of
Rio Grande do Sul- Brazil's southernmost state - Vargas was a gaúcho ( cattlerancher) with a doctorate in law from the most politically influential of Brazil's peripheral states and the 1930 presidential candidate of the Liberal Alliance.
Vargas was a member of the gaucho-landed oligarchy and had risen through the system of patronage and clientelism, but he had a fresh vision of how Brazilian politics could be shaped to support national development. He hailed from a region with a positivist and populist tradition, and was an economic nationalist who favored industrial development and liberal reforms.
Moreover, Vargas understood that with the breakdown of direct relations between workers and owners in the expanding factories of Brazil, workers could become the basis for a new form of political power—
populism. Using such insights, he gradually established such mastery over the Brazilian political world that he stayed in power for 15 years. As the stranglehold of the agricultural elites eased, new urban industrial leaders acquired more influence nationally, and the middle classbegan to show some strength.
Vargas built up well-established political networks, and was attuned to the interests of the rising urban classes. In his early years, Vargas even relied on the support of the "tenentes" of the 1922 rebellion.
The era of Brazilian populism
As a candidate in 1930, Vargas had utilized populist rhetoric to promote middle class concerns, thus opposing the primacy—but not the
legitimacy—of the paulista coffee oligarchy and the landed elites, who had little interest in protecting and promoting industry.
The 1930 Revolution ushered in a coalition favoring protection of Brazilian manufacturers, backed by the bourgeoisie and landed interests. Between 1930-1934, Vargas followed a path of social reformism to attempt to reconcile these radically diverging interests. Reflecting the influence of the "tenentes", he even advocated a program of social welfare and reform with striking parallel to
New Dealin the United States, prompting U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt to proudly refer to him as "one of two people who invented the New Deal".
Vargas sought to bring Brazil out of the
Great Depressionthrough statist-interventionist policies.Vargas satisfied the demands of the rapidly growing urban bourgeois groups, voiced by the new (to Brazil) mass-ideologies of populism and nationalism. Like Franklin Roosevelt, his first steps focused on economic stimulus, a program on which all factions could agree.
Favoring a state interventionist policy utilizing tax breaks, lowered duties, and import quotas to expand the domestic industrial base, the populist gaúcho linked his pro-middle class policies to
nationalism, advocating heavy tariffs to "perfect our manufacturers to the point where it will become unpatriotic to feed or clothe ourselves with imported goods!" In his early years, Vargas also relied on the support of the "tenentes". His policies can best be described collectively as approximating those of fascist Italy under Mussolini, with an increased reliance on populism.
Vargas sought to mediate disputes between labor and capital. For instance, the provisional president quelled a paulista female worker's strike by co-opting much of its platform and requiring their "factory commissions" to use government mediation in the future.
Opposition arose among the powerful paulista coffee oligarchs to these unprecedented mass interventionist policies, as well as to the increased centralization of the government, its increasing populist and fascist stance, its protectionist/mercantilist policies (protecting politically favored prodecers at the expense of consumers) and the increasing dictatorial stance of Vargas himself . His tenuous collation also lacked a coherent program, being committed to a broad vision of "modernization", but little else more definitive. Having to balance such conflicting ideological constituencies, regionalism, and economic interests in such a vast, diverse, and socio-economically varied nation would, thus, not only explain the sole constancy that marked Vargas' long career—abrupt shifts in alliances and ideologies—but also his eventual dictatorship, modeled surprisingly along the lines of European fascism, considering the liberal roots of his regime. By 1934, however, many shifts were still awaiting Brazil.
Vargas, the sugar barons, and the northeastern "cangaço"
Vargas's appeasement of the landed wing of his coalition soon revealed the reactionary nature of his government, especially after 1934. To placate friendly agrarian oligarchs, the modernizing state not only left the impoverished domains of the rural oligarchs untouched, the government even helped the sugar barons cement their control over rural Brazil.
Likely to the detriment of that region's long-term economic development, Vargas' static conservatism on matters of the countryside arguably exacerbated the disparities between the impoverished, semi-feudal Northeast and the dynamic, urbanized Southeast to this day. In return for the support of the
sugarbarons, the state crushed a wave of peasant revolts in the Northeast known as the " cangaço", marking the reversal of the drastic but gradual decline of the Northeastern " latifundios" from the 1870s to the 1930 revolution. Northeastern "latifundios" had been collapsing from within amid inexorable decline and peasantrevolts. In the more prosperous past during the reign of Dom Pedro II (1831-1889), the peasantry under this system remained quite subordinate to the "fazendeiros". Each planter retained his own private militia responsible for the maintenance of law and order within his domain, and these private militias were often responsible for kin feuds that arose between various dynastic groups. Consequently, the Northeastern "fazendeiros" had grown accustomed to their iron grip on the rural countryside.
But the peasantry was not that servile—to the surprise of many accustomed to overlooking Brazil's peripheral regions. Banditry was a common form of peasant protest. Other forms included messianism, anarchic uprisings, and tax evasion, each of which was common practice before 1930. With the Northeastern oligarchies now incorporated into the ruling coalition, the government focused on restructuring
agriculture. In reality, the increasingly reactionary state intervened, suppressed the "cangacieros", and restored order to the Northeast.
At the expense of the indigent peasantry—85 percent of the workforce—not only did Vargas renege on his promises of land reforms, he denied agricultural workers in general the working class' gains in labor regulations, a strategy reminiscent of contemporary leaders
Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, and António de Oliveira Salazar.
Appeasement of landed interests, traditionally the country's dominant forces, thus required a realignment of his coalition, forcing him to turn against its left-wing. After mid-1932 the influence of the "tenente" group over Vargas rapidly waned, although individual "tenentes" of moderate tendency continued to hold important positions in the regime. With the ouster of the center-left "tenentes" from his coalition, his rightward shift would become increasingly pronounced by 1934.
By 1934, Vargas developed in response what Thomas E. Skidmore and Peter H. Smith called "a legal hybrid" between the regimes of Mussolini's Italy and Salazar's Portuguese "Estado Novo". Vargas copied repressive fascist tactics, and conveyed their same rejection of liberal capitalism, but attained power baring few indications of his future quasi-fascist polices.
Changing conditions forced Vargas to eventually abandon the arrangements of the "provisional government" (1930-34), that were characterized by a path of social reformism that appeared to favor the generally left wing of his revolutionary coalition, the "tenentes".
Opposition from the right, however, marked Vargas' earliest moves away from the social reformism of his early years. A conservative insurgency in 1932 was the key turning point. After the July 1932
Constitutionalist Revolution—a veiled attempt by the paulista coffee oligarchs to retake the central government—Vargas tried to recover support of the landed elites, including the coffee growers, in order to establish a new alliance of power. The revolt reacted to Vargas' appointment of João Alberto, a center-left "tenente" as "interventor" (provisional governor) in place of the elected governor of São Paulo. Elite paulistas loathed Alberto, resenting his centralization efforts and alarmed by the his economic reforms, such as a mere 5 percent wage increase and some minor distribution of some land to participants in the revolution . Amid threats of revolt, Vargas replaced João Albertowith a civilian from São Paulo, appointed a conservative paulista banker as his minister of finance, and announced a date for the holding of a constituent assembly . The coffee oligarchs were only emboldened, launching the counterrevolutionary revolt in July 1932, which collapsed after some minor, lackadaisical combat.
Regardless of the attempted counterrevolution, Vargas was determined to maintain his alliance with the original "fazendeiro" wing of his coalition and to strengthen his ties with the São Paulo establishment. The result was further concessions, further alienating the left wings of his coalition. The essential compromise was reneging on the promises of
land reformmade during the campaign of 1930. Vargas also pardoned half the bank debts of the coffee planters, who still had a significant grip on the state's electoral machinery, alleviating the crisis stemming from the collapse of the valorization program. To mollify his old paulista adversaries after their failed revolt, he even ordered the Bank of Brazil to take over the war bondsissued by the rebel government.
Yet, Vargas was increasingly threatened by pro-Communist elements in labor critical of the rural "latifundios" by 1934, who sought an alliance with the countries peasant majority by backing land reform. Despite the populist rhetoric of the "father of the poor", the gaúcho Vargas was ushered into power by planter oligarchies of peripheral regions amid a revolution from above, and was thus in no position to truly meet substantive popular demands. By 1934, armed with a new constitution drafted with extensive influence from European fascist models, Vargas began reining in even moderate trade unions and turning against the "tenentes". His further concessions to the "latifundios" pushed him toward an alliance with the Integralists, Brazil's mobilized fascist movement. Following the end of the provisional presidency, the reactionary nature Vargas' regime between 1934 and 1945—characterized by the co-optation of Brazilian unions through state-run, sham syndicates, suppression of opposition (particularly) leftist opposition thus was strongly becoming evident.
As a result of this appeasement of the rural "fazendeiros", Vargas was increasingly threatened by pro-Communist elements in labor critical of the "latifundios" by 1934 who were actually serious in their demands for
land reform. Though eventually crushed by fascist-style force, it was quite astute for labor at the time to attempt to forge an alliance between Brazil's relatively small urban proletariat with the peasantry, who accounted for the vast majority of the population.
The suppression of the communist movement
Aside from these recent political disputes, long-term trends suggest an atmosphere in São Paulo conducive to ideological
extremism. The rapidly changing and industrializing Southeast, and the seething class conflict underlying this change, had been brewing an atmosphere conducive to the growth of European-style mass-movements; Brazil's Communist Party was established in 1922 and the postwar period witnessed the rise of the country's first waves of general strikes waged by viable trade unions. The Great Depression intensified their strength.
The same Great Depression that had ushered Vargas into power in a wave of disillusionment with the
laissez-faireorthodoxies of the time also rejuvenated the left and calls for social reforms. The Brazilian left has always been powerful, but rarely in power except for President João Goulartin the 1960s and now Lula da Silva. The left has benefited from the nation's socio-economic contradictions. Brazil is infamous for perhaps the world's most appalling disparity in social class correlated in terms of both race and region. With the challenges of the reactionary Paulista Revolt out of the way, and the looming mass-mobilization of a potential new enemy— the urban proletariat, Vargas grew more concerned with imposing a paternalistic tutelage over the working class, functioning to both control them and co-opt them. Vargas' elite backers in both urban and rural Brazil would begin to view labor, larger and better organized than directly after the First World War, as an ominous threat to established interests.
Vargas could unite with all sectors of the landed elites, however, to control the urban proletariat and the
peasantry. With the "cangaço" thoroughly repressed in the Northeast, all segments of the elite— the new bourgeoisie and the landed oligarchs— shifted their well-founded fears toward the trade unionism and socialist sentiments of the burgeoning urban proletariat. The urban proletariat, often composed of immigrants, was from the more European (in terms of population, culture, ideology, and level of industrial development) and more urbanized Southeast. In 1934, following the disintegration of Vargas' delicate alliance with labor, Brazil entered "one of the most agitated periods in its political history". According to Skidmore and Smith, Brazil's major cities began to resemble the Nazi-Communist battles in Berlin of 1932-33. By mid-1935 Brazilian politics had been drastically destabilized.
Vargas's attention focused on the rise of two nationally based and highly ideological European-style movements, both committed to European-style mass-mobilization: one pro-Communist and the other pro-fascist—one linked to
Moscowand the other to Romeand Berlin. The mass-movement intimidating Vargas was the "Aliança Nacional Libertadora" (ANL), a leftwing popular front launched in 1935 of socialists, communists, and other progressives led by the Communist Party and Luís Carlos Prestes, known as "cavalier of hope" of the "tenente" rebellion (though not a Marxist at the time). A revolutionary forerunner of Che Guevara, Prestes led the legendary but futile "Long March" through the rural Brazilian interior following his participation in the failed 1922 "tenente" rebellion against the coffee oligarchs. This experience, however, left Prestes, who only died in the 1990s, and some of his comrades skeptical of armed conflict for the rest of his life. Prestes' well-cultivated skepticism later helped precipitate the 1960s schism between hard-line militant Maoistsand orthodox Marxist-Leninistsin the Brazilian Communist Party, which endures to this day.
With center-left "tenentes" out of the coalition and the left crushed, Vargas turned to the only mobilized base of support on the right, elated by the atrocious, fascist-style crackdown against the ANL. As his coalition moved to the right after 1934, Vargas' ideological character and association with a global ideological orbit remained ambiguous.
Integralism, claiming a rapidly growing membership throughout Brazil by 1935, began filling this ideological void, especially among the approximately one million Brazilians of German descent. Integralismwas founded in early 1933, and led by Plínio Salgado- a minor literary figure, who adapted Fascist and Nazi symbolismand the Roman salute. It had all the visible elements of European fascism: a green-shirt- uniformed paramilitaryorganization, street demonstrations, and aggressive rhetoric directly financed in part by the Italian embassy. The Integralists borrowed their propaganda campaigns directly from Nazi materials, including the usual traditionalist excoriations of Marxism, liberalism, and Jews, and espousals of fanatical nationalism (out of context in the heterogeneous and tolerant nation) and "Christian virtues". Like the European fascists, they were essentially petit bourgeois. In particular, they drew support from military officers, especially in the navy.
Class conflict, corporatism, and economic development
The strong parallels between the political economy of Vargas and the European police states thus began to appear by 1934, when a new constitution was enacted with direct fascist influence. After 1934, fascist-style programs would serve two important aims: stimulating industrial growth (under the guise of nationalism) and suppressing the working class. Passed on July 16, the Vargas government claimed that the corporatist provisions of the constitution of 1934 would unite all classes in mutual interests—its stated purpose in Fascist Italy. Actually, this propaganda point had somewhat of a basis in reality. In practice, this meant decimating organized labor and co-opting the working class. Of course, the advance of industry and urbanization, enlarged and strengthened the ranks of urban laborers, presenting the need to draw them into some sort of alliance committed to the modernization of Brazil. Vargas, and later
Juan Perónin neighboring Argentinaemulated Mussolini's strategy of consolidating power by means of mediating class disputes and co-opting workers' demands under the banner of nationalism.
constitutionestablished a new Chamber of Deputies that placed government authority over the private economy, which established a system of state-guided capitalismaimed at industrialization and reducing foreign dependency. These provisions essentially designated corporate representatives according to class and profession, organizing industries into state syndicates, but generally maintained private ownership of Brazilian-owned businesses.
The 1934-37 constitution, and especially the "Estado Novo" afterwards, heightened efforts to centralize authority in
Rio de Janeiroand drastically limit provincial autonomy in the traditionally devolved, sprawling nation. This was its more progressive role, seeking to consolidate the 1930 revolution, displacing the institutional power of the paulista coffee oligarchs with a centralist policy that respected local agro-exporting interests, but created the necessary urban economic base for the new urban sectors. The modernizing legacy is firmly evident: state government was to be rationalized and regularized, freed from the grips of " coronelismo".
The constitution of 1934 thus established a more direct mechanism for the federal executive to control the economy, pursuing a policy of planning and direct investment for the creation of important industrial complexes. State and mixed public-private companies dominated heavy and infrastructure industries, and private Brazilian capital predominated in manufacturing. There was also a significant growth of direct
foreign investmentin the 1930s as foreign corporations sought to enlarge their share of the internal market and overcome tariff barriers and exchange problems by establishing branch plants in Brazil. The state thus emphasized the basic sectors of the economy, facing the difficult task of forging a viable capital base for future growth in the first place, including mining, oil, steel, electric power, and chemicals.
The "Estado Novo"
Like the European fascists, Vargas also used fears about Communism to justify personal dictatorship. The fascist "Estado Novo" dictatorship, modeled after Salazar's nominally neutral, quasi-fascist "Estado Novo" in Brazil's mother country, finally materialized in 1937. Vargas was supposed to step down from the presidency by January 1938 because his own 1934 constitution prohibited the president from succeeding himself. On
September 29, 1937, Gen. Eurico Dutrapresented "the Cohen Plan" (named after the Hungarian communist leader, Béla Kun) that established a detailed plan for a Communist revolution. The "Cohen Plan" was a mere forgery concocted by the Integralists, but Vargas exploited it to have Dutra publicly demand "a state of siege" in a chain of events redolent of the Reichstag fire, which Adolf Hitlerpresented as a Communist conspiracy to justify a dictatorship. On November 10, Vargas, ruling by decree, then made a broadcast in which he stated his plans to assume dictatorial powers under the second new constitution of his regime derived from European fascist models, thereby curtailing presidential elections (his ultimate objections) and dissolving congress. Vargas, like Hitler in the Weimar Republic and Mussolini in the postwar Kingdom of Italy, consolidated power in a gradual process within the established political system, not in a single coup d'état or revolution.
Although avowedly "totalitarian", the "Estado Novo" was comparatively benign next to those of the European fascists, especially Nazi Germany. Like the European fascists, Vargas abolished opposition political parties, imposed rigid censorship, established a centralized police force, and filled prisons with political dissidents, while evoking a sense of
nationalismthat transcended class and bound the masses to the state.
Although his 1938 ban of paramilitary groups also entailed the suspension of the Fascist Integralists, who threatened his personal power, his political and economic policies nevertheless bore extensive similarities to those of Mussolini. Vargas banned strikes and stripped workers of the right to organize independently of government-run unions. Vargas, like Mussolini, sought broad power by positioning the state as a mediator between the classes. For instance, he set wages and hours for industrial workers, while excluding agricultural workers from such protection, just as Mussolini appealed to the urban proletariat, but disregarded the peasantry. His industrialization policy through central planning under private ownership was another similarity that demonstrated corporatist rejection of
laissez-faireto impose a more orderly capitalism.
The "Estado Novo" and industrialization
Under the "Estado Novo", the state announced an ambitious Five-Year Plan whose goals included the expansion of heavy industry, the creation of new sources of
hydroelectric power, and the expansion of the railway network, again, to develop Brazil's capital base. Empirical data can confirm that Vargas was advancing the bourgeois revolution, at least to an extent. By 1940 Brazil's capacity for electricitygeneration reached one million kilowatts, of which 60 percent was located in the São Paulo area, primarily because of the construction of hydroelectricpower stations. Cementproduction increased from 87,000 tons in 1930 to 700,000 tons in 1940. Ironand steeloutput went from 90,000 tons in 1929 to 150,000 tons in 1939. The number of manufacturing enterprises more than doubled during the decade, reaching 50,000 by 1940. Factories in the São Paulo area employed 35 percent of the industrial labor force and generated 43 percent of the value of industrial production. Aside from the export of textiles, the manufacturing industries served the domestic market almost exclusively.
from 1920 to 1941, the numbers of plants increased from 13,336 to 44,100 plants, and the numbers of workers employed in those plants rose from about 300,000 to 944,000. In 1942 the government established the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce to exploit the rich
iron-oredeposits of Itabira; in 1944 it created a company for the production of materials needed by the chemical industry; and in 1946 the National Motor Company began the production of trucks. In the same year, Vargas saw the realization of one of his cherished dreams: The National Steel Company began production at the Volta Redonda plant between Rio de Janeiroand São Paulo. Aware of the need of modern industry for abundant sources of power, Vargas created the National PetroleumCompany in 1938 to press the search for oil. By 1940, Brazil's manufacturing output thus increased substantially, but coffeeproduction declined. As a result, to further placate the forces of the old order, the "Estado Novo" also invested considerably in the expansion of coffee production between 1934-37. Coffee was also the principal foreign exchange export earner.
The "Estado Novo" and urban planning
The "Estado Novo" had a powerful effect on Brazilian architecture, because it provided sufficient authority to implement
urban planningon a large scale in Brazil. Although sufficient wealth was not available to complete the plans, they had a powerful, lasting effect on the cities and their organization. One of the best-planned cities in the world, Curitiba, received its first planning during the "Estado Novo". Alfred Agache was a notable urban planner in this period.
World War II, Vargas and the liberalization of the "Estado Novo"
:"See main article: Brazilian Expeditionary Force in World War II"Despite the fascist nature of the "Estado Novo", Brazil eventually sided with the Allies in
World War II, and Vargas eventually liberalized his regime. Brazil, however, had appeared to be entering the Axis orbit—even before the 1938 declaration of the overtly fascist "Estado Novo". The resemblance between the "Estado Novo" and the European police stateshad earlier suggested to some interwar observers that the "Estado Novo" was simply a variant of the European fascist model. Between 1933 and 1938 Germany became the principal market for Brazilian cotton, and its second largest importer of Brazilian coffee and cacao. The German Bank for South America established three hundred branches in Vargas' Brazil. Eventually the consummate pragmatist sided with the antifascist Allies after a period of pitting both sides against each other, forcing them to compete to offer Brazil the most advantageous trade concessions. As late as May 1941, for example, Vargas sent a birthday telegram to Adolf Hitler, using it as opportunity to convey Brazilian ambiguity, playing both sides against each other. Vargas dispatched a telegramto Hitler saying, "best wishes for your personal happiness and the prosperity of the German nation". Such periodic overtures to the Axis Powers, and the rapid increase in civilian and military trade between Brazil and Nazi Germany, caused U.S. officials constantly to ask, "What is Vargas like and where does he stand?" Vargas' coalition was also torn between pro-Allied and pro-German wings. Brazilian generals, such as Pedro Goes Monteiroand Eurico Dutra, Vargas' close collaborators, admired the German military-industrial complex, and were eager to accept German arms deals. The pro-German faction of Vargas' regime was strongest in the military, while its elite were divided, most were sympathetic to the Allies because of Brazil's established economic ties with the United Statesand the United Kingdom. During 1942 the final decision became clear due the German U-Boats attacks against Brazilian merchant ships that killed hundreds from January to August, 1942. Vargas and the military delayed as long as possible; however, Brazil had declared war on Germany and Italy on August 22, 1942. In August 1943 the Brazilian Expeditionary Forcewas created. A portion of this force was dispatched to join the Allied forces in the Mediterranean theatre. This deployment occurred almost 2 years after the initial declaration of war and only then due to the pressure of public opinion. From an initial 100,000, a bit more than 25,000 men were sent to fight in the Italian Campaign. Most of these troops were a mix of volunteers and conscripts along with enlisted and officers from the reserve. All of them had no proper military training and equipment for war in Europe [Celso Castro; Vitor Izecksohn & Hendrik Kraay, "Nova História Militar Brasileira", Chapter 13] . Vargas and the military were forced to liberalize the regime because of complications arising from this situation. Siding with the antifascist Allies also created a paradox for the fascist-like regime. Therefore Vargas had to respond to the newly liberal sentiments of a middle class that was no longer fearful of instability and proletariat discontent by moving away from fascist repression—promising "a new postwar era of liberty" that included amnesty for political prisoners, presidential elections, and the legalization of opposition parties—including the then now moderated Communist Party.
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