Lewis, Gunner

Prior to the Revolution of 1930, the Old Republic had been ruling Brazil since 1889. Throughout the 1920’s, however, the power of the old government had been diminishing due to the mobilization of the industrial worker, influenced by the Nazi and Fascist revolts. This threatened the stability of the traditional ‘Coffee and Milk Policy” that had been a rural alliance between the states of Sao Paulo and Minas Gerais. Tensions worsened after accusal of fraud in the March 1, 1930 presidentioal election in which Julio Prestes beat Getulio Vargas, even though popular opinion strongly favored Vargas. These tensions erupted in violence following the assassination of Joao Pessoa by Joao Dantas in 1930. At the heart of the rebellion was Getulio Vargas who launched a military coup in Quatigua. On November 1, 1930, the government handed power to Vargas, ending the Old Republic and knocking down most of the national oligarchies. Vargas became head of the provisional government with broad powers. The constitution of 1891 was repealed and Vargas became a dictator.

The effects of the revolution were slow to appear. The new constitution was approved only in 1934. But the structure of the Brazilian State was profoundly modified after 1930, making it more suited to the economic and social needs of the country. One of the key aspects of Vargas’ rule was that he shifted the focus of Brazil’s plantation-based economy into an industrialized power house. He wished to develop the country very quickly by creating state monopolies for oil, mining, steelmaking, and automobiles. This was a monumental change from the social and political structers that had ruled the country before. Politically, the revolution caused the fall of the Old Republic in order to install a single dictatorship. The ending of the alliance between the agricultural and industrial sections of the economy in favor of a much more industrialized economy also demonstrates the change in structure within the country. Socially there was a change from the focus being on the ruling elite to the working class. workers received many benefits under the new rule as Vargas was an extreme proponent of workers’ rights, even earning the nickname ‘O Pai dos Pobres’. (Meaning Father of the Poor) In order to better preserve the rights of the working class, Vargas also expanded the electorate, granted women’s suffrage, enacted social security reforms, and legalized labor unions.