Fourth Brazilian Republic

Last updated
Republic of the
United States of Brazil
República dos Estados Unidos do Brasil (Portuguese)
Flag of Brazil (1960-1968).svg
Flag (1960)
Coat of arms of the United States of Brazil.svg
Coat of arms
Motto: "Ordem e Progresso"
(English: "Order and Progress")
Anthem: "Hino Nacional Brasileiro"
(English: "Brazilian National Anthem")
Brazil (orthographic projection).svg
Capital Rio de Janeiro (until 1960)
Brasília (after 1960)
Common languages Portuguese
(1950) [1]
Government Federal presidential republic
(19461961; 19631964)
Federal parliamentary republic
 19461951 (first)
Eurico Gaspar Dutra
 19611964 (last)
João Goulart
Prime Minister  
Tancredo Neves
F. d. P. Brochado da Rocha
Hermes Lima
Legislature National Congress
Chamber of Deputies
Historical era Cold War
31 January 1946
18 September 1946
  Brasília as capital
21 April 1960
 Parliamentary system
8 September 1961
 Return to Presidentialism
24 January 1963
31 March 1964
Currency Cruzeiro
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Flag of Brazil (1889-1960).svg Vargas Era
Brazilian military government Flag of Brazil (1960-1968).svg

The Fourth Brazilian Republic is the period of Brazilian history between 1946 and 1964 also known as the "Republic of 46" or as the "Populist Republic". It was marked by political instability and military's pressure on civilian politicians which ended with the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état and establishment of Brazilian military government.


This period was marked by often tumultuous Presidencies of Eurico Gaspar Dutra, Getúlio Vargas, Café Filho, Juscelino Kubitschek, Jânio Quadros and João Goulart.

In 1945, President Getúlio Vargas was deposed by a bloodless military coup, but his influence in Brazilian politics remained until the end of the Fourth Republic. During this period, three parties dominated national politics. Two of them were pro-Vargas — the Brazilian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro, PTB) to the left and the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrático, PSD) in the center — and another anti-Vargas, the rightist National Democratic Union (União Democrática Nacional, UDN).

End of the Estado Novo, 1945

As World War II ended with Brazil participating on the Allied side, President Getúlio Vargas moved to liberalize his own fascist-influenced Estado Novo regime. Vargas decreed an amnesty to political prisoners, including the chief of the Communist Party, Luís Carlos Prestes.

He also introduced an electoral law and allowed political parties to campaign. Three political parties introduced themselves into the national political scene. The liberal and rightist parties of the opposition against Vargas created the National Democratic Union. The bureaucrats and supporters of the Estado Novo grouped in the Brazilian Social Democratic Party. Vargas also created the Brazilian Labour Party, to the left, to group the workers' and the laborers' unions. The Brazilian Communist Party, weakened during the dictatorship, was also legalised.

The Estado Novo ended when two of the most rightist supporters, the Minister of War Pedro Aurélio de Góis Monteiro and Eurico Gaspar Dutra, led a military coup on October 29, 1945. The president of the Supreme Federal Tribunal, José Linhares was inaugurated as president of Brazil. Linhares guaranteed free and regular elections.

Vargas was forced into retirement. General Eurico Gaspar Dutra was elected president.

Dutra, 1946–1951

On September 18, 1946, the fifth constitution of Brazil was adopted, marking the country's return to democratic rule. That same year, the government created the Social Service of Industry (SESI) and Social Service of Commerce (SESC), and the General Staff, the future General Staff of the Armed Forces (EMFA).

U.S. President Truman and Brazilian President Eurico Dutra (center) during his visit to Washington, 1949 Photograph of President Truman and Brazilian President Eurico Dutra, standing at attention during ceremonies... - NARA - 200128.tif
U.S. President Truman and Brazilian President Eurico Dutra (center) during his visit to Washington, 1949

In 1946, Dutra ordered the closing of casinos and prohibited "gambling" in the country. In 1947, he appointed Osvaldo Aranha as representative of Brazil to the United Nations, outlawed Brazilian Communist Party, ended diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and in Petrópolis organized the Inter-American Conference of Peacekeeping and Security of the Continent, which was attended by the U.S. president, Harry Truman. In October 1948 his government set up the Superior School of War (ESG), with American support. Closer relations with Americans was displayed by formation of the Joint Commission of Brazil-United States, known as Abbink Mission, headed by John Abbink and Minister Octavio Gouveia de Bouillon.

The development strategy of the government included the “Salte Plan”, which put emphasis on Health, Food, Transportation and Energy. Proposed in 1947, it aimed at better management of public spending and investment in key sectors in the country but only began to receive funding from the budget in 1949, being forgotten in 1951. During this period measurements the country's economic growth by calculating the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) were first regularly published. The average annual growth of the Brazilian economy during Dutra administration was 7.6%.

On 6 August 1947 the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) was founded, but remained minor at the time.

In 1950, Brazil hosted 1950 FIFA World Cup for which the famous Maracanã Stadium was built.

During the Dutra government construction of the hydroelectric plant of Paulo Afonso, Bahia, and the President Dutra highway linking Rio to São Paulo was initiated.

Vargas, 1951–1954

In 1950, Vargas returned to the national politics and was elected a President. The Vargas administration was hampered by an economic crisis, congressional opposition, and impatience among his supporters. He announced an ambitious industrialization plan and pursued a policy of nationalization of the country's natural resources. To reduce foreign dependency, he founded the Petrobras Brazilian state oil enterprise.

By 1954, Vargas faced opposition from the UDN and the military. The murder of Major Rubens Vaz, an associate of opposition newspaper editor Carlos Lacerda, by some of the president's bodyguards, known as the crime of "Rua Tonelero", led to a reaction against Vargas. Army generals demanded his resignation.

After failing to negotiate a temporary leave of absence, Vargas declared "he would only leave the Catete (Presidential Palace) dead". Acknowledging that the chances that a democratic government succeed him were none, and that another military coup was coming, with probably worse results than 1950s one, Vargas kept his word and shot himself in the heart on August 24, 1954, after writing a letter blaming "international groups" and "revolted national groups" for the current situation. The results were immediate: opposition newspapers were "empastelados" (read: destroyed), the people took the streets and in a last shown of political force and popularity, Vargas postponed the military dictatorship by 10 years.

Collapse of Brazilian populism

Vargas' ever-shifting populist dictatorship helped to rein in the agrarian oligarchs, paving the way for the democratization of the 1950s and 1960s which was ended by the right-wing 1964 military coup. But the state still maintained a loose variation of Getúlio Vargas' populism and economic nationalism. Between 1930 and 1964, as Brazilian populism itself guided changes in the structure of Brazil's economy (Vargas' policies indisputably promoted industrial growth), Vargas and his successors were forced to shift the makeup of particular kinds of class alliances reconciled by the state.

After Vargas' suicide in 1954, awaiting a seemingly inevitable military coup, the support base for Brazilian populism began to deteriorate. Vargas' first ouster from 1945–1951 and his suicide demonstrated that Brazilian populism had been deteriorating for some time. Brazilian populism lingered for another decade but in new forms. If corporatism was the hallmark of the 1930s and 1940s, nationalism, and developmentalism characterized the 1950s and early 1960s. Each of these contributed to the crisis that gripped Brazil and resulted in the authoritarian regime after 1964.

Thus, as the historical context shifted, so did the ideology of Brazilian populism. Between 1934 and 1945, Brazilian populism was a surprisingly reactionary phenomenon, exhibiting remarkable parallels to European fascism. In contrast, under the presidency of João Goulart (1961–64) — a protégé of Getúlio Vargas and another gaúcho from Rio Grande do Sul, the closeness of the government to the historically disenfranchised working class and peasantry and even to the Communist Party led by Luís Carlos Prestes was equally remarkable. Goulart appeared to have been co-opting the Communist movement in a manner reminiscent of Vargas' co-optation of the Integralists shortly — and not coincidentally — before his ouster by reactionary forces. Eventually, the 1964 junta and the ensuing military dictatorship proved that the establishment forces that ushered Goulart's mentor into power in the first place, and the bourgeoisie that Vargas helped rear, found the left-leaning turn of Brazilian populism intolerable.

Temporary presidents, 1954–1956

After the suicide of Vargas his Vice-president Café Filho assumed the Presidency from August 24, 1954 until November 8, 1955 when due to illness he was briefly replaced by Carlos Luz, President of the Chamber of Deputies (November 8, 1955 – November 11, 1955) who was quickly removed by Minister of the Army Nereu Ramos who then served until January 31, 1956 when president-elect Juscelino Kubitschek was finally inaugurated.

Kubitschek, 1956–1961

Brazilian football team, 1958 Winning brazilian National team 1958.jpg
Brazilian football team, 1958
Construction of Brasilia, 1959. 0741 NOV B 05 Esplanada dos Ministerios Brasilia DF 03 09 1959.jpg
Construction of Brasília, 1959.
Construction of Palacio da Alvorada in Brasilia Palacio da Alvorada durante construcao.jpg
Construction of Palácio da Alvorada in Brasilia

Kubitschek's presidency was marked by a time of political optimism. Campaigning on a platform of "fifty years of progress in five" he presented a plan of National Development that had 31 goals distributed in six large groups: energy, transport, food, base industries, education and the main goal: the construction of new capital city Brasilia. This plan sought to stimulate the diversification and expansion of the Brazilian economy, based on industrial expansion and closer integration of national territory. He promoted the development of the automobile industry, naval industry, heavy industry, and the construction of hydro-electric power stations. With the exception of the hydro-electric industry, Juscelino practically created an economy without state-owned companies.

Kubitschek sought to achieve this progress with the aid of foreign investment, which in turn would be given generous incentives, such as profit remittances, low taxes, privileges for the importation of machinery, and donations of land. However, the exemption was made only if the foreign capital was associated with the national capital ("associated capital"). This influx of foreign capital threatened domestic industry, which was unable to compete with efficiency and expertise of foreign companies. Domestic manufacturers, once the core base of support for economic nationalism, become managers or partners of the multinationals. The urban bourgeoisie — the original base of Vargas' coalition — had little use for Brazilian populism any more, having outgrown state planning phase.

In 1958, Brazil won the 1958 FIFA World Cup.

By the end of his term, the foreign debt had grown from 87 million dollars to 297 million dollars. The inflation and wealth inequality had grown larger, with the occurrence of rural-zone strikes that expanded to the urban areas.

Quadros, 1961

Jânio Quadros was elected president of Brazil by a landslide in 1960, running as the candidate of National Labor Party (PTN). When Quadros took office on January 31, 1961 it was the first time since Brazil became a republic in 1889 that an incumbent government peacefully transferred power to an elected member of the opposition. It was also the first time in 31 years that the presidency was not held by an heir to the legacy of Getúlio Vargas.

Quadros laid the blame for the country's high rate of inflation on his predecessor, Juscelino Kubitschek. As president, Quadros outlawed gambling, banned women from wearing bikinis on the beach, and established relations with the Soviet Union and Cuba, trying to achieve a neutralist international policy. The re-establishment of relations with the Socialist Bloc in the middle of the Cold War cost him the support of the UDN in Congress, so he was left with no real power.

Resignation crisis

Quadros resigned on August 25, 1961, citing foreign and "terrible forces" in his cryptic resignation letter. His resignation is commonly thought to have been a move to increase his power, expecting to return to the presidency by the acclamation of the Brazilian people or by the request of the National Congress of Brazil and the military. This maneuver, however, was immediately rejected by the Brazilian legislature, which accepted his resignation and called on the president of the Chamber of Deputies of Brazil, Pascoal Ranieri Mazzilli, to assume office until the vice president, João Goulart, came back from his trip to Communist China.

Goulart, 1961–1964

Goulart faced strong opposition from conservative politicians and military officers in his bid to assume the Presidency. The crisis was solved by the "parliamentarian solution" – arrangement that decreased his powers as President by creating a new post of Prime Minister which was filled by Tancredo Neves and instituting a Parliamentary republic. Goulart finally assumed office on September 7, 1961.

Brazil returned to Presidential government in 1963 after a referendum and, as Goulart's powers grew, it became evident that he would seek to implement "base reforms" (bottom-up reforms) such as land reform and nationalization of enterprises in various economic sectors (which would remove the nation from its antique latifundial economy, but that were considered communist reforms), regardless of assent from established institutions such as Congress (Goulart had low parliamentarian support, due to the fact that his centrist attempts to win support from both sides of the spectrum gradually came to alienate both). [2]

On April 1, 1964, after a night of conspiracy, rebel troops made their way to Rio de Janeiro, considered a legalist bastion. São Paulo's and Rio de Janeiro's generals were convinced to join the coup. To prevent a civil war, and in knowledge that the U.S. would openly support the army, the President fled first to Rio Grande do Sul, and then went to exile in Uruguay.

See also

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  1. "Religion in Latin America, Widespread Change in a Historically Catholic Region". Pew Research Center. 13 November 2014. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
  2. "Brasil: Uma Historia - Eduardo Bueno" "Brasil uma História". Archived from the original on 2014-06-26. Retrieved 2014-09-16.