Brazil Recent History

In 1891 the Brazilian Constituent Assembly voted the first Republican Constitution which remained in force until 1930. Then there was a period of 25 years in which dictatorships followed, the longest of which lasted 15 years (1930/45) and had as head Getulio Vargas. He made Brasil participate in the Second World War alongside the Anglo-American troops. At the end of the war he was forced, for consistency, to restore fundamental freedoms to Brasil and to resign.

In 1950, however, he returned to the presidency but for a crime committed by one of his bodyguards, the armed forces rebelled and forced him to resign. According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Brazil, Getulio Vargas had made important reforms that had brought the industries and, in any case, the economy of the whole Brasil to excellent levels.

In 1956 there were free elections and Juscelino Kubitschek was appointed President, to which Joao Goulart succeeded in 1961. The office of President in Brasil is for five years. The official name of the state is “ESTADOS UNIDOS DO BRASIL”; it is divided into “districts”, each of which is called “Vila” if the city is small and “Cidade” if the city is large.

Brasil is the most populated state in South America; it is inhabited by peoples of different lineages: indigenous, white, black, mulatto, mestizo and yellow due to the presence of Japanese. The most represented breed is the white one. All live in good harmony with each other and weddings between people of different races are also frequent. In Brasil, therefore, there is no racial question; Catholicism is the religion of 93% of the population and the official language is Portuguese.

Even Brasil, having supported wars for its independence, has its martyrs and national heroes. One of the first among them was certainly Gioachino da Silva Xavier, known by the name of Tiradentes (Spaccadenti).

Goulart, flanked by Premier Tancredo Neves, was helped in his work by his brother-in-law L. Brizola, governor of one of the wealthiest provinces in Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul. He also founded the “National Liberation Front” which proposed in February 1962 a vast land expropriation plan for farmers and the nationalization of many North American electricity, telegraph and telephone companies in the country. Of course this caused the drastic decrease in foreign capital but the United States did not react much because Kennedy, then president, did not want to add other errors to those already made in the past in Latin America.

Brazil Recent History

Instead in the north-east, one of the poorest areas of Brazil, a peasant movement had developed, led by the deputy F. Juliao, who illegally occupied the lands and distributed them to those concerned. To eliminate this abuse, the government had to intervene with the armed forces.

Goulart on 6 January 1963 called a referendum with which the parliamentary regime was restored then he began his policy of consolidating the economy but his diminished popularity and authority alienated general public opinion. Two blocks were created: on the one hand those who contested him in the name of “defending the family and God”, on the other the unions still in favor of him. The consequence was the beginning of a dangerous state of anarchy in which the army found room for a revolt against the president. He had to flee first to Rio Grande do Sul and from there to Uruguay. He had left behind a truly tragic situation, with the devaluation of the currency, the cost of living increased by 300%, the enormous increase in foreign debt and the lack of foreign capital in the country.

Immediate security measures were taken, many of the personalities of the previous government ended up in prison. Then there were those which were very burdensome for the middle class, especially to restore the economy. And for foreign policy, relations with the United States were strengthened while relations with Cuba were interrupted. On the contrary, the serious situation inside provoked some demonstrations, as usual sponsored by the students in the front row.

In October 1965, two opposition candidates were elected in the regional elections in two of the most important ones, such as Minas Geira and Guanabara. All this to underline the unpopularity of the government. At this point the government decreed the dissolution of all political parties.

Only two remained standing: one government, called the “National Renewal Alliance” and one opposition called the “Brazilian Democratic Movement”.

In February 1966, another constitutional act stipulated that the appointment for all government offices would from then on be carried out exclusively by the government. Executive power was even more strengthened after the promulgation of the new Constitution, which took place on January 21, 1967.

The new president-elect was Marshal A. Da Costa and Silva. He worked hard to bring the country back to a better economic level, favored the return to constitutional democracy, recognized a certain political and press freedom, blocked the increase in prices and granted, even if limited, wage increases.

This liberality meant that the three previous, unauthorized presidents met to form a movement called “Frente Ampla” with which they regained the sympathies of the Congress, wrecking all the efforts of Da Costa and Silva. He in 1969, after trying to bring the country back to normal, was caught in a thrombosis in August and died on December 17.

Immediately, instead of the vice-president P. Aleixo, a military triumvirate took over the government and immediately promoted the election of a new president.

On 30 October 1969 General E. Garrastazu Medici was elected; vice-president was Admiral Rademaker. A military government was established in the country, immediately opposed by three fundamental elements: the student protest, the action of the clergy and the guerrillas. The state and the church were stubborn adversaries and this caused serious international repercussions. In the late 1970s, however, there was a strong attenuation of the contrasts.

What instead raged fiercely was both rural and urban guerrilla warfare. The first was eradicated with relative ease but the second was very hard and made excellent kidnappings, for example that of the then Ambassador of the United States, B. Elbrik, of the Consul General of Japan in Sao Paulo, the Ambassador of Germany, Von Holleben and the Swiss ambassador, E. Bucher. All these personalities were released unharmed in exchange for the release of many political prisoners.
To eliminate this guerrilla, exceptional repressive measures were adopted and the death penalty was reintroduced.

In 1971, with the fall into the hands of the armed forces of the main guerrilla leaders, this armed struggle ended. Finally a constructive policy could be started in which, especially in 1974, some important commercial treaties with all the countries of Latin America found their place.

On January 15, 1974, General E. Geisel was elected President of the Republic, and General A. Pereira, his Deputy. Instead, in the legislative elections of November 15 of the same year, the “Brazilian Democratic Movement” was successful and the votes for the Senate also expressed a favorable opinion to the opposition with 16 out of 22 states. The government was a coalition and the president was J. Sarney.

Many economic agreements were entered into by Brazil internationally. Very important was the nuclear one of June 27, 1975 agreed with Germany which, in exchange for the supply of uranium, undertook to build eight complete nuclear power plants in Brazil.

Between 1975 and 1978 the economic situation was particularly disastrous with an inflation rate of 38% and external debt due to the numerous loans obtained.

There were protests in all sectors of the country: the people to claim human rights, the press for the censorship, the lawyers who claimed a rule of law, the students who asked for more impetus to public education, the popular movement against the an increase in the cost of living and the union cost to protect all workers and finally also the complaints of entrepreneurs who saw their incomes reduced at a glance. The situation was compounded by opposition from the National Bishops’ Conference.

The characteristic of those years was the continuous alternation of violence, right-wing terrorism and that of the state, evident above all in the barracks where there were many deaths from torture. Geisel, taking note of what was meant to be a warning, fought the situation hard and first removed the army minister, General S. Frota from the government. Then he began a policy of restoring order and democracy and, fearing a success of the Brazilian Democratic Movement, dissolved Parliament from April 1st to 15th 1977 and issued a new electoral law. Under the control of the National Renewal Alliance, the constituencies in the consultations of that year for the Chamber and the Senate recorded a result just slightly lower than the Movement against the Alliance.

At the end of 1978, before passing the scepter to his successor general JB Figueiredo, Geisel dismantled the seats of his almost dictatorial power, abolishing the death penalty, censorship and bringing back various political exiles, as well as restoring true justice in the courts.

The new president worked hard to restore democracy to the country and in this sense among the people, the increase in union power and therefore the greater strength and awareness of the working class assumed great importance.
He granted an amnesty for political crimes and approved the reorganization of the parties, trying to weaken the opposition already for the next 1982 elections.

Meanwhile, as these consultations approached, the people asked to be able to directly elect the president, but to do this, a change to the current Constitution was needed. An amendment was approved and the January 1985 elections were won by T. Neves, a candidate well accepted by both the military and civilians.

But Neves died in the following April and the assignment automatically passed to his deputy, J. Sarney. He immediately began work to improve the economy and in February 1986 he issued the “Cruzado Plan” with the aim of combating the abuses of all types of administration. So he invited all citizens to report any price increases that had occurred illegally. The popular response was immediate, the plan was a huge success and inflation quickly dropped to 3%. This work was also rewarded in the November consultations with the absolute majority obtained by the governing party both in the House and in the Senate.

But economists, more prone to price liberalization, worked for it by launching a special plan. The popular disappointment was great, the proposed democratic framework authorized skepticism and lack of trust. Various disputes arose among the major parties and the result was that the subsequent elections postponed to 1989 and Sarney remained in office.

The situation in the country was somewhat precarious in that period, with inflation in 1988 at 2500%, with the widespread anti-partyism among the people, with the military who did not accept roles other than government political ones.

For the 1989 presidential election three characters emerged: the populist L. Brizola, the worker LI da Silva, called Lula and the unknown F. Collor de Mello, backed by the well-known television network Globo and brought by a party that he himself had founded in February of that year, the “National Reconstruction Party”. The latter won the elections with 51.5% of the votes.

The new president immediately announced an austerity plan with privatizations, freezing of prices and wages and blocking bank accounts for a year and a half. All this led to a sudden drop in inflation.

The October 1990 elections were an open declaration to the president of the popular favor. In May 1991 the new recovery of inflation was attributed to the poor government of the minister of the economy, Mrs. Zelia Cardoso de Mello, who was immediately released from office.

Another spike in inflation in 1992 caused de Mello to lose popular support and then, following the discovery of corruption by some government officials and himself, he was forced to resign in December 1992, replaced by vice-president I. Franco.

With this picture it was difficult to start economic reforms and meanwhile foreign investments had suffered a frightening decline.

In May 1993 he assumed the position of Minister of Finance FH Cardoso who in the first months of 1994 managed to launch serious economic measures such as the increase in privatizations, freezing of salaries for a year, creation of a special emergency fund for expenses social. In March 1994, he added the currency to the dollar in preparation for the issue of a new currency, the “real”, always in parity with the US dollar.

With the financial successes he presented himself as a candidate in the presidential elections of October 1994 and he won them already in the first round with 54.3%. His main aim was always the improvement and development of the country and he tried to carry out the agrarian reform with a more equitable distribution of the lands to the peasants. But the strong presence in the government of many landowners did not allow him to achieve appreciable results in this field.


In June 1995, however, with an amendment to the Constitution, he managed to impose privatization on oil companies that had been a state heritage for 40 years.

Fiscal and agrarian reforms were always blocked and the movement of the “landless” was linked to this last chapter, which, which arose in 1985, was increasingly expanding its ranks. For this reason bloody clashes occurred between the followers of the Movement and the private militias of the landowners. In April 1996 a massacre of laborers forced Cardoso to form a Ministry for Agrarian Reform which, however, was completely unable to change the state of affairs. The following year, therefore, the Movement of the Landless organized a march on Brasilia with the support also of the urban classes. All this had a disastrous result since there was a massive exodus of rural populations from the countryside to the cities which, thus, saw the hardships, violence and organized crime grow enormously.

Meanwhile, in foreign policy, Brazil was very active in agreeing trade treaties with other Latin American countries. Cardoso then continued internally in his reforming work and ran again in the 1998 elections.

Despite the extremely difficult situation in every economic and political sector, Cardoso remained in office in the elections of October 1998 and in January 1999 a coalition government was formed, under the leadership of the “Liberal Front Party”.