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Borges de Medeiros, Antônio Augusto (1863–1961)

Borges de Medeiros, Antônio Augusto (1863–1961)

Antônio Augusto Borges de Medeiros (b. 19 November 1863; d. 25 April 1961), Brazilian statesman and political boss of Rio Grande do Sul (1903–1930). Born the son of an imperial judge in Capavaca, Rio Grande do Sul, Borges graduated from the Recife Law School in 1885 and agitated for the republic in his native province. A member of the federal Constituent Assembly, he supported Júlio de Castilhos's coup in 1892 and fought the rebels in the Federalist Revolt of 1893–1895. Picked by Castilhos as governor in 1898, Borges served the Riograndense Republican Party boss until Castilhos's death in 1903. Borges then became party leader and ruled the state until 1930, serving as governor a total of twenty-five years.

Like Castilhos, a Comtian positivist, Borges used the former's autocratic constitution to promote public education and rural property taxes; he also balanced the budget and practiced labor paternalism. With Senator Pinheiro Machado, Borges made the Riograndense Republicans contenders in national politics against counterparts in Minas and São Paulo. The gauchos opposed the Paulistas successfully in 1910, played arbiter in 1919, lost in 1922 and 1930, but then incited a revolt, overthrowing the regime. Riograndense economic interests, which were tied to the domestic foodstuffs market, often collided with those of the export-oriented Paulistas.

In 1928 Borges made Getúlio Vargas governor, and he backed Vargas's revolution in 1930. He soon broke with Vargas, supporting São Paulo's Constitutionalist Revolt (1932). Following the defeat of that movement and his imprisonment in Pernambuco, Borges de Medeiros received the second largest number of votes for the presidency in the Constituent Assembly of 1933–1934, losing to his protégé Vargas. Elected to Congress in October 1934 on the opposition ticket, Borges advocated a parliamentary regime to preclude a presidential dictatorship. His fears were realized three years later, when Vargas declared the authoritarian Estado Nôvo regime and closed Congress, effectively terminating Borges's political career.

See alsoBrazil, Populist Republic, 1945–1964 .


João Neves Da Fontoura, Memorias. Vol. 1, Borges de Medeiros e Seu Tempo (1958).

Joseph L. Love, Rio Grande do Sul and Brazilian Regionalism, 1882–1930 (1971).

Carlos E. Cortés, Gaúcho Politics in Brazil (1974), pp. 1-88.

Israel Beloch and Alzira Alves De Abreu, eds., Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro, 1930–1983 (1984), pp. 2142-2151.

Luiz Carlos Barbosa Lessa, Borges de Medeiros (1985).

Additional Bibliography

Félix, Loiva Otero. Coronelismo, borgismo, e cooptação política. Porto Alegre: Editora da Universidade, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 1996.

Franco, Sérgio da Costa. A pacificação de 1923: As negociações de Bagé. Porto Alegre: Editora da Universidade, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, 1996.

Pesavento, Sandra Jatahy. Borges de Medeiros. Porto Alegre: IEL, 1996.

                                                 Joseph L. Love

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