5 The Vargas Era (1930-1954)

The First Republic ( 1889-1930) was dominated by oligarchies who controlled the state political machines, which in turn kept themselves in power by not enlarging the electorate. Under this system, the dynamic units of the federation (namely, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, the Federal District, and to some extent Rio Grande do Sul) controlled the federal government through their control of cabinet positions and the bureaucracy. The elites cared little for democracy or popular mobilization, although the country went through the charade of empty electoral contests, in which only a handful of men (women were not permitted to vote) cast ballots. Coffee planters dominated; industrialists were mostly left to fend for themselves. Nevertheless, substantial changes did occur. Landowners and factory owners, needing cheap workers but not inclined to pay wages to the descendants of the slaves who had been freed in 1888, subsidized the immigration of European laborers. Most of these immigrants were settled in agricultural colonies, where they had to work for years to pay off their debts; eventually many migrated to the cities of the Center-South, finding menial jobs in factories, as artisans, and in commerce. Some of the immigrants, many of them from Spain or Italy, brought with them socialist and anarchist ideas, implanted labor militance among their fellow workers, and led a series of strikes--almost all

-97-

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The History of Brazil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Advisory Board ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Preface xiii
  • Timeline of Historical Events xv
  • 1 - An Earthly Paradise 1
  • Notes 29
  • 2 - Early Brazil (1500-1822) 31
  • Notes 52
  • 3 - Independence and Empire (1822-1889) 55
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - The Republic (1889-1930) 77
  • Note 96
  • 5 - The Vargas Era (1930-1954) 97
  • Notes 119
  • 6 - Dictatorship and Democracy (1954-1998) 121
  • Notes 144
  • 7 - Political Culture 147
  • Notes 166
  • 8 - Social and Economic Realities 167
  • Notes 183
  • Notable People in the History of Brazil 185
  • Bibliographic Essay 195
  • Index 203
  • About the Author 209
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