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Brazil (Vargas)



Paulo Coelho, Brazil's greatest novelist, wrote of the history of his people, "They were seeking out the treasure of their destiny, without actually wanting to live out their destiny." Among former colonies, Brazil is unique in the Americas because, beyond gaining its independence through a relatively peaceful path, and even after dozens of failed separatist movements, it did not fragment into separate countries as did British and Spanish possessions. Brazil was a Portuguese colony from the time of the arrival of Pedro Álvares Cabral, who claimed it for his sovereign in 1500 AD, until the royal family in exile from their occupied homeland elevated it to the status of kingdom in 1815. Full independence was achieved in 1822 when the Empire of Brazil was created with a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary government. With the overthrow of Pedro II, the second and last emperor, in 1889 AD it became a republic. Although the republic would suffer through dictatorships and military juntas over the next century, democracy returned in the 1980s when the first elected civilian government assumed power after a negotiated transition. Under a succession of able leaders, Brazil achieved political and economic stability, became a vital and influential member of the international community, and has at last achieved "the treasure of [its] destiny."

Climate and Terrain[]

Brazil is the world's fifth largest country, encompassing half of South America's landmass; it is one of 17 nations considered to have a "mega-diverse ecology," home to manifold flora and fauna, habitats, natural resources and terrain. Brazil contains most of the Amazon River basin, the world's largest river system as well as the world's largest virgin rainforest. Thus, the country has a wide range of tropical and subtropical landscapes, including wetlands, savannahs, jungle-covered plateaus, and low mountains. Along Brazil's 7500 km (4600 mile) coastline lie a number of archipelagos. The main upland area of Brazil occupies most of the southern half of the country, rising to a mass of low mountain ranges such as the Mantiqueira and Espinhaço, whose tallest peaks reach about 1200 m (3900 ft) high. Lying on the equator, most of the nation has a tropical climate, divided into five subtypes: equatorial, tropical, highland tropical, temperate and subtropical. Temperatures across Brazil average 25 degrees C (77 degrees F). Vegetation ranges from rainforests in the north to tropical savannahs in the center to coniferous forests in the south. As might be expected with such varied terrain and climate, Brazil's biodiversity is one of the richest in the world, with jaguar, ocelot, tapir, anteater, sloth, armadillo, deer, piranha, caiman, parrot, monkey and thousands of other species sharing the land and waters.

Portuguese Colonization[]

The origins of the native inhabitants (called indios by the Portuguese) of Brazil are unknown; the earliest human fossils date back 10,000 years to the highlands of Minas Gerais. When Portuguese explorers arrived on the coast, some 2000 native tribes existed; semi-nomadic, they subsisted on hunting, fishing, migrant agricultural, tribal warfare and cannibalism. The land was claimed by Pedro Cabral in April 1500 when the fleet he was leading around the Cape of Good Hope was borne so far westward that he made landfall in South America. The Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 AD had divided the New World between Spain (west) and Portugal (east) along the longitude of 46 degrees. As the discovery fell well within the Portuguese zone, and spurred by reports of its riches, in 1532 the first Portuguese settlement was founded.

The discovery of brazilwood - a dense, orange-red hardwood highly prized in dye-making and in the making of musical instruments and furniture - incited the crown's interest; in 1534 AD King Dom Joao III encouraged private colonial ventures. In 1549 the king appointed a governor-general and Brazil officially became a Portuguese colony. In wars with the French, the Portuguese slowly expanded their holdings to the north and south, taking Rio de Janeiro in 1567 and Sao Luis in 1615. In 1680 AD they claimed the lands around the Rio de la Plata, which became their southernmost territory. In the meantime, British and Dutch strongholds in the Amazon were overrun; the native tribes were either assimilated, enslaved or exterminated.

By the end of the 17th Century, Brazil was the largest and most important of Portugal's scattered colonies. Besides brazilwood, sugar, dyes and spices were major exports. The Portuguese began their import of slaves from Africa to meet the growing international demand for these commodities; eventually Portugal would become one of the major slave-trading nations and slaves in Brazil would number in the hundreds of thousands. Concurrently, prospectors had sought in vain for gold in the jungles and hills of Brazil until extensive deposits were discovered in Minas Gerais. The subsequent gold rush brought such vast sums that the colonial capital was transferred from [1] south to Rio de Janeiro in 1763 AD in order to better administer the new wealth. The treaties of Madrid (1750), Pardo (1761) and Ildefonso (1777) recognized Brazil's borders, while colonial reforms insured that it remained a placid, prosperous and profitable colony for Portugal.


In March 1808 AD, the Portuguese royal family and ministers arrived in Rio de Janeiro to take refuge in Brazil as Napoleon's forces overran their homeland. The prince regent João, ruling in the stead of his mother Maria I, who was incapacitated due to mental illness, re-established his capital in Rio and ruled the empire from there. While in residence, he put in place all the ministries of a sovereign capital, as well as founding a royal library, a military academy, a royal mint, a printing office, and medical and law schools. In 1815, João declared Brazil a kingdom, co-equal with Portugal in the empire. Following the defeat of France, he preferred to remain in Brazil until called back to Portugal to deal with radical revolts. In April 1821, João appointed his son Pedro to the regency. Pedro's ministers, many Brazilian born, urged independence. The young regent issued a declaration of independence for Brazil in September 1822 and was crowned as Emperor Pedro I within three months. In 1825 the Portuguese government officially recognized Brazil's sovereignty, and within the year most of the European nations followed suit.


Pedro I and his ministers sought to ensure that Brazil did not suffer the discord and revolutions that were plaguing Brazil's South American neighbors. To that end, he was the primary architect of a new constitution, one quite liberal and advanced for its time. But Pedro was increasingly involved in affairs in Portugal, and in 1831 AD abdicated in favor of his five-year-old son so he could return to Europe to reclaim the Portuguese crown for his daughter. To settle the political unrest and discord the abrupt departure left, Pedro's son was officially declared of age at 14 and crowned Emperor Pedro II within the year. The new emperor's five-decade reign was enlightened and progressive, and Brazil enjoyed a "golden age" in every realm - politically, economically, industrially, socially, culturally. Under Pedro II, Brazil won three wars, expanded its international reputation, modernized, reformed its legal and monetary systems, boosted its agricultural diversity, and abolished slavery. But the latter had eroded support among the landed gentry; moreover, as he aged Pedro II increasingly lost touch with the new urban middle class and liberal student movements his ideals and policies had fostered. Although still respected and beloved by his people, in November 1889 a bloodless military coup deposed Pedro in favor of a republic. Ever a patriot, when he departed into exile in Europe, Pedro II expressed his "ardent wishes for the greatness and prosperity of Brazil."


Deodoro da Fonseca, who had led the coup, became the provisional president of an increasingly military-dominated government. Supported primarily by the military and the increasingly prosperous coffee planters, he established the republic, separated church and state, and promulgated a new constitution. However, under its provisions, he was declared unable to hold office; when he attempted to dissolve the new legislature and rule by decree, he was forced to resign in the face of public outcry. He was replaced by his vice-president, also a general, who spent his time fending off several military and monarchist revolts but took on increasingly dictatorial powers.

In 1894 AD, amid general peace, General Peixoto reluctantly surrendered the presidency to the first civilian to hold the post, Prudente de Morais. He had been governor of the coffee-rich state of São Paulo, and has been deemed the first of the "coffee presidents." These presidents, primarily wealthy politicians and landowners from São Paulo and Minas Gerais, helped reform the economy, modernize the nation's infrastructure, keep the peace, and guide the nation through troubled international times through a policy of near isolationism. However, in doing so they offered little real democracy because only the landowning minority was allowed to vote, fraudulent elections were common, and regional political bosses operated with virtual impunity so long as they supported the president in power.

Two developments finally ended the period of the "coffee presidents." First, coffee prices fell precipitously during the world-wide depression of the 1930s. Second, a movement composed of junior officers (the tenentes) grew in influence. Espousing populism, the tenentes championed not democracy but reform and progress; they fervently believed that only the military could propel the nation into the modern age. To do so, the young officers planned to oust civilian politicians, expand the reach of the federal government, modernize the military, and eradicate regionalism through a strong, centralized government.

The depression and the general unrest led to Getúlio Vargas, a defeated presidential candidate, to seize control with support of the tenentes. Vargas was supposed to assume power temporarily for the duration of the economic crisis; instead he closed the Congress, dismissed the constitution, and replaced the Brazilian states' governors with his supporters, mostly military officers. Following a failed Communist coup in 1935 and a failed Fascist one in 1938, Vargas' regime evolved into a full dictatorship, noted for its brutality and censorship of the press. Brazil joined the Allies in 1942 as an active participant, committing both significant ground in Italy and naval forces in the Atlantic. Despite being a dictatorship, Vargas insisted that in recognition of its service in World War II , Brazil be one of the founding members of the United Nations.

But the economic boom brought by the war and international pressure had made Vargas' position untenable; in 1945 AD he was ousted by another military coup. Democracy was "reinstated" by the same cabal that had suspended it 15 years before. Ironically, Vargas would be elected president in 1950, but committed suicide in 1954 at the Catete Palace in the midst of a political crisis. Several brief governments followed Vargas' death, marked by various levels of accomplishment as well as corruption. In 1964, yet another military coup toppled the civilian government; in 1968, the military junta became a full dictatorship with the powers vested in it by the Fifth Institutional Act. Although its methods were harsh, the junta was less brutal than those in other parts of the continent. Moreover, it promoted capitalism, modernization, and international accords. Thus, the junta was highly popular with the lower and middle classes even during the years of repression.

Modern Brazil[]

General Ernesto Geisel assumed the presidency in 1974, and immediately launched into a "slow, gradual and safe" policy of returning rule to a democratic government. Over several years he ended the torture of political prisoners, censorship of the press, and finally the junta itself when he repealed the Fifth Institutional Act. His successor continued the process, and in 1985 the first free elections made Jose Sarney president. With a stable government and thriving economy, Brazil has since taken a leading role in regional affairs, being a founding member of organizations such as the Latin Union, Organization of American States, Mercosul, and Union of South American Nations. At the beginning of a new millennium, Brazil is poised to assume an equally influential role on the world stage.

Brazilian Trivia[]

Construction of Brasília, one of the few purposely-built capitals in the world, began in 1956 AD when President Juscelino Kubitschek activated an article in Brazil's first republican constitution dating back to 1891 stating that the country's capital should be centrally located; built in 41 months, the government was relocated to Brasília in April 1960.

Celebrated in cities across the country, the Carnival of Brazil accounts for 70% of the nation's annual tourist trade; punctuated by samba and axé music, the 4-day celebration preceding Lent is marked by parades, costume balls, street festivals, dances and the occasional religious ceremony.

From the 1500s through the 1700s, the bandeirantes - private expeditions led by Portuguese and Brazilian adventurers - explored and mapped much of the Amazon in their search for slaves, gold, gems and rare plants and, in the process, established bases deep in the rainforest, steadily pushing Brazil's western boundaries outward.

Getúlio Vargas[]


Getúlio Dornelles Vargas, nicknamed "the Father of the Poor", was a Brazilian lawyer and politician who served as the 14th and 17th president of Brazil, from 1930 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1954. In 1930, after losing the presidential election, Vargas rose to power under a provisional presidency following an armed revolution, remaining until 1934 when he was elected president under a new constitution. Three years later he seized powers under the pretext of a potential communist insurrection, beginning the eight-year long Estado Novo dictatorship. In 1942, he led Brazil into World War II on the side of the Allies after being sandwiched between Nazi Germany and the United States. Though he was ousted in 1945 after fifteen years in power, Vargas returned to the presidency democratically after winning the 1950 presidential election. However, a growing political crisis led to his suicide in 1954, prematurely ending his second presidency. Historians consider Vargas as the most influential Brazilian politician of the 20th century.

The Army and the Law[]

Getúlio Dornelles Vargas was born in São Borja, near Brazil’s border in Rio Grande do Sul, on 19 April 1882, the third of five sons born to Manuel do Nascimento Vargas and Cândida Dornelles Vargas. Alike to his father, Vargas embarked on a military career. He joined the Army in 1898 despite his father's requests not to, enlisting as a private in the 6th Infantry Battalion for one year. In 1899, he was promoted to sergeant. He also joined the military college at Rio Pardo and studied there until 1901. However, Vargas and twenty other cadets were forced to leave when they joined in a protest over lack of water. Only some time later did an amnesty allow him and the others to return. Vargas was admitted to the law school at Porto Alegre and adapted easily to the elitist climate among students. He became active in the students' republican faction and served as an editor and profile writer for the school's newspaper.

Connections and Experience[]

Entering politics in the Republican Party of Rio Grande do Sul, Vargas had two options after graduating from law school. He could either accept an instructorship position in the school he had just graduated from, or he could become the state attorney. Vargas chose the latter, a position that was secured by his father, and he was named the Rio Grande do Sul state attorney general by his party. He remained in the position until 1908. Vargas would gain invaluable experience, and, after building himself a reputation for loyalty and brightness, would be elected to the State Chamber of Deputies in 1909. Believing São Borja could not support more than one advocate's office, Vargas began his legal career as a promotor, or a public prosecutor, in Porto Alegre. Vargas's vocation as a promoter did not last long, for he married fifteen-year-old Darci Lima Sarmanho, a woman thirteen years younger than himself, in March 1911. They would remain together for forty-seven years until Vargas died in 1954. They had five children together: Lutero, Jandira, Alzira, Manuel (also known as Maneco), and Getúlio (also known as Getulinho). However, Vargas was an unloyal husband, having at least one confirmed affair.

President Medeiros[]

Near the end of 1916, Vargas refused an offer from Medeiros to become the state's police chief, opting instead to successfully run for reelection as a state deputy and would remain for two terms. During the 1923 civil war in Rio Grande do Sul, Vargas was called upon to lead a military unit with Republicans. He would organize the Seventh Provisional Division, and, when Republicans Oswaldo Aranha and José Antonio Flores da Cunha were under siege by Liberationists, lead two-hundred-fifty provisórios as lieutenant colonel, marching one hundred miles at night to Uruguaiana to "defend the ideas of his party". Before he could command any real action, President Medeiros messaged Vargas to hand over the military as he had been named federal deputy, a vacant seat he ran for in 1922, and deputies could only command troops with the permission of the National Congress. Vargas turned his command over to his cousin Deoclecio Dorneles Motta, immediately departed for Rio de Janeiro, and now held a far more important task; restoring the power of Rio Grande do Sul in federal politics.

The Man of Confidence[]

In May 1923, Vargas became a national deputy, becoming Medeiros's "man of confidence" during a troubling period. His objective was to diminish federal intervention in the state civil war and gave a speech stating the state government had it under control. In reality, there was doubt this statement was true and Medeiros had had to raise private loans in Uruguay to pay for war expenses. Vargas also had to lead his bloc of "gaucho deputies", demoralized after an editorial appeared in Porto Alegre calling for the acceptance of the incoming Arthur Bernardes administration. In 1924, Vargas became the official leader of the Rio Grande do Sul congressional delegation, the same year he was forced to take his daughter Alzira out of school in November after a warship opened fire on Rio de Janeiro as part of the tenente rebellions. With the knowledge that a paulista would succeed Bernardes, Vargas cultivated the paulista delegation during Bernardes's presidency. When Washington Luís was elected president in 1926, he chose Vargas to become his Minister of Finance. This was despite the fact Vargas had virtually no fiscal experience, even going as far as to deny joining a finance committee when he was in Congress. Though the economy was prosperous from 1926 to 1928, it was entirely based upon coffee. Within a month, Vargas had submitted a money reform bill to the National Congress, like the French Poincaré, with the objective of stabilizing the value of the Brazilian currency. It saw initial success before collapsing in the wake of the Wall Street Crash of 1929.

Return to Rio Grande do Sul[]

Vargas resigned from the Washington cabinet in late 1927 to be appointed President of Rio Grande do Sul. With the lack of an opposition and the Republican political machine, Vargas's election was assured and he became the president of the state with his term set to expire in 1932. Vargas was active throughout his two-year tenure. In one instance, he vetoed dishonest election results which favored his political party. In another, he negotiated a ceasefire between his state's two warring factions and successfully ended decades of hostility. Along with Aranha, who carried out his economic program, he provided credit to cattle ranchers and created interventionist cooperatives to bring in resources and lower export prices for agriculture. Vargas established the Banco do Rio Grande do Sul to lend money to farmers and touched upon education, mining, agriculture, and roads. During this time he remained loyal to Luís's administration and maintained ties to the federal government.

The End of Coffee and Milk[]

World coffee prices crashed in October 1929 and, with them, the Brazilian economy. In the midst of unrest and the collapse of the economy, President Luís broke the coffee and milk agreement, wherein he was supposed to nominate a person from Minas Gerais, instead declaring Júlio Prestes, from São Paulo, his successor. The ensuing political crisis led to the formation of the Liberal Alliance consisting of Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul and Paraíba forming an opposition to Prestes and nominating Vargas, who led a broad coalition of middle-class industrialists, planters from outside São Paulo, and the tenentes for the presidency. During the campaign, Vargas had also been careful not to offend planter landowners, though he did advocate moderate social reform and economic nationalism. The Liberal Alliance, amongst other social issues, pushed for agricultural schools, industrial training centres, sanitation to the countryside, establishing workers' vacations and a minimum wage, political reforms, individuals' freedom, and consumer co-operatives, much which Vargas would go on to install in the Brazilian economy.

The Brazilian Revolution of 1930[]

Much to the distaste of the opposition, Julio Prestes was declared winner of the 1930 election. Although many in the opposition considered orchestrating a coup following the results, Vargas claimed that they did not have enough power to successfully dispute the election. Eventually, it seemed the planned coup would not be executed. However, in the wake of the assassination of João Pessoa, Vargas's running mate, for romantic reasons, the opposition decided it was ultimately time to take up arms, and Vargas agreed. Alongside his co-conspirators, Vargas planned to overthrow the federal government in an armed revolution. This revolution, known as the Revolution of 1930, began on 3 October. Recife, was overtaken by its own citizens who invaded government buildings, an arsenal, and wrecked a telephone station; revolutionaries quickly took control of the Northeast. Luís resigned on 24 October 1930, at the urging of both the military and Cardinal Dom Sebastião Leme, paving the way for a short-lived military junta, composed of Brazil's military leaders, to take charge of the government. Vargas arrived in Rio de Janeiro in a uniform and wide-brimmed pampa hat, with 3,000 soldiers in the city in preparation of his arrival. The junta withdrew from power and installed Vargas as "interim president" on 3 November 1930.

The Early Regime[]

Vargas's provisional presidency began on 3 November 1930, when he assumed "unlimited power" from the provisional government in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1930 and gave a speech detailing a 17-point program. He imprisoned his prominent political opponents, and instead of taking the "constitutional solution", where Vargas would act within the boundaries of the 1891 constitution and he would be declared victor of the 1930 election, Vargas chose the "revolutionary solution" and assumed emergency powers with a provisional government. At the beginning of his provisional presidency, Vargas first addressed the crisis in the coffee industry, which was suffering from low prices due to the Great Depression, beginning in the U.S. on 29 October 1929. The Great Depression led to a lack of markets for Brazil's agricultural production and shook up the Brazilian economy. Though Vargas promoted the diversification of agriculture, especially with cotton, Vargas's government also recognized that they could not abandon the coffee sector, and as such they tried to concentrate Brazil's coffee policy in their hands. On 10 February 1933, Vargas's government created the National Coffee Department. Vargas's government was presented with a major problem, however: Large stocks of coffee had no demand on the international market. In July 1931, the government, using the money it received via export taxes and exchange taxes, would buy up excess coffee and terminate a part of it. Doing such, the price of coffee would be sustained and the supply would be reduced. Vargas, notably, created the Ministry of Labor, Industry, and Commerce. Laws were passed to protect workers, a March 1931 decree brought unions into line, and Vargas's government established the Bureaus of Reconciliation and Arbitration. Vargas's legislation did more for the industrial workers than for the more numerous agricultural workers, despite the fact that only relatively few industrial workers joined the unions that the government encouraged.

Abaixo a Dictadura; The Constitutionalist Revolution[]

Vargas's government took special measures in favor of the church, and the church received support for the new government from the majority of Brazil's Catholics. In April 1931, a decree allowed religion to be taught in public schools. Vargas's new government sought to centralize education, creating the Ministry of Education and Health. The initiatives were based on "authoritarianism" and a hybrid between hierarchical values and Catholic conservatism, though it was never considered "fascist indoctrination". Major reforms also took hold in higher education, with Vargas's government creating conditions favorable to universities. It was apparent the provisional federal government was attempting to centralize its power. After dissolving state and municipal legislatures as well as the National Congress, Vargas assumed all policymaking power of the legislative and executive branches and the ability to name and dismiss public officials at will, though the judiciary branch was allowed to remain with modification on all levels of government. Ensuring his support, Vargas also named federal "intervenors" to administer the Brazilian states and replace presidents. A rebellion broke out in Recife in May 1931. The painful transition between regimes was most evident in the 1932 Constitutionalist Revolution, a three-month long civil war in Brazil which pitted São Paulo, who now suffered as their interests and pride were lost, against the federal government in the name of a free constitution. The state believed their insurrection would set off a domino chain and that Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul would join them and a potential coup would transpire, which was not the case.

The Estado Novo[]

On 19 January 1931, Vargas ordered any communists be arrested and for their property to be seized. Communists staged marches, countermarches, and street fights. The Communist Party and Communist International hoped a military coup would overthrow the Brazilian government, weaken the United States and United Kingdom, and strengthen the Soviet Union. Vargas's government was threatened in November 1935 when a series of uprisings at three military bases, in Natal, Recife, and Rio de Janeiro, culminated into the communist uprising of 1935. Comintern believed they had sufficientally infiltrated the army enough to allow Luís Carlos Prestes to carry out the coup, but Vargas's forces "crushed" all revolts. In reality, the uprising played into Vargas's hands. Immediately after the revolt, Vargas convinced the National Congress to declare a state of emergency, during which he suspended civil rights, jailed trade unionists and his opposition, increased presidential powers, and bolstered police powers. On 10 November 1937, the coup was executed. In the morning, Vargas went to his cabinet and asked for signatures for a new constitution. The only dissident, Minister of Agriculture, resigned right then and there. The 1938 presidential elections were canceled, and Brazil became a dictatorship called the Estado Nôvo, or New State. Vargas's most prominent opponents were either arrested or exiled. As censorship concealed the media and the police were given increased powers, the public fell silent. Most of the constitution was produced by a single man, anti-liberal and anti-communist Francisco Campos, future Minister of Justice for Vargas. The new constitution was highly detailed and comprehensive. In general, the new era incorporated components from European fascism, though the President relied on the army for support rather than political parties. Vargas outlawed all political parties on 2 December 1937.

March Toward War[]

In Europe, Nazi Germany viewed Brazil as a key trading partner. Principally, Germany bought Brazilian cotton in return for German industrial goods, all the while the United Kingdom being the main loser. The American military worried the coup would bring Brazil closer to Nazi Germany, aware of Vargas' advisers', specifically Dutra's and Monteiro's, beliefs. In 1938, Vargas sent Aimée de Heeren to Paris as a secret agent to investigate the situation in Europe. Through Helmuth James von Moltke she obtained secret information about Hitler's plans for the Jewish population, prompting her to use "all her influence" on the President to distance Brazil from the Axis powers. In 1939, at the beginning of the Second World War, Vargas and Roosevelt both remained neutral, though Vargas continued to foster relations with the Axis powers. Popular culture was also an important aspect of Vargas's dictatorship. In 1941, his government created the National Sport Council, and, as Skidmore concludes, "Vargas was one of the first politicians to appreciate the political payoff from supporting it." Another example was the Rio Carnival: When it comes to federal governments, Vargas's was the first to support samba schools and Rio parades, both of which had become a universal symbol of Brazilian culture. Moreover, Vargas's government launched an elaborate campaign of restoring historic and religious archiecture, sculpture, and painting. In Petrópolis, the Imperial Museum of Brazil was restored, and the Ministry of Education and Culture building in Rio de Janeiro was designed by French architect Le Corbusier. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 and the leader of Germany, Adolf Hitler, declared war on the United States, it became apparent that Brazil's military odds were in favor of the Allies of World War II.

War and Fall from Power[]

Brazil declared war on Italy and Germany, on 21 August 1942, providing the allies with raw materials and Brazil's strategic coastline. The siding with the allies led to Monteiro and Dutra both turning in their resignations, which the President rejected. Vargas hoped to identify Brazil with the Allied cause. He offered three Brazilian army divisions to fight the Germans in the Mediterranean with the purpose of dramatizing Brazil's role in the war and to uplift Brazilian pride at home. Additionally, a contingent of the army fought crucial battles in the Italian campaign in 1944 and further reinforced war pride and antifascism. Vargas insisted every state be represented, whatever the quality of local recruits. His government now held even more power as the need to ration essentials increased, and centralization persisted yet again in Brazil. Though abroad the government defended democracy, there was increasing discontent at home when World War II finished due to the authoritarian policies by Vargas and his government. Growing political movements and democratic demonstrations forced Vargas to abolish censorship in 1945, release numerous political prisoners, and allow for the reformation of political parties, including the Brazilian Communist Party, which supported Vargas after direct direction from Moscow. Vargas added the Additional Act to the constitution, which, among other things, provided for a 90-day period during which a time and date for elections would be designated. Precisely ninety days afterward, the new electoral code was issued, established 2 December 1945 for the election of the president. Vargas promulgated his intention not to run for president, but the military forced his resignation and deposed him on 29 October, ending his first presidency.

The Second Presidency and Suicide[]

In the 1945 elections, Vargas demonstrated his continued popular support by winning election as senator for São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, and member of the chamber of deputies from nine different states. He accepted the senate seat for Rio Grande. In 1950, he ran for president as the candidate of the Brazilian Labor Party, winning the election and returning to office after four years. Vargas pursued a nationalist policy, turning to the country's own natural resources and away from foreign dependency. As part of this policy, he founded Petrobras. However, Vargas' political adversaries initiated a crisis which culminated in the murder of an Air Force officer, Major Rubens Vaz. Lieutenant Gregório Fortunato, chief of Vargas' personal guard, also called "Black Angel", was implicated in the crime. This aroused anger in the military against Vargas, following which the generals demanded his resignation. In a last-ditch effort Vargas called a special cabinet meeting on the eve of 24 August, but rumours spread that the armed forces officers were implacable. On Tuesday, 24 August 1954, at the Catete Palace, Vargas, unable to manage the situation, shot himself in the chest with a pistol. The Vargas family refused a state funeral, but his successor, Café Filho, declared official days of mourning. Many historians have regarded Vargas as the most influential Brazilian politician of the 20th century, as well as the first to draw widespread support from the masses.

Unique Components[]


After 18 Brazilian merchant ships were sunk by German submarines in the Atlantic, Brazil declared war against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in December 1942 AD, joining the Allies. In early 1944, 27,500 men and women were trained for the Brazilian Expeditionary Force, known in their homeland as pracinhas brasileiros. Their combat exploits were followed closely by the Brazilian populace, proud of the fact that their nation was the only one in South America to take an active role in Europe. Although lighter armed than their American and British counterparts, the Brazilian regiments fought with an elan and ferocity that brought praise and honors, but suffered almost 1000 killed in the campaign.


During his presidencies, Vargas sought to bring Brazil to the modern age through the creation of a new national industry. The chosen import substitution method required the development of base industry, with metallurgy serving as one of its primary branches. The process was facilitated by the creation of several state-owned companies, such as the Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional. Brazil is today among the world's largest exporters of iron ore and steel.