Lacerda, Maurício Paiva de (1888–1959)

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Lacerda, Maurício Paiva de (1888–1959)

Maurício Paiva de Lacerda (b. 1 June 1888; d. 23 November 1959), popular politician and journalist who contributed to the collapse of Brazil's Old Republic in 1930 through his passionate oratory. Always attacking those in power, Lacerda stirred the masses in the streets and encouraged workers to strike. He named his son Carlos Frederico, after Marx and Engels.

Maurício de Lacerda was born in Vassouras, Rio de Janeiro State. He was the oldest son of Sebastião de Lacerda, a prominent politician of the state who became a cabinet minister and supreme court justice. Before the willful Maurício obtained his degree at the Rio Law School, he was a student leader, director of a newspaper in Vassouras, and participant in an ineffective antigovernment conspiracy. As a congressman (1912–1920) from his home state of Rio de Janeiro, Lacerda introduced labor legislation. The antigovernment revolts of 1922 and 1924 were insufficiently labor-oriented to attract him, but he was nevertheless arrested on both occasions. Following his imprisonment (1924–1926) he allied himself with the "Cavalier of Hope," Luís Carlos Prestes, leader of the revolutionary Long March (1925–1927), but in 1929–1930 he angered Prestes by supporting the Liberal Alliance and its uprising, which brought Getúlio Vargas to the presidency.

Lacerda denounced the economic policies and what he saw as the fascist viewpoints of the new Vargas regime, and in 1935 he joined the Aliança Nacional Libertadora, whose honorary president, Prestes, was by then a Communist in hiding. Following the unsuccessful uprising of Prestes and his followers that year, Lacerda was jailed, again without cause, for a year. During most of the Vargas dictatorship (1937–1945), he did legal work for the Rio de Janeiro municipality. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress when the dictatorship fell.

See alsoLacerda, Carlos Frederico Werneck de; Vargas, Getúlio Dornelles.


Michael L. Conniff, Urban Politics in Brazil: The Rise of Populism, 1925–1945 (1981).

John W. F. Dulles, Anarchists and Communists in Brazil, 1900–1935 (1973).

John W. F. Dulles, Carlos Lacerda, Brazilian Crusader, vol. 1 (1991).

Additional Bibliography

McCann, Brian. "Carlos Lacerda: The Rise and Fall of a Middle-Class Populist in 1950s Brazil." The Hispanic American Historical Review 83 (November 2003): 661-696.

Mendonça, Marina Gusmão de. O demolidor de presidentes: A trajetória política de Carlos Lacerda, 1930–1968. São Paulo: Códex, 2002.

                                     John W. F. Dulles