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The Cambridge History of Latin America
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  • Volume 9: Brazil since 1930
  • Edited by Leslie Bethell, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC

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Book description

The Cambridge History of Latin America, the first large-scale authoritative survey of Latin American history from ca. 1500 to the present day, is a work of international collaborative scholarship. It aims to provide a high-level synthesis of existing knowledge in chapters written by leading scholars in their fields. Each chapter is accompanied by a bibliographical essay. Volume 9: Brazil since 1930 is the final volume of the 12 volume History to be published. It examines the profound political, economic, and social changes experienced by Brazil in the 70 years from 1930 to the present day. Part I consists of four chapters on politics in Brazil: 1930–45, 1945–64, 1964–85, and 1985–2002. Part II consists of three chapters on the Brazilian economy: 1930–80, 1980–94, and 1994–2004, and one chapter on social continuity and social change in Brazil from 1930 to 2000.


'In-depth information … Worthwhile.'

Source: American Reference Books Annual

'This recently published volume in the Cambridge History of Latin America series offers an in-depth survey of Brazilian economic and political history from 1930 to the present … the chapters' main strength throughout this volume is the plethora of statistical information, data, and graphs, which will be indispensable to students, researchers, and lecturers.'

M. E. Kehren Source: Choice

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  • 1 - Politics in Brazil Under Vargas, 1930–1945
    pp 1-86
  • View abstract
    The fifteen years between the Revolution of October-November 1930 that brought the First Republic to an end and the military coup of October 1945 that ended the Estado Novo. A period dominated by Getúlio Vargas who was president throughout, were a watershed in the political, economic and social history of Brazil. The Revolution of 1930 proved to be more than simply a shift in the balance of power between landed regional elites, and in particular the arrival in power of the gaúchos for the first time in the federal capital, Rio de Janeiro. The political forces that came to power with Getúlio Vargas in November 1930 were extremely heterogeneous, indeed antagonistic. There was considerable potential for future conflict and struggle over power. The post-war conjuncture offered an opportunity to transform the Estado Novo into some form of democracia social. It could be 'democratisation' with the minimum of rupture.
  • 2 - Politics in Brazil under the Liberal Republic, 1945–1964
    pp 87-164
  • View abstract
    The democratisation of Brazil in 1945-1946 was part of a Latin America, wide, indeed worldwide, wave of democratisation at the end of the Second World War. The União Democrática Nacional (UDN) provides the civilian support for the military coup in 1964 which ended Brazil's postwar democracy. General Eurico Gaspar Dutra, who had served as Minister of War, assumed the presidency of democratic Brazil on 31 January 1946. Like Dutra, Vargas appointed one minister from the Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro. The immediate aftermath of Vargas's suicide under pressure from the military to resign was a series of crises in civil-military relations that threatened to end Brazil's first experiment with democracy after less than a decade. President Joao Cafe Filho, who as vice-president had little influence in the Vargas administration, found it easier to deal with the UDN. The military leaders of the coup and the leading civilian state governors finally settled on General Castelo Branco as the best choice for president.
  • 3 - Politics in Brazil Under Military Rule, 1964–1985
    pp 165-230
    • By Leslie Bethell, Celso Castro, Director, Centro de Pesquisa e Documentaçãao de História Contemporâ Brasil, Fundação Getulio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro
  • View abstract
    For twenty-one years, until the transition to civilian rule in March 1985, Brazilians lived under authoritarian military rule. During this period a succession of five presidents, all of them senior generals, were first selected by the military high command and then indirectly elected, a majority of whose members were guaranteed to support the military's chosen candidate. The 1964 golpe began early in the morning of 31March with the deployment of troops of the fourth Infantry division of the military region of Juiz de Fora under the command of General Olímpio Mourão Filho from Minas Gerais towards Rio de Janeiro. Institutional Act no. 5 was 'a coup within the coup'. The attempt to establish new political institutions under the 1967 Constitution, the 'institutionalisation' of the 'Revolution', collapsed. A new phase of the military regime began with the inauguration of General Ernesto Geisel, two weeks before the tenth anniversary of the 1964 golpe which first brought the military to power.
  • 4 - Politics in Brazil, 1985–2002
    pp 231-280
    • By Leslie Bethell, Jairo Nicolau, Associate Professor of Political Science, Instituto Universitário de Pesquisas do Rio de Janeiro, Universidade Candido Mendes
  • View abstract
    It was the Vice-President-Elect, José Sarney, who became the first civilian president of Brazil in more than two decades. President José Sarney at the outset of his administration chose to work with the ministers he had inherited from Tancredo Neves. The economy was out of control: during the month of February, the Sarney administration's last month in office, inflation reached 84 percent. Moreover, since Fernando Collor de Mello came to power in the final year of the Congress elected in 1986 Collor's parliamentary base was very weak. Itamar Franco formally assumed the presidency for the remaining two years of Collor's term. Fernando Henrique Cardoso became president on 1 January 1995 in conditions more favourable than those encountered by his immediate predecessors. Fifteen years after the transition from military to civilian rule, Brazil could unquestionably be counted a fully fledged, consolidated and stable democracy.
  • 5 - The Brazilian Economy, 1930–1980
    pp 281-394
  • View abstract
    In a long-term perspective, 1980 is clearly a turning point for the Brazilian economy. Almost fifty years of continuous growth, which had placed Brazil among the top achievers in the world economy during this period, came to an end. Industry had gained much ground in relation to agriculture and the composition of exports was diversified away from commodities. Brazil's share of world exports had contracted, imports as a share of gross domestic product had become almost insignificant, and state-owned enterprises had crowded out private capital. The crisis of the strategy based on inward-looking policies and state intervention was to a large extent the crisis of a strategy which took shape in the 1930s and 1940s. Rent-seeking activities which had been growth-enhancing in the past became growth-hindering. The other important element of the Brazilian economic crisis was the inability of the government to deal with growing macroeconomic disequilibria.
  • 6 - The Brazilian Economy, 1980–1994
    pp 395-430
  • View abstract
    The period between 1980 and 1994 should be seen as a transitional period following the particularly severe balance-of-payments and debt crisis at the beginning of the 1980s. This developed into a deep financial crisis affecting all levels of public finance. With very high inflation becoming chronic and accelerating there were repeated stabilisation attempts, using first orthodox, then more heterodox policies. The Cruzado Plan was the first in a series of attempted stabilisation plans which, in contrast with past plans, included features that indicated a radical change in the explanation of the causes of inflation. The most important development of Brazilian commercial policy in the early 1990s was the creation of Mercosul, Mercado Comum do Sul. The intended way ahead was to maintain stabilisation and at the same time implement a comprehensive program of reforms that would make possible a return to steady and significant economic growth together with an improvement of social conditions.
  • 7 - The Brazilian Economy, 1994–2004: An Interim Assessment
    pp 431-454
  • View abstract
    The Brazilian economic agenda after the successful introduction of the Plano Real in July 1994 continued to be dominated by efforts to stabilise the economy. This chapter focuses on the evolution of macroeconomic policies and the constraints they faced under the two administrations of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Under the Cardoso administrations, efforts to deepen the programme of economic reforms started in the early 1990s were uneven. Privatisation advanced beyond manufacturing to reach public utilities, raising complex regulatory problems not always well solved. Deterioration of the balance-of-payments position in early 1995 provided a platform for active promotion of a reversal of trade liberalisation by the desenvolvimentistas. Financial markets were unsurprisingly uneasy and disbelieving, far from convinced of Lula's change of course. For the country, the success of the Lula administration's newly adopted economic policy meant a very promising change.
  • 8 - Brazilian Society: Continuity and Change, 1930–2000
    pp 455-544
    • By Nelson do Valle Silva, Professor of Sociology, Instituto Universitário de Pesquisas do Rio de Janeiro, Universidade Candido Mendes
  • View abstract
    Brazil entered the twenty-first century facing an agenda of problems rooted both in its distant and more recent past. Most notably, the country remained one of the most unequal in the world in terms of income distribution and still contained an unacceptably high level of poverty in its towns and cities. Starting from a high level, the legacy of a tradition of slavery, the modernisation of Brazilian society during the second half of the twentieth century consistently increased economic inequality which peaked at the end of the 1980s, and only started to fall slightly after the adoption of the Plano Real in 1994. One important element reinforcing social inequality in Brazil is the extremely unequal education system. Cash-transfer schemes may improve the situation of poor families but will not eliminate poverty. Job creation is essential if modern urban poverty is to be confronted.
  • Bibliographical Essays
    pp 545-590
  • View abstract
    This bibliography presents a list of titles that help the reader to understand the Latin American history from 1500 to the present day. The political system of the First Republic, which entered its final phase with the presidential succession crisis of 1929-1930, was based on the Constitution of 1891, promulgated while Brazil was still under military rule following the overthrow of Emperor Dom Pedro II in November 1889. Throughout the period of the First Republic 65-70 percent of economically active Brazilians were employed in agriculture, cattle-raising and rural industries and lived in small towns and in the countryside. Elections for governor, state assembly and both houses of Congress were for the most part controlled in each state of the federation by a single statewide Republican party. The democratisation of Brazil in 1945-1946 was part of a Latin America, wide, indeed worldwide, wave of democratisation at the end of the Second World War.


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