History of Brazil (republic)
June 20, 2007 2:53pm CST
Pedro II was deposed on 15 November 1889 by a Republican military coup led by general Deodoro da Fonseca, who became the country’s first de facto president through military ascension. The country’s name became the Republic of the United States of Brazil (which in 1967 was changed to Federative Republic of Brazil). From 1889 to 1930, the government was a constitutional democracy, with the presidency alternating between the dominant states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. However, several requirements had to be fulfilled for people to be eligible to vote. Thus, democracy was actually restricted to a small portion of the population. A military junta took control in 1930. Getúlio Vargas took office soon after that, and would remain as dictatorial ruler (with a brief democratic period in between), until 1945. He was re-elected in 1951 and stayed in office until his suicide in 1954. After 1930, the successive governments continued industrial and agriculture growth and development of the vast interior of Brazil. Provisional president Getúlio Dorneles Vargas ruled as dictator (1930–1934), congressionally elected president (1934–1937), and again dictator (1937–1945), with the backing of his revolutionary party coalition. He also served as a senator (1946–1951) and the democratically elected president (1951–1954). Vargas was a member of the gaucho oligarchy whose riches were based on land property, and rose to power through a system of patronage and clientelism, but he had a fresh vision of how Brazilian politics could be shaped to support national development. He understood that with the breakdown of direct relations between workers and employers in the ever-growing factories in Brazil, workers could eventually become the platform of a new form of political power—populism. By applying such insights inspired on Italian fascism, he would gradually establish such mastery over the Brazilian political world that he would stay in power for fifteen years. Vargas was responsible for Brazil's military role in World War II on the side of the Allies.  Juscelino Kubitschek's office years (1956-1961) were marked by the political campaign motto of plunging "fifty years of development in five". Kubitschek sought to achieve this progress with the aid of foreign investment, which in turn would be given generous incentives such as profit remittances abroad, low taxes, privileges for the import of industrial machinery, and government grants of land. Kubitschek was responsible for the construction of Brasília, Brazil's ultra-modern capital, in the 1960s. The military forces took office in Brazil in a coup d'état in 1964, and remained in power until March 1985, when a then fragilised government fell from grace because of political struggles between the regime and Brazilian elite. Some historians may argue that the dismanteling of the military dictatorship was merely a consequence of the regime's opening policy in the final years, but others will find that internal struggles for power within the government, combined with a strong popular disapproval of the dictatorship, were also partially responsible for the end of the regime. Just as the Brazilian regime changes of 1889, 1930, and 1945 unleashed competing political forces and caused divisions within the military, so too did the 1964 regime change. Tancredo Neves was elected president in an indirect election in 1985, as Brazil returned to civil government regime. He died before taking office, and the vice-president, José Sarney, was sworn in as president in his place. Fernando Collor de Mello was the first president truly elected by popular vote after the military regime . Collor took office in December 1989. In September 1992, the National Congress has voted for Collor's impeachment after a sequence of corruption scandals were discovered by the media. The vice-president Itamar Franco took office as the president. Assisted by the Minister of Finance at that time, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Itamar Franco's administration implemented the Plano Real economic package , which included a new currency pegged to the U.S. dollar, the real. The new-found economic stability in the country after years of undergoing hyperinflation scenarios have increased the popularity of Fernando Henrique Cardoso as a politician . In the elections held on October 3, 1994, Fernando Henrique Cardoso run for president and won. Cardoso followed a neoliberal scheme that included the privatisation of various state-owned companies, limited intervention in employment relationships and, after the financial downturns in the late 1990s, a floating monetary exchange rate regime. Reelected in 1998 , Cardoso guided Brazil through a wave of financial crises, including the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and the Russian default in 1998. In 2000, Cardoso has demanded the disclosure of some classified military files concerning Operation Condor , a network of South American military dictatorships that kidnapped and assassinated political opponents. Brazil’s most severe problem today is arguably its highly unequal distribution of wealth and income, one of the most extreme in the world. In the late 1990s, more than one out of four Brazilians continued to survive on less than one dollar a day. These socio-economic contradictions helped elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in 2002, in the hope for social and economic changes.