who won? national culture under vargas
Summarily deposed from office in a bloodless coup, Getúlio Vargas
and his cabinet beat a hasty retreat to their home states in the final
three days of October 1945. In a preview of things to come, the army high
command remained in Rio, coordinating the regime change. Liberals re-
joiced at the end of the dictatorship. The press, smarting from years of cen-
sorship and government intervention, compared the Estado Novo to the
totalitarian regimes recently defeated in Europe. Busts of Vargas adorn-
ing Rio’s public squares were torn down from their pedestals, completing
a cycle of symbolic violence that began on 27 November 1937 when the
flags of each state were ceremonially burned to symbolize the dawn of a
New State and a New Brazil. Vargas brooded at his ranch in São Borja, Rio
Grande do Sul, receiving word that he might be stripped of his political
The Vargas regime of renovação had, apparently, been defeated. Or
had it?
As the December 2 presidential elections approached, the União Demo-
crática Nacional (National Democratic Union, udn) threw its support be-
hind Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, in hopes that the high-ranking Air Force
officer would reverse fifteen years of authoritarian rule. udn supporters
savored the prospect that Gomes would coordinate a return to liberal con-
stitutionalism, the restitution of individual rights, and the devolution of re-
gional and corporate rights that the federal government had amassed since
the Revolution of 1930. The Partido Social Democrático (Social Demo-
cratic Party, psd), founded by regional elites once allied with the Estado
Novo regime, held more limited hopes for its candidate, former Minister
of War General Eurico Dutra. The psd also embraced the return to con-
stitutional rule, although the party appeared more willing to maintain a
strong state presence in national life. Dutra’s longtime association with the
Estado Novo and lack of personal charisma were liabilities in a new era
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