Getúlio Vargas

Joel Wolfe

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
Getúlio Vargas

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Getúlio Dornelles Vargas (b. 1882–d. 1954) was perhaps the single most dominant figure in 20th-century Brazilian politics. Vargas was a product of the machine politics of the Republican Party of his home state, Rio Grande do Sul, where he served as governor from 1928 to 1930. He had previously served in the state legislature and federal chamber of deputies. He also served as the federal minister of finance, 1926–1928, during the presidency of Washington Luís (1926–1930), who had been the governor of São Paulo before becoming president. Vargas ran for the presidency of Brazil in 1930 against Washington Luís’s political protégé, the governor of the state of São Paulo, Júlio Prestes. Although Prestes won the vote, leaders from other states were dissatisfied with the domination of São Paulo in national politics and backed Vargas in the Revolution of 1930. Vargas gained power on 24 October 1930 and served as the provisional president of Brazil. He promised to hold national elections and proceeded to rule while Brazil wrote a new constitution in 1934 that granted women the right to vote, provided for a national minimum wage, and guaranteed certain protections for working people, as well as other social and political changes. Vargas created a new Ministry of Labor, Industry, and Commerce to regulate industrial relations and promote industrial development. Rather than hold elections, however, Vargas declared himself the nation’s dictator and established the New State (Estado Novo) regime on 10 November 1937. The Estado Novo had certain fascist features. Vargas developed a close alliance with the United States at this time and even committed troops to fight under Allied command in Europe. Although the military had long supported him, the most-senior generals in the army removed Vargas from power on 29 October 1945, in a bloodless coup. In the congressional elections of 1946, Vargas was elected a senator from both the state of Rio de Janeiro and from Rio Grande do Sul. He served from his home state and again ran for president in 1950. He easily won but faced a number of intractable challenges and committed suicide in his bedroom in the presidential palace on 24 August 1954. Vargas’s political heirs dominated politics until the 1964 military coup.

Article.  10010 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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