USM Open Source History Text: The World at War: World History 1914-1945

1937: Fall of the Constitutional State in Brazil

In 1937, Vargas – still backed by the armed forces – ended the liberal constitutional state and assumed dictatorial powers. He announced plans to move Brazil from an agricultural economy to an industrializing one. His plan, the Estado Novo or New State, was similar to the plans we have seen in Russia and Germany in the 1930s, a huge government top-down push to transform the national economy. Like in Russia and Germany, this economic and social reform had authoritarian elements. In the Estado Novo, Vargas dissolved the Brazilian legislature, forbade the existence of political parties, and operated strict censorship on the mass media. Contrary to the traditions of regionalism in Brazilian politics, Vargas set out to centralize power. He stripped the regional rulers of their authority and autonomy and replaced them with appointees who came directly from the national level. The police became a domestic military force – operating to brutally suppress dissent.

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