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The period between 1945 and 1964 in Brazilian history is known as the Second Republic. It was marked by political instability.

In 1945, President Getúlio Vargas was deposed by a bloodless military coup, but his influence in Brazilian politics remained until the end of the Second Republic. During this period, three parties dominated national politics. Two of them were pro-Vargas — the Brazilian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro, PTB) to the left and the Social Democratic Party (Partido social Democrático, PSD) in the center — and another anti-Vargas, the rightist National Democratic Union (União Democrática Nacional, UDN).


End of the Estado Novo

As World War II ended with Brazil participating on the Allied side, President Getúlio Vargas moved to liberalize his own fascist-influenced Estado Novo regime. Vargas decreed an amnesty to political prisoners, including the chief of the Communist Party, Luís Carlos Prestes.

He also introduced an electoral law and allowed political parties to campaign. Three political parties introduced themselves into the national political scene. The liberal and rightist parties of the opposition against Vargas created the National Democratic Union. The bureaucrats and supporters of the Estado Novo grouped in the Brazilian Social Democratic Party. Vargas also created the Brazilian Labour Party, to the left, to group the workers' and the laborers' unions. The Brazilian Communist Party, weakened during the dictatorship, was also legalised.

The Estado Novo ended when two of the most rightist supporters, the Minister of War Pedro Aurélio de Góis Monteiro and Eurico Gaspar Dutra, led a military coup on October 29, 1945. The president of the Supreme Federal Tribunal, José Linhares was inaugurated as president of Brazil. Linhares guaranteed free and regular elections.

Vargas was forced to take a temporary retirement. General Eurico Gaspar Dutra was elected president and served from 1946 to 1951. Vargas returned to politics in 1950 to win the presidential elections as the candidate of the Brazilian Labor Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro), taking office on January 31 1951.

Second Vargas presidency

The Vargas administration was hampered by an economic crisis, congressional opposition, and impatience among his supporters. He announced an ambitious industrialization plan and pursued a policy of nationalization of the country's natural resources. To reduce foreign dependency, he founded the Petrobras Brazilian state oil enterprise.

By 1954, Vargas faced opposition from the National Democratic Union and the military. The murder of Major Rubens Vaz, an associate of opposition newspaper editor Carlos Lacerda, by some of the president's bodyguards, known as the crime of "Rua Tonelero", led to a reaction against Vargas. Army generals demanded his resignation. After failing to negotiate a temporary leave of absence, the isolated Vargas shot himself on August 24 1954.

Collapse of Brazilian populism


Changing economic structures

Vargas' ever-shifting populist dictatorship helped to rein in the agrarian oligarchs, paving the way for the democratization of the 1950s and 1960s which was ended by the right-wing 1964 military coup. But the state still maintained a loose variation of Getúlio Vargas' populism and economic nationalism. Between 1930 and 1964, as Brazilian populism itself guided changes in the structure of Brazil's economy (Vargas' policies indisputably promoted industrial growth), Vargas and his successors were forced to shift the makeup of particular kinds of class alliances reconciled by the state.

After Vargas' suicide in 1954, awaiting a seemingly inevitable military coup, the support base for Brazilian populism began to deteriorate. Vargas' first ouster from 1945-1951 and his suicide demonstrated that Brazilian populism had been deteriorating for some time. Brazilian populism lingered for another decade but in new forms. If corporatism was the hallmark of the 1930s and 1940s, nationalism, and developmentalism characterized the 1950s and early 1960s. Each of these contributed to the crisis that gripped Brazil and resulted in the authoritarian regime after 1964.

In 1963, Charles de Gaulle is said to have remarked to Brazil's ambassador to France that "Brazil is not a serious country!"[1]

Kubitschek government

Populism and economic nationalism were casualties of Juscelino Kubitschek's presidency (1956-1961) more than anything else. Campaigning on a platform of "fifty years of progress in five", Kubitschek sought to achieve this progress with the aid of foreign investment, which in turn would be given generous incentives, such as profit remittances, low taxes, privileges for the importation of machinery, and donations of land. This influx of capital rapidly conquered domestic industry, unable to compete with the greater efficiency and expertise of foreign capital. Domestic manufacturers, once the core base of support for economic nationalism, were idly contented to become managers or partners of the multinationals. The urban bourgeoisie — the original base of Vargas' coalition — had little use for Brazilian populism any more, having outgrown state planning and having lost its autonomy. In a sense, Brazilian populism was a victim of its own success, fostering a middle class that would soon find state control threatening rather than protective.

The most notable manifestation of the nationalistic aspirations of the Kubitschek's was the construction of Brasília, Brazil's ultra-modern capital.

Thus, as the historical context shifted, so did the ideology of Brazilian populism. Between 1934 and 1945, Brazilian populism was a surprisingly reactionary phenomenon, exhibiting remarkable parallels to European fascism. In contrast, under the presidency of João Goulart (1961-64) — a protégé of Getúlio Vargas and another gaúcho from Rio Grande do Sul, the closeness of the government to the historically disenfranchised working class and peasantry and even to the Communist Party led by Luís Carlos Prestes was equally remarkable. Goulart appeared to have been co-opting the Communist movement in a manner reminiscent of Vargas' co-optation of the Integralists shortly — and not coincidentally — before his ouster by reactionary forces. Eventually, the 1964 junta and the ensuing military dictatorship proved that the establishment forces that ushered Goulart's mentor into power in the first place, and the bourgeoisie that Vargas helped rear, found the left-leaning turn of Brazilian populism intolerable.

See also


  1. ^ Omestad, Thomas (September 29, 2008). Brazil Finally Find Its Groove. US News and World Report.  


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