Revolution of 1930

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Revolution of 1930

Unsuccessful in the presidential race of 1930, Getúlio Vargas, governor of Rio Grande do Sul, led a military uprising that overturned the government of Brazil. The revolt began in Porto Alegre, capital of Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil. There was little bloodshed.

The "revolution" stemmed in part from the domination of Brazil by the state of São Paulo since the fall of the monarchy in 1889, and in part from the fact that the incumbent president, Washington Luís Pereira De Sousa of São Paulo misjudged the mood of the nation when he imposed another paulista as the official candidate for the presidential election of March 1930 after an earlier promise that the new chief executive would come from Minas Gerais. Minas Gerais politicians felt betrayed by this action and broke the traditional alliance of the two states. Led by Antônio Carlos de Andrada, they threw their support to a reluctant presidential opposition candidate, Getúlio Vargas, in the 1930 presidential race. Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul formed a political alliance with the tiny northeastern state of Paraíba to oppose the official paulista candidate, Júlio Prestes. This new political group, called the Liberal Alliance, opposed the traditional Republican Party of Brazil, which controlled the seventeen other states. Vargas, an astute political realist, doubted the voting power of the three-state Liberal Alliance.

The presidential campaign was traditional, and though Brazil was in an economic crisis, Vargas did not mount a populist crusade. He campaigned in a low-keyed manner against political corruption, favored amnesty for the 1922 and 1924 military rebels, and pushed for a reorganization of the federal Justice and Education departments. He privately assured President Luís that if he, Vargas, lost the race he would support the victor unconditionally.

During the campaign the world market price of coffee dropped to less than five cents a pound (from its high of twenty-three cents in 1928). This change profoundly affected the financial structure of the nation, as the president spent great sums of federal funds to support the coffee export price and prevent the collapse of the paulista coffee economy.

The election, held 1 March 1930, came out as predicted by Vargas. Although he was very popular, the franchise was extremely limited, and Prestes won with just over 1 million votes to Vargas's 750,000. In Rio Grande do Sul, one of Vargas's closest advisers, Oswaldo Aranha, claimed that Prestes's victory had been obtained fraudulently and declared that the time had come for an armed rebellion.

Active revolutionary plotting began in Rio Grande do Sul and soon spread through the rest of Brazil as economic conditions continued to deteriorate. Military dissidents—most notably the group of tenentes who had led rebellions against political corruption in 1922 and 1924—were contacted. The revolution broke on 3 October, and by 24 October the country was securely in the rebels' hands. Luís and Prestes went into exile, and the Vargas forces took over.

In the fifteen years the Vargas forces remained in control of the nation, they temporarily shifted economic and political power away from São Paulo and Minas Gerais. The new wave of politicians also increased the role of the government in the nation's economic life.

See alsoVargas, Getúlio Dornelles .


Thomas E. Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, 1930–1964 (1967).

Jordan M. Young, The Brazilian Revolution of 1930 and the Aftermath (1967).

Boris Fausto, A revolução de 1930 (1970).

Peter Flynn, Brazil: A Political Analysis (1978).

Additional Bibliography

Dulles, John W.F. Sobral Pinto, "the Conscience of Brazil": Leading the Attack against Vargas (1930–1945.) Austin: University of Texas, 2002.

Hentschke, Jens R. Vargas and Brazil: New Perspectives. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006.

Meade, Theresa. A Brief History of Brazil. New York: Facts on File, 2003.

Prestes, Anita Leocádia. Da insurreiçao armada, 1935 a união nacional, 1938–1945: A virada táctica na política do PCB. São Paulo: Paz e Terra, 2001.

Ribeiro, José Augusto. A era Vargas. Rio de Janeiro: Casa Jorge, 2001.

Rose, R.S. One of the Forgotten Things: Getúlio Vargas and Brazilian Social Control, 1930–1954. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Williams, Daryle. Culture Wars in Brazil: The First Vargas Regime, 1930–1945. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001.

                                         Jordan M. Young

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Revolution of 1930

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