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History of Brazil - Century XX

1889-1930 - Period known as Republica Velha, or Old Republic. The states of Minas Gerais and Sao Paulo had political predominance; these states elected, alternately, all the Presidents of this period. The economy was heavily based on coffee; with the crash of New York in 1929, the economy took a deep dive.

1904 First massive Health campaign in Brazil. The entire city of Rio de Janeiro should be vaccinated against yellow fever; the population was against the compulsory vaccination. The coordinator of the campaign, sanitarist Oswaldo Cruz, gained historic recognition.

1917-1922 Much influenced by the immigrants, industry commences to flourish. This caused a significant change in Brazilian society, which used to be dominated by aristocratic rural classes and was now seeing the raising of a more dynamic urban burgeois class.

1922 In a movement known as tenentismo, the lower officials of Army manifest their dissatisfaction with the governmental policies; it was another sign that the Brazilian middle class wanted to have a more important political role.

1930-1945 After the crash of 1929, came the rupture with the old rural model. Via coup d'Etat, Getulio Vargas took the power and began a government based on populism, targetet to the urban, industrial society. Read more about Getulio Vargas

Nov. 11th, 1937 Getulio Vargas establishes the "New State", a totalitarian regime, by outorgating a new constitution. This constitution was based on the fascist regime, and according to Ministry of Justice Francisco Campos, who wrote the text, the intention was to keep the nation "free from the vices of liberal democracy".

1942 Brazil joins Allies and goes to World War II. After five merchant ships were torpedoed by German submarines, popular pressure obliged the Brazilian government to send troops to Europe.

1945 With the re-democratization wave which swept the world after the end of the war, Vargas could not stand in power and called for elections. The elections were won by Eurico Gaspar Dutra.

1946 A new constitution is voted. After years of autoritarism, the new constitution is very liberal.

1947 Brazil keeps close relationship with USA. By American influence, Brazilian government decrees the ilegality of the Communist Party, intervenes in unions, halts diplomatic relationship with Soviet Union.

1950 Getúlio Vargas returns to Presidency, this time elected by the population. During this term, among other achievements, he created Petrobras, created the Bank of Economic Development, estimulated the unions.

1954 Vargas can't stand the pressure of oppositors and commits suicide.

1955 Juscelino Kubitschek is elected President and starts a period of fast economic growth. Juscelino created a Plan of Goals, aiming at "growing fifty years in five"; car makers were estimulated to come to Brazil; he started and finished the building of the new capital, Brasilia, inaugurated on April 22 1960.

1961 Janio Quadros is elected successor of Juscelino. Alleging "hidden forces", Janio resigns shortly after; vice-President Joao Goulart takes office. By the law, citizens had to vote separately to President and vice, which allowed the possibility that President and vice were from different parties; as indeed happened, Janio and Joao Goulart were of opposite political views: the former was conservative (he passed a law forbidding women to wear bikinis), the later was progressist.

April 1st 1964 Contestint Goulart's administration, the military took the power; another dictatorship was established in Brazil.

1967 The sixth Brazilian constitution is outorgated by the military regime.

1968 A student is killed for protesting against the government. Church and citizens organize a parade 100 thousand strong. Workers start strikes. In response, the militaries shut down the Congress, and via Institutional Act 5, the dirty war against opposition was formalized.

1969-1974 Government of General Garrastazu Medici; the most brutal period of the dictatorship. The Army exterminated guerrillas, terrorists were tortured, all media was censored. The country sees an economic boom.

1974-1979 General Ernesto Geisel takes office and starts a slow redemocratization process. In the words of General Golberi do Couto e Silva, Geisel's lieutenant, the process should be slow, gradual and steady forward.
1980s Brazil returns to democracy. In 1982, the oppositionist party wins most state elections. In 1984, when a law was being voted to reinstate direct elections for President, crowds took over many Brazilian cities. Crushed by the foreigner debt and the spike of international interest rates, Brazilian economy slumps.

1985 The last military president, Joao Figueiredo, turns power to elected (by Congress) Tancredo Neves, putting an end to the military period. Tancredo falls fatally ill and never takes office. The vice-president, Jose Sarney, commences his six years government.

1985- 1989 The transition to democracy is consolidated. A new constitution is promulgated in 1988, and is dubbed the "Citizen Constitution" because it supposedly was returning to the citizens the rights which had been taken by the totalitarian regime. This constitution has been proving to have been too generous, as several ammendments have been made necessary. The inflation starts an upwards spiral; the first of a series of heterodox economic plan is laid out: the Plano Cruzado, of 1986, had as principal measure the freezing of all prices and salaries.

1990 Direct elections for President. The winner, after a second round, was Fernando Collor de Mello; the runner up was Luis Inacio Lula da Silva. The first act of Collor's was to confiscate most money of current and savings accounts (only a pre-determined amount could be withdrawn); this plan failed, and inflation continued its upward trend.

1992 President Collor is charged of corruption. The congress institutes an Investigation Comission, which finds evidences of corruption. The population takes the streets, asking for impeachment. Collor tries to resign before being judged by the Senate, but he is impeached anyway. Vice President Itamar Franco takes office.

1994 Itamar Franco appoints senator and then chanceller Fernando Henrique Cardoso as the Ministry of Finances. Fernando Henrique Cardoso undertakes the job to combat inflation, which had been growing for about twenty years. The Plano Real, devised and implemented by FHC and his team, succeed in taming inflation and keeping economic growth; read more about the Real Plan. FHC wins the presidential election, against Luis Inacio Lula da Silva.

1995- 1998 The sociologist FHC, to improve on the results of Plano Real, takes economic measures which were criticized by socialist parties. Among such measures: privatization of several state companies, including Telebras, siderurgic mills, Embraer and others; Petrobras lost the oil monopoly; reestructuration of civil service. Read more about Fernando Henrique Cardoso

1998 Fernando Henrique Cardoso is reelected for another four years term. The runner up is, again, Lula; this time, FHC won in the first round.

1998 - 2002 FHC's second term was much affected by external crises (Asia, Russia, World Trade Center, Argentina). The dollar, which was kept pegged to the dollar during the first term, suffered and abrupt devaluation. The inner debt became a burden, and measures were taken to put the debt under control; the government cut investments and expenses, changed the Social Security system, changed further the civil service legislation. In 2001, the country faces a shortage of electricity supply.

Century XXI

2.002 In his fourth attempt, Lula wins the presidencial election. The Party of Workers reaches the highest power for the first time. Domestic and international attentions are turned to the first leftist elected government in Brazil. Read more

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