I’ve been preparing content for this blog over the last couple of weeks, collecting information, making note of future posts and catching up on some essential reading. It’s been difficult to choose what to start off with as so many topics capture my interest and imagination. While website surfing, this morning, I came across a list of “On This Day Birthdays”, which included former Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas. Inspiration struck and I dove in.
Here is the first content post on Over The Andes. Please enjoy and I hope you learn something new.
Birthday: April 19, 1883
Birthplace: Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Getúlio Vargas is a familiar name in Latin American History. In my classes, I teach a module that focuses on Vargas and Juan Perón with regard to their role as populist presidents. There are many similarities between these two leaders of the Southern Cone, who were among the first to formally recognise the value of the working class and women in the development of their countries.
A Few of the Notable Aspects of Getúlio Vargas’ reign
- In 1930 Getúlio Vargas broke the yoke of political power held by the elites of São Paulo and Minas Gerais under the café com leite governance system of the Old Republic, when he ousted Washington Luís Pereira de Sousa.
- In 1932 Vargas signed a national election code which allowed women the right to vote in national elections and established the secret ballot.
- Vargas’ administration granted several concessions to Labour (urban) such as a minimum wage, an eight-hour work day and a social security system.
- With the support of the military, the government implemented Import Substitution Industrialization in an attempt to make Brazil more self-sufficient and less dependent on agriculture. The manufacturing industry flourished.
- A sense of nationalism pervaded when Article 119 of the 1934 Constitution gave the government control over mines, energy sources and any other industry essential to the economic and military defence of the country.
- Protections for Labour did not extend to agricultural workers, who still made up the bulk of the labour force; and agrarian reform was largely ignored.
- In 1938 Vargas cancelled elections and abolished all political parties. The Estado Novo was formed.
- Women were encouraged to go back to the home as new taxes penalised single women and childless families.
- Economic difficulties and social discontent provoked a military take-over in 1945.
- The military government was also unable to appease a Brazilian society in search of reform and Getúlio Vargas returned to office after the elections of 1950.
- Inheriting another difficult economic system and falling out of favour with the United States, due to the implementation of increasingly nationalistic policies, Vargas faced tremendous criticism at home and abroad.
- In August 1954, the military once again demanded his resignation and Getúlio Vargas took his own life.
The legacy of Getúlio Vargas, like many former leaders, is mixed. Some refer to him as an “unprincipled dictator” who held on to power for too long. Yet others revere him as the “father of the poor” in Brazil. History provides examples for both descriptions.