You are on page 1of 8

Udi Onyile A3 Source BBC News, August 24, 1954 1954: Brazilian president found dead

Brazilian President Getulio Vargas has committed suicide hours after resigning amid a deepening political crisis. He was found by his son in his private apartments at 0830 local time. Dr Vargas, who shot himself through the heart, left a dramatic suicide note that was broadcast on national radio just two hours after his body was discovered. In it he complained his efforts to "liberate" the people of Brazil had been hampered by foreign interests which he blamed for the economic crisis that is gripping the nation. His letter read: "Nothing remains except my blood. I gave you my life, now I give you my death. I choose this way to defend you, for my soul will be with you, my name shall be a flag for your struggle." It ended: "I take the first step to eternity. I leave life to enter history." Attempted murder The president's death comes at a time of serious unrest in the country. Inflation is at an all-time high and wage increases are not keeping pace with prices. Discontent with Dr Vargas came to ahead after the attempted assassination of opposition newspaper editor and Congress candidate Carlos Lacerda earlier this month. Mr Lacerda, a fierce critic of the Vargas regime, was wounded in the foot during the attack on 5 August and an air force officer was killed, sparking fury among the Brazilian military. The driver of the getaway car was later arrested and confessed that one of the killers was the president's bodyguard. President Vargas seized power in the 1930 revolution, dissolved parliament seven years later and banned all political parties and trade unions. He censored the press and suppressed all opposition. After the end of World War II in 1945 the president yielded to popular demand for greater democracy and was forced to step down by the army.

President Dutra was duly elected but in October 1950 Dr Vargas, now leader of the Brazilian Labour Party, was voted back into the presidency. Three years on, Brazil's once thriving economy is riddled with foreign debt to the tune of $1,000 million, wages increases cannot keep up with price rises and there has been speculation that the Vargas regime is involved in corruption and dubious business deals.

Summary #1 Industrialization

The first attempt at industrialization occurred during the time that the Portuguese ruled Brazil. Brazil attempted to become industrialized, but were restricted by the Portuguese economic policy which governed by the principle of Mercantilism. Also, during the time of the Brazilian Empire, Brazilian business men invested in industries. They experience expansion, but the business foreign policy favored agriculture, making foreign competition discourage investments into the industrialization process. Though after the Brazilian Empire small forms of industrialization continued, it was not significant. Vargas had a large role in the industrialization of Brazil around the time of the depression. When Vargass party came into power they changed the system to create rapid growth in industrialization. They did this by revising the tax structure to make the local and state administrations more dependent on the central government. Also, labor was controlled by the government. Business was stimulated by a program of rapid industrialization.

Summary #2 Backyard Relationship

The relationship between Vargas and the United States was strained because of Vargass nationalistic economic policies. More specifically Vargass industrialization plan that was closed to foreign capital investment. Also, The United States refused to give Brazil economic assistance because of them being against nationalism, even though Brazil assisted the United States in World War II, this lead Brazil to not send troops to Korea.

Political Perspective

Vargas rose to power through the system of patronage and clientelism as a member of the gaucho-landed oligarchy. Vargas was chosen to represent the Liberal Alliance in the upcoming election in Brazil. During this time the current president Pereira was from Sao Paulo, and the Golden Rule of Brazilian Politics is that presidents alternated between candidates from Sao Paulo and Minas State. Pereira ignored this rule and put government support behind Julio Prestes, another man from Sao Paulo. When Prestes won the presidency Vargas announced that he would accept the result, but truly Vargas planned to overthrow Prestes administration. There was a coup which lasted for three weeks and ended with Vargas becoming president Vargas started his political career as a corporatist, but eventually his ideals became socialist. Early in his political career Vargas established a new constitution which reestablished the legislative system to include both state and local sector representatives. Even with this constitution, Vargas still ended up having a prolonged authoritarian government. There was rebellion from the Tenentismo (or lieutenants), who desired autonomy within the government instead of centralization. With elite civilians fear of an outbreak in Civil War there was strong

support for a strong unified military. When the Brazilian Military became a federal monopoly, a turning point in Brazilian politics was established. After this establishment all political parties were rid of until 1944. In 1945 Vargas was overthrown by a coup in a wave of democratic sentiment which flourished across postwar Brazil. People were unhappy with him because of the inflation in foreign debt and the runaway inflation rates. When Vargas left the New State ended. Even with Vargas being overthrown he still remained widely supported by Brazilians. When Vargas ran for president again in 1950, He ran on the platform of populism induced military, elite, and United States fear of nationalism. During his time of presidency Vargas now faced many restraints from the congress, political parties and public opinion. Vargas now found it difficult to satisfy his labor following and satisfy mounting, middle-class opposition. In the time of slow foreign energy resources in the 1950s Vargas created the Brazilian Petroleum Company in 1953, and the Brazilian Electric Power Company in 1961.

Social Perspective

Vargas used workers as the basis for Populist power. Vargas ended the age of agricultural elites, and established a stronger middle class. Also Industrial leaders were given more influence nationally. When Vargas established a new constitution in 1934, Vargas electorally reformed the voting system by having secret ballots, giving women right to vote, and making special courts to supervise elections. By establishing Estado Novo, Vargas embraced and established a populist authoritarian country. Even with the economic growth of the country, citizens of this time were very repressed. Citizens who tried to have organized strikes were considered to be practicing a

crime. Journalist and novelist were also censored, jailed, and discouraged. Military school was restricted to citizens who were considered respectable within the retrospect of the social hierarchy. Even with this repression Vargas was the first official to allow women to vote, and even gave women positions to serve on his staff. Also, with the new constitution there were major reforms in the educational system.

Economic Perspective

During the end of Vargass term he held and coup and started a new economic system called Estado novo which was a corporatist state. With the New state many economic changes were made in the Brazilian system. For workers there were now a wide range of benefits, including minimum wage. Also, Social Security laws were enacted, but the private enterprise remained the same. Also, he social reforms did not extend to the rural poor. During War World II Brazil became an important supplier of raw materials to the allied war efforts. In exchange for this the United States invested huge sums of money into infrastructure, highways, railroads, ports, and airports. These things were almost entirely constructed by the funds of the United States. The United States also helped to create Brazils first steel industry by funding Brazils first Steel Mill. Vargas created further industrialization by creating The National Motor factory, which produced trucks and airplane engines. In the 1950s when Vargas became president again he enforced a system where priority was given to essential goods and inputs, and discouraged imports of consumer goods. The unexpected result of this was the protection provided to the consumer goods industry.

Primary Source Photo

Hart Preston. Getulio Vargas. 1940. Photograph. Life, Brazil. Web. 14 Dec 2011. <>.

Origin: January 1st 1940, Brazil Purpose: When Vargas announced a five year plan of economic development, which included the building of a steel mill and the development of hydroelectric power. Value: The photographer was physically at the event, and the viewers of the picture can see the Vargass administration great disapproval of this girls speech. It shows the administrations repression of free speech. Limitations: The limitation of the photo is that we are unsure of the reasoning behind this girl speaking to the president, and why they truly disapprove it.

Primary Source Documents

SUICIDE NOTE OF THE FORMER PRESIDENT GETLIO VARGAS Once more, the powers and the anti-people interests joined together and they both fall both upon my head again. I am not accused, I am insulted; I am not opposed by, I am fakely charged, and I am not given the sacred right to defend myself. My voice must be choked, so as I cannot defend, as always I have been done, the Brazilian people, mainly the humble people. I follow my destiny as set ahead. After decades of being ruled and exploited by the International Economical and Financial Groups, I turned myself leader of a revolution and I won. I started them the work of national liberation and I installed the social welfare regime. I was obliged to resign, but I returned back to office supported by the Brazilian people's arms.

International Groups, working out an underground campaign, allied to Domestic Groups both revolted against the labor law. The extra profit bill was withstood in the National Congress. Hatred was raised against the fair correction of the national minimum wages. I decided to upgrade the national freedom through PETROBRS, the National Brazilian Oil Company, and it hardly starts to work and a rioting wave grows against it. ELETROBRAS, the National Electrical Power Company, has been despairely hindered. They do not want the Brazilian Worker to be free. They do not want the Brazilian People to be free. I took office with raising inflation destroying the value of the salaries. Foreign companies achieved profits of 500% per year. More than one hundred million US dollar frauds in importing operations were unveiled. The coffee crisis came up, increasing our main product value. We tried to defend its price and the response was a violent strike against our economy, obliging us to withdraw. I have been struggling month after month, day after day, hour after hour, withstanding a constant, never-ending pressure, silently bearing everything, forgetting everything, resigning to myself, all that to defend the people that now do fall aside unsupported. I have nothing to give to the people, but my own blood. Should the meat-eating birds want to suck someone's blood, want to suck the Brazilian people, I do offer my life in holocaus to the people. I chose that way to be always with you. When you suffer humiliation you shall feel my soul suffering beside you. When famine hits your door, you shall feel in your chest the energy to struggle not only for yourself but also for your children. When you are offended, you shall feel in your thoughts the power for reaction. My sacrifice shall keep you joined together and my name shall be your fight banner. Each drip of my blood shall be an immortal flame on your conscience and shall keep the sacred vibration to resist. To the odium I respond with the mercy. And to those thinking to have defeated me, I do respond with my victory. I have been the people's slave and today I am getting my liberty to the everlasting life. But the people, whom I have been slave of, shall not be anybody's slave again. My sacrifice shall stay forever in their soul and my blood shall be the price of their rescue. I fought against Brazil's exploitation. I fought against the Brazilian people's mistreatment. I have been fighting without weapons. The hatred, the lies, the fake deeds, nothing took me down. I do fear nothing. Firmly and softly I step forward the eternity, leaving life to go into History. Getlio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro, Aug/24th/1954

Origin: August 24, 1954 in Rio de Janeiro Brazil Purpose: Vargas wrote the letter before killing himself after being asked by the military to resign. This was his last words to the people. Value: The letter is a primary source that shows the inner workings of the leader, Vargas. Limitations: Since Vargas is being asked to resign from his position, his perspective of the military and Brazilian government would be screwed, and not very reliable. Also, his opinion on his policies would not be very good sources, because they are policies which he created and enacted. The Autumn of the Patriarch

Vargass administration dissolved in frustration and charges of corruption. The military demanded that Vargas resign from his position, instead of resigning Vargas shot himself on August 1954 to death. It was not until after his death that his social programs he started during his presidency were celebrated. Vargas had sympathy from the people for his death, and is remembered as the father of the poor. With his death Vargas left behind a letter, the letter was read aloud on radio and television which rallied the citizens up and left them chanting for his return instead of his resignation.