President Getúlio Vargas
Liamara Soares da Silva
Getúlio Vargas (1883-1954) – Getúlio Dornelles Vargas was born in São Borja, in the state of State of Rio Grande do Sul, on April 19, 1883. While building his political career, he had the chance to be the Minister of the Treasury, Governor of Rio Grande do Sul, and the head of the provisory federal government, taking office on November 3, 1930 . He formed the Ministry of Labor, Industry, and Commerce, and held an Assembly to create the Constitution, which was enforced on July 16, 1934 . Simultaneously, the Congress held indirect elections and Vargas became the President of Brazil.
World War II brought
about the decrease in the supply of industrialized products. This helped
to strengthen our national industries. A policy for the exploration of
our national riches was established. The State would participate in the
economic activities, especially in the essential sectors that were not
in position to develop on their own, as was the case of steel refining.
The economic measures
had a nationalistic character, as for example, the foundation of the
Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional [National Steel Metallurgy Company]. The
construction of the Volta Redonda Plant, financed by the U.S.A. , began
in 1942 because Brazil forged a closer relationship with the United
States at that time. In the same year, a Technical Committee visited
Brazil to help with projects such as the Companhia Vale do Rio Doce for
mineral extraction, and the Paulo Afonso Hydroelectric Plant. Vargas
also created the National Oil Committee to control oil refinement and
distribution as a way to reduce Brazil ’s dependence on the fuel
In return, Brazil
supported the Allied Forces during World War II. A consequence of this
was the discontinuation of diplomatic relationships with the Axis
nations. When German submarines sank two Brazilian merchant ships Brazil
declared war on Germany on August 22, 1942 , and sent the FEB – Força
Expedicionária Brasileira [Brazilian Expeditionary Force] to fight in
The participation of
the FEB in World War II was important to Brazil ’s democratization
process. The fight against European fascism was used to incite the fight
against Getulio’s New State . In 1943, Getulio appeared to be in favor
of the country’s re-democratization, but only after the end of the war.
On February 1945, the
1937 Constitution was amended to include an act that allowed calling
presidential elections. Two candidates opposing the government soon
appeared. Eurico Gaspar Dutra was the candidate supported by the
At that time three
political parties were created, the UDN – União Democrática Nacional [National
Democratic Union], against Vargas, and the PSD – Partido Social
Democrático [Social Democratic Party] and the PTB – Partido Trabalhista
Brasileiro [Brazilian Workers’ Party], based on Vargas’s ideals. On
April 22, Vargas gave amnesty to all political prisoners, and on May
28th, he set a date for the elections for the following 2nd of December.
The opposition feared
Getulio might prohibit the presidential elections and the conspiracy to
depose him expanded. Getulio was actually deposed on October 29, 1945 as
the army surrounded the Catete Palace and forced him to resign. The
President of the Supreme Court, José Linhares, took office and President.
Vargas found exile in São Borja.
Dutra was elected
President, and Rio Grande do Sul, São Paulo , and six other states
elected Getúlio Senator. His choice to be a Senator was to oppose
Dutra’s government. He won the elections and took office as President
again on January 31, 1950
From the very
beginning of his office, he found strict opposition. He never managed to
get the necessary support to carry out the reforms he wished to
establish. Getúlio began the campaign to nationalize the oil under the
slogan “Oil is ours.” The campaign culminated with the creation of
Petrobrás, our national oil company, in 1953. It would keep the monopoly
of perforation, extraction and refinement, whereas private companies
would be in charge of the distribution.
At this time, Vargas
started to continually confront foreign companies that were being
accused of sending excessive amounts of profit abroad. In 1952, a decree
established a maximum of 10% of earned profits for such remittances.
In 1953, João Goulart
was appointed Minister of Labor. He aimed to create a policy to bring
workers closer to the government. He considered increasing the minimum
wage by 100%. The campaign against the government had a new target now,
João Goulart. The military did not like Jango, as was he was popularly
known. On February 8, they handed a Manifest to the Ministry of War, the
“Manifesto dos Coronéis” [Manifest of Colonels]. Under the pressure of
the military, Getúlio agreed to dismiss João Goulart.
There was even more
pressure on Vargas, but he tried to help the workers more than ever. On
May 1, 1954 , he increased the minimum wage by 100%. The opposition
unsuccessfully tried to impeach the President.
The conservative press,
especially the Jornal Tribuna da Imprensa owned by Carlos Lacerda,
initiated a violent campaign against the government. On August 5, 1954
someone tried to kill Lacerda, but killed Major Rubens Florentino Vaz.
The incident had wide repercussions and the result was a serious
political crisis. The investigations demonstrated that Gregório
Fortunato, head of Getulio´s guard body was involved. Fortunato was
The opposition’s pressure increased. The military forces and the Congress demanded Getúlio’s resignation. An increasingly tense climate led Getúlio to shoot himself in the heart on August 24, 1954 . Before committing suicide, Getúlio wrote a letter, which was, in fact, his political will. In this document, he mentions things such as: “Hatred appeared against the fair minimum wage increase (…)” ”They don’t want the worker to be free.” “They don’t want the people to be independent.” “I gave you my life. I now offer you my death. I don’t fear anything. I will serenely give my first step into Eternity, and I will leave life to go into History.”
Lázaro Curvêlo Chaves
(*) Mineiros – people born in the state of Minas Gerais.