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Flores da Cunha, José Antônio (1880–1959)

Flores da Cunha, José Antônio (1880–1959)

José Antônio Flores da Cunha (b. 5 March 1880; d. 4 November 1959), Brazilian politician. Born to an oligarchical family from Santana do Livramento, Rio Grande do Sul, Flores was an important political figure in the three decades following the Revolution of 1930. He was educated at the São Paulo Law School from 1898 to 1902, and completed his studies at the Rio de Janeiro Law School in 1903.

Flores was among the dissident oligarchs who supported the revolution against the dominant oligarchies of São Paulo and Minas Gerais. Indeed, his support of Getú lio Vargas was crucial to the overthrow of the First Republic and Vargas's seizure of power. However, as governor of Rio Grande do Sul and a senator in the 1930s, he staunchly defended federalism and worked to limit the centralization of political power under Getúlio Vargas's regime (1930–1945). His federalist stance, often backed by his threat to use the nation's largest state militia, made him too dangerous for Vargas to ignore. After a near outbreak of civil war in 1937, Flores was exiled to Uruguay until 1942. When he retur-ned to Brazil, he was imprisoned.

Flores saw reaction against centralization as the only means of assuring oligarchical elites political space in the post-1930 world. Despite his support for the Revolution of 1930, Flores gradually distanced himself from Vargas after 1935. As governor of Rio Grande do Sul from 1935 to 1938, he was a major force in the continuing influence of traditional politicians and regionalism after 1930. In 1945, Flores joined the National Democratic Union Party (UDN), which opposed Vargas, and he supported the military's successful ouster of the dictator. In 1950 he was elected to Congress on a UDN ticket. In 1955 he broke with the UDN because he opposed its golpistas, who had conspired to mount a coup against the government. He lost his final campaign for office in 1958, completing his term in Congress in January 1959. Flores died in Rio Grande do Sul.

See alsoBrazil, Political Parties: National Democratic Union of Brazil (UDN); Brazil, Revolutions: Revolution of 1930; Vargas, Getúlio Dornelles.


John W. F. Dulles, Vargas of Brazil (1967).

Robert M. Levine, The Vargas Regime: The Critical Years, 1934–1938 (1970).

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

Carlos E. Cortés, Gaúcho Politics in Brazil: The Politics of Rio Grande do Sul, 1930–1964 (1974).

Thomas E. Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, 1930–1964: An Experiment in Democracy (1986).

Additional Bibliography

Bellintani, Adriana lop. Conspiração contra o Estado Novo. Porto Alegre, RGS: EDIPUCRS, 2002.

Caggiani, Ivo. Flores da Cunha: Biografia. Porto Alegre, RGS: Martins-Livreiro Editor, 1996.

Masina, Léa, Myrna Bier Appel, and Antônio Hohlfeldt, eds. A geração de 30 no Rio Grande do Sul: Literature e artes plásticas. Porto Alegre, RGS: Editora da Universidade, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, PPG-Letras, 2000.

                                                  Brian Owensby

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