Part 1: A Divided City
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    Part 1: A Divided City

    Throughout practicaly all of Porto Alegre's republican history, most of its inhabitants had very little say in how the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul was run. During the Old Republic, its mayors, like pretty much all other politicians of the period, took power through fraudulent elections, an environment which reached its logical conclusion with the rise and administration of José Montaury, who ran the city for 27 years straight and was reelected seven times, five of which as the only candidate on the ballot (1). The years that succeeded the Revolution of 1930 weren't that much better regarding political rights either, since even though the citizens freely elected their councillors in the periods between 1934 to 1937 (when the Estado Novo began and all legislatures were abolished) and from 1947 onward (two years after democracy was restored), the mayor was still appointed by the state governor.

    That would end in 1951.

    For the first time ever, the chief of the executive of the city would be elected by the people, and there were two men who desired to become the first to receive such an honor.​

    ildo meneghetti.jpg

    The first candidate was Ildo Meneghetti. Born in 1895 to two Italian immigrants, Meneghetti became an engineer and entrepreneur, his career as an elected official only beginning in 1947 when he was elected to the City Council as a member of PSD (the Social Democratic Party, which was quite conservative despite its name). One year after that, he was appointed to the mayoralty by governor Walter Jobim, serving until February 1951, when Jobim's successor, Ernesto Dornelles, removed him. Not only did his mayoral tenure, which was marked by multiple important infrastructure and social housing projects, turn him into someone who was fondly remembered by the people, he had before that been president of Sport Club Internacional (one of Rio Grande do Sul's major football teams, together with its arch-rival Grêmio), which enhanced his fame and popularity.​

    brizola 1951.jpg

    His adversary was Leonel Brizola. Born in 1922 (being, therefore, almost thirty years younger than Meneghetti) to a poor peasant family in what is now the municipality of Carazinho, Brizola lost his father at a very young age to one of the many civil wars and rebellions that shook RS during the Old Republic, which worsened the hardships he and his relatives had to face during his childhood. Taking on a variety of menial jobs after moving to Porto Alegre, such as polishing shoes, he eventually graduated in civil engineering, but never worked in the field since he immediately entered electoral politics by campaigning for and winning a seat in the State Assembly in 1947. A member of PTB (the Brazilian Labour Party), he was easily reelected in 1950 and became a rising star in the party. Young, handsome and extremely charismatic, Brizola was backed by president Getúlio Vargas and, most importantly, governor Ernesto Dornelles.

    It didn't take long for the race to take national proportions. The UDN (National Democratic Union), the strongest and most radical opposition party, endorsed Meneghetti in the hope of handing the president a stinging and very personal defeat in the capital of his home state. On the other side, governor Dornelles used the state's public apparatus to give Brizola an unfair advantage, a practice that, although already illegal at the time, was so common that no one batted an eye. The campaign went on for months and mobilized huge crowds for both sides, and a growing feeling of uneasiness descended upon the city as election day approached.

    Until November 1 finally arrived, and scores upon scores of voters went to their polling stations to cast their ballots in secret. No one had any idea of who would win, since opinion polls weren't a thing back then and both candidates had run very good campaigns. Hours later, the poll workers began to count the thousands of votes that had been cast one by one, and the numbers were slowly announced by radio news stations piece by piece. As the time passed, however, one thing became clear: Brizola and Meneghetti were only a few hundred votes away from each other, a microscopic difference considering that Porto Alegre's electorate numbered in the tens of thousands.

    Hours became days, and soon enough the entire country was biting its nails in anticipation. The final result was announced on November 9, eight days after the election took place, and they showed just how polarized the capital of Rio Grande do Sul was:​

    • Leonel de Moura Brizola - 41.271 votes;​
    • Ildo Meneghetti - 40.823 votes.​
    Brizola, who was just 448 votes ahead of Meneghetti, became the first democractically elected mayor of Porto Alegre (2). He was inaugurated in January 1, 1952, days away from his thirtieth birthday, and soon after he set about fulfilling the enormous task ahead of him: not only did he have to urgently heal the huge political divide caused by the election, but he needed to tackle the multiple chronic issues the capital of the gaúchos suffered from (lack of schools, insufficient infrastructure and public sanitation, among others) head on.

    After receiving news of the young man's victory, Getúlio supposedly remarked to an aide: "Ha, I knew that kid would go far!"

    He would go very far indeed.​


    (1) Montaury's counterpart in the state level was Borges de Medeiros, a dictator who ruled Rio Grande do Sul with an iron fist from 1898 to 1928, when he finally stepped down and was succeeded as governor by Getúlio Vargas.

    (2) This is the POD. IOTL Brizola lost to Meneghetti by around one thousand votes. He would eventually become mayor in 1955, governor of RS in 1958, and the rest is history. Here, his political career is sped up significantly.

    So this is my second TL focusing on Brazil, and just like my first one, Brizola will be a central character in it. I'm more mature now than I was two years ago (when the first TL was written) so hopefully this one's writing will be better since my first work left a bad taste in my mouth because, looking back, it was too much like a "guys I like win, guys I dislike lose" scenario.
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    Part 2: Two Stars
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    Part 2: Two Stars

    For Porto Alegre and its young mayor, the two year period between 1952 and 1954 was an extremely prosperous one. Brizola immediately tackled the multiple chronic issues that affected the capital of Rio Grande do Sul with the seemingly limitless energy that people would soon know him for throughout his long political career. Though the City Council was controlled by the opposition (PTB had a plurality of the seats, but not an absolute majority), he could count on a friendly state and federal governments, since both were controlled by fellow petebistas, and thus it was easy for him to pressure the municipal legislature into voting for the projects he presented. Generously funded by his higher ups in the political ladder, the mayor embarked on a series of public works projects that would noticeably improve Porto Alegre's standard of living, with new roads being paved, electricity and running water being extended to neighborhoods that were until then deprived of these essential services, and hundreds of new public houses being built. All in the span of two and a half years (1).
    brizola getulio.jpg

    Brizola (with sunglasses) having an informal chat with president Getúlio Vargas.

    There was, however, one area that was the municipal government's top priority by far: public education. With the very telling motto of "Nenhuma Criança Sem Escola" ("No Child Out of School"), the mayoral administration built 135 new schools, large and small, throughout Porto Alegre, and the population was mobilized to directly assist the government in this monumental endeavor through mutirões (large numbers of volunteers who work together to achieve a common goal). With so many feats being accomplished in such a short period of time, Brizola quickly became an extremely popular figure, and solidified his reputation as a promising young member of PTB.

    Thus, his declaration during an interview in late 1953 that he intended to run for governor in the following year's state election surprised no one.


    While his follower's star glowed ever brighter, Getúlio's grew increasingly dim. The president had already governed Brazil for fifteen years straight (1930-1945), and was still immensely popular among the ordinary people, but it was clear to everyone in his inner circle that he, now in his early seventies, was losing his touch. The elderly gaúcho had, nominally speaking, a majority in both houses of the legislature, with PSD and PTB, two parties he directly participated in the foundation of, having most of the sitting deputies and senators. Unfortunately, not only did his long years as a dictator (1930-34 and 1937-45) leave him unused to negotiating and dealing with criticism when it sprung up, but PSD's status as a big tent party (it was overall a centrist party with some progressive elements, but some parts of it were extremely conservative) made this task even more difficult. Thus, while PTB stood for him through thick and thin, PSD was only somewhat reliable.

    As if that weren't enough, the president inherited an economy that was in very bad shape since his predecessor, Eurico Gaspar Dutra, adopted an economic policy that burned most of Brazil's foreign reserves, which had been carefully built up during Getúlio's previous tenure thanks to WWII. Inflation began to rise, and as hundreds of thousands of industrial workers saw their wages' worth erode, strikes became more frequent, with the greatest of them all taking place in the city of São Paulo in March 1953, which counted with the participation of 300.000 workers.

    Before (1930-45) and after (1951-54).

    This tumultuous scenario was eagerly exploited by UDN, especially its most radical members, who were organized in a group known as the "Banda de Música" ("Music Band", a reference to their constant, aggressive rhetoric). Men such as Afonso Arinos, Aliomar Baleeiro and, most importantly, Carlos Lacerda (who wasn't an elected politician yet, but a journalist and owner of Tribuna da Imprensa, an important newspaper) not only regularly accused the government of corruption and incompetence, but secretly conspired with right-wing members of the military to overthrow it by force. In this they were covertly aided by the government of the United States, which, thanks to the ongoing Cold War, was extremely paranoid of any Latin American nation that was not completely submissive to its interests.

    Afonso Arinos, "maestro" of the Banda de Música as well as the author of the first law to prohibit racial discrimination.

    Despite these difficulties, Getúlio pursued a bold, nationalist agenda, which predictably only antagonized the US (presided by Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Cold Warrior to the core) even further. Petrobras, the famous state owned corporation which is today a symbol of Brazilian pride, was founded in 1953, and had a monopoly on extraction, refinement of petroleum and all its derivatives, to the ire of companies such as Texaco and Standard Oil of New Jersey. The BNDE (National Economic Development Bank) and Eletrobras (which had a monopoly on all matters regarding electric power) were also founded during this time, and would play a critical role in financing and coordinating Brazil's development in the following decades (2).

    But these victories weren't enough to reverse the ongoing crisis, and as 1954 dawned the situation became critical. João Goulart (best known as Jango), Minister of Labour and another bright, promising young member of PTB, proposed a radical solution to put off the constant strikes, which paralyzed the national economy, for good: a 100% increase of the minimum wage. Getúlio accepted it, but UDN, the conservative wing of PSD and much of the army, predictably, did not, and while the increase was implemented, the president had no choice but to fire Jango in order to placate them. On the foreign front, the botched coup against the democratically elected government of Jacobo Árbenz in Guatemala, which was practically an US invasion of said country, sparked a surge of anti-American sentiment throughout Latin America, and Brazil was affected by said wave, making Washington all the more anxious (3).

    But if the situation was already bad now, it was about to get one hell of a lot worse. On August 5, 1954, a hired gunman ambushed Lacerda outside his home in Rio de Janeiro, and although he failed to murder his primary target (in fact, Lacerda was only grazed in the foot) he did manage to kill his bodyguard Rubens Florentino Vaz, an Air Force major, something that outraged the Armed Forces for obvious reasons. An enormous manhunt, followed by an equally gigantic investigation, ensued, and the primary suspect of ordering the attack, Gregório Fortunato, chief of the president's personal guard, confessed to the crime.

    A Tribuna da Imprensa headline demanding Getúlio Vargas' resignation.
    The calls for the president to resign, which were already quite common by this time, grew deafening. The entire press, with the sole exception of Última Hora, owned by Samuel Wainer, went on the offensive against the government, and Afonso Arinos, who had already led a failed attempt to impeach him in June, made a famous speech three days after the attack in which he declared that the Vargas administration sat atop a "sea of mud and blood". But Getúlio stood firm and refused to do so, and as the days went by it became clear that a military coup was imminent, and nothing could be done to stop it.

    Nothing, except for one thing.

    In the morning of August 24, after meeting with his cabinet for the last time, Getúlio Dornelles Vargas shot himself in the heart with a revolver in the bedroom of the Catete Palace, the president's official residence. Though his family and friends rushed into the scene as soon as they heard the gunshot sound, by the time they arrived it was too late, and in a matter of hours the entire country learned of the president's tragic death.

    He was seventy-two years old.


    (1) I know this looks like a wank, but I swear it's not. IOTL Brizola was an extremely effective mayor of Porto Alegre during his short tenure (1956-58), and that was with a hostile governor (Ildo Meneghetti, who defeated him in 1951 and was elected governor in 1954) directly above him.

    (2) IOTL Getúlio tried to found Eletrobras during his second administration, but the opposition to it was so intense that it was only became a reality in 1962. ITTL Brizola's victory in 1951 means Getúlio's position in Rio is a *little* stronger.

    (3) We'll take a closer look at this turn of events later :D.​
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    Part 3: 1954 Elections
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    Part 3: 1954 Elections

    As the wealthiest state in Brazil, São Paulo was unsurprisingly an extremely juicy target in this year's gubernatorial elections, and the person who resided in the Palace of the Elysian Fields (the governor's residence) wielded enormous political power. Since the days of the Estado Novo, one man in particular was very, very powerful indeed: Ademar Pereira de Barros. Having already served as governor twice (1938-41 and 1947-51), he wanted a third term, not only to maintain his power, fame and prestige among the paulistas, but also to use the state as a launchpad from which he could run for the presidency. Having presided over the construction of many, many infrastructure works during both of his administrations (especially highways), Ademar was a fondly remembered man as well as the frontrunner of the race by a fair margin (1).

    However, although powerful, he was not invincible, and he had made a formidable enemy: the incumbent governor, Lucas Nogueira Garcez, who had been elected in 1950 with his help but broke off with him soon after his inauguration, desiring to be more than just a pawn. Hoping to keep his former patron from returning, Garcez endorsed Francisco Prestes Maia, former mayor of São Paulo (having run the affairs of the city from 1938 to 1945, practically the entire length of the Estado Novo) and a member of UDN. Having already run for the gubernatorial seat in 1950 and won only 24,55% of the vote (the smallest percentage out of three candidates), Prestes Maia was now in a much stronger position than before since he could count on the state apparatus to support his campaign.

    But that wasn't all, for a third candidate showed up: the bombastic mayor of the city of São Paulo, Jânio Quadros. Having been elected mayor of said city in an immense upset, Jânio now desired the governorship for himself. Adopting the broom as his personal symbol, and armed with an aggressive and demagogic rhetoric, he promised to sweep the state's problems and corrupt politicians away, and soon enough gathered a sizable following.

    By election day he stood toe to toe with Ademar, and Prestes Maia was once again relegated to the third place.
    Jânio Adhemar Nássara 1954.jpg

    While Ademar had an enormous financial advantage, Jânio could count on a legion of supporters, portrayed here as flying brooms.

    São Paulo 1954.PNG

    Ademar prevailed - barely. The divided opposition (who, combined, had a whooping 60,52% of all ballots cast) allowed him to squeak past Jânio by less than twenty thousand votes. Nevertheless, the veteran politician could not afford to rest on his laurels, for the political machine he so carefully created and grew from 1938 onward was clearly in grave danger. His presidential ambitions would have to wait (2).


    Another state run by a long lasting political machine was Rio de Janeiro - which should not be confused with the city of Rio de Janeiro, which is the Federal District, a separate administrative unit - which was dominated by Ernâni do Amaral Peixoto, who governed the state directly from 1937 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. He was a member of PSD, Brazil's main centrist-to-conservative political party of the time, as well as Getúlio Vargas' son-in-law, having married his daughter Alzira in 1939.

    But just like Ademar in São Paulo, Amaral was far from unbeatable, and unlike his grander counterpart to the west he wouldn't be able to maintain control by the skin of his teeth.

    The opposition candidate was a radical udenista named Tenório Cavalcanti. Born in 1906 to an extremely poor family from the interior of Alagoas, Cavalcanti moved to Rio and from there to Duque de Caxias in 1926 and 1927, respectively, where he became a farm administrator and was involved in numerous shootouts and murders, becoming known as an expert gunslinger. He first got into politics by being elected to the local City Council in 1935, but lost his seat two years later when the Estado Novo abolished all legislatures throughout the country. He returned to elected office in 1947, becoming a member of the State Assembly, and three years later he won a seat in the Chamber of Deputies, quickly joining the ranks of UDN's Banda de Música.

    By 1954 he was a living legend, directly involved in all sorts of spectacular incidents, the most famous of which was the assassination of Albino Imparato, a police chief and agent of the state government he so despised, in August 1953. Highly charismatic, wearing a long black cape that hid a submachine gun he named "Lurdinha", always surrounded by allies and goons, and living in a fortified house, Tenório was feared and admired by the people of the Baixada Fluminense, his political stronghold.


    Tenório Cavalcanti at the height of his power.

    His opponent, Miguel Couto Filho (PSD), was a nonentity compared to him, even though he too had a long political career, having been elected to the State Assembly in 1935 and then to the Chamber of Deputies in 1945, taking part in the many negotiations of the Constituent Assembly after the end of the Estado Novo.

    He never stood a chance.
    Rio de Janeiro 1954.PNG

    But while UDN's victory was decisive, it was not a complete one, since Couto's running mate, Roberto Silveira (PTB) won his race by a very wide margin. The stage was set for four very tumultuous years right on the national capital's doorstep.


    As the birthplace of Getúlio Vargas and de fact nerve center of PTB, it would be easy to assume that the outcome of said state's gubernatorial race was certain. However, the petebistas were not going to repeat the same mistake of the 1947 state election, where their candidate, Alberto Pasqualini, was the frontrunner right until he was unexpectedly defeated by PSD's Walter Jobim by a margin of 20.000 votes. The result of their convention, however, was in fact set in stone the moment Leonel Brizola declared his candidacy, for he won said convention unanimously and was selected as PTB's gubernatorial candidate (3).

    The conservatives, meanwhile, first approached Ildo Meneghetti, who was still a respected figure despite his narrow defeat three years before, but he declined to face Brizola a second time and retired from politics entirely (4). Thus, they rallied behind Euclides Triches, mayor of Caxias do Sul who, because of his position, would likely have very strong results in the rural parts of RS, which were quite conservative compared to the larger cities such as Canoas, Pelotas and, obviously, Porto Alegre.

    Beacause of that, people expected a very close race (both Walter Jobim and Ernesto Dornelles were elected by margins that weren't exactly decisive), but then Brizola made a move that was and still is very controversial to this day.

    He made a deal with the devil.
    plinio salgado.png

    Plínio Salgado.
    Whenever Plínio Salgado, the infamous fascist leader, is talked about, most people assume that he disappeared from the political scene after the rise of the Estado Novo and its dismantling of the AIB (Brazilian Integralist Action), the first and most famous party to be led by him. That isn't well known is that, after the end of Getúlio's dictatorship, he returned from exile and founded a new party, the PRP (People's Representation Party), which, although small nationally speaking, had a disproportionally large number of supporters in the south, especially among people of German and Italian descent. Desiring to get the vote of these communities, Brizola approached Plínio and made an alliance with him, earning extremely harsh criticism from other members and sections of PTB in the process (5).

    Nevertheless, the alliance served its purpose.

    rio grande do sul 1954.PNG

    PTB's victory was complete: not only did Brizola win his race by an overwhelming margin, but the party's candidates for the Senate, João Goulart and Rui Ramos, won their elections as well (6). They also secured an absolute majority of the seats in the RS State Assembly, giving the young new governor plenty of room to turn his multiple and very ambitious projects into reality.


    Before Getúlio Vargas' untimely death, UDN was preparing itself for a truly magnificent victory. With the economy in crisis and an extremely unpopular federal government, they seemed set to perhaps even win a plurality of the seats in the Chamber of Deputies, displacing PSD from its position as Brazil's dominant party.

    The president's suicide changed everything. He left a letter - which was read by a very emotional João Goulart in his burial - in which he basically said that the press' constant smear campaigns, the udenistas and the US government were the reason why he chose to sacrifice his own life. With one bullet, he turned himself from a hated man into a national hero, while simultaneously framing the opposition as his murderers.

    Riots happened. A furious crowd attempted to attack the US embassy in Rio de Janeiro, only being prevented from doing so because of the army's presence there, while local UDN committees and opposition newspapers (only Última Hora, thanks to Samuel Wainer's staunch support of Getúlio, was spared) throughout the country were ransacked. Carlos Lacerda, whose attempt on his life sparked the crisis that led to the death of the Father of the Poor (while the dictator was forgotten), briefly went into exile in order to escape the people's warth.

    o globo.jpg

    Rioters destroying two vans belonging to O Globo, an important conservative newspaper.

    In the end, while UDN did score some important gubernatorial victories (capturing places such as Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Goiás (7)), the real victor of the 1954 elections, by far, was PTB. The number of seats they held in the Chamber of Deputies jumped from 51 to 63 deputies, while they also added and or reelected 9 senators to their ranks in the upper house. Regarding the governorships, they went from having just one governor (Ernesto Dornelles in Rio Grande do Sul) to four (8). While still remaining Brazil's third largest party, it was clearly growing rapidly.

    Chamber of Deputies:

    PSD: 115 seats (+3)
    UDN: 76 seats (-5)
    PTB: 66 seats (+15)
    PSP: 29 seats (+5)
    Minor Parties (PSB, PR, PRP, PDC and so on): 40 seats (+4)

    Senate (two thirds):

    PSD: 21 seats
    UDN: 10 seats
    PTB: 9 seats
    PSP: 2 seats

    (1) Ademar was also quite corrupt, and his supporters, rather than claim he was innocent, instead defended him with the infamous slogan of "rouba, mas faz" ("he steals, but gets things done").

    (2) IOTL, Ademar lost to Jânio and then ran for president in 1955. That won't happen here.

    (3) IOTL PTB selected Alberto Pasqualini a second time (first being in 1947) while Brizola, still a much less prominent figure (since he was defeated in the 1951 mayoral race in Porto Alegre), ran for the Chamber of Deputies.

    (4) As mayor of Porto Alegre, Meneghetti ran for governor and narrowly defeated Pasqualini by a margin of around 30.000 votes IOTL.

    (5) When Brizola ran for governor in 1958 he made this exact same alliance IOTL.

    (6) IOTL, PTB lost ALL statewide races: Pasqualini was defeated by Meneghetti, while Jango and Rui Ramos failed to win a seat in the Senate.

    (7) Races that UDN lost to PSD IOTL.

    (8) PTB elected three governors IOTL since they lost control of Rio Grande do Sul to PSD.
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    Foreign Snapshot: An Island of Freedom
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    Foreign Snapshot: An Island of Freedom

    For decades, the history of Central America, one of the poorest and most unequal regions of the entire continent and the world, was linked in an inseparable manner to the needs and desires of the mighty United Fruit Company, an US corporation which controlled the lucrative banana exports of many countries, not only in Central America but also in Colombia and Ecuador. To ensure its dominance, United Fruit regularly sponsored coups and military dictatorships in the nations it had a strong position in - which were given the unflattering nickname of "banana republics" - and was, in a particularly extreme example, directly responsible for the massacre of perhaps as many as 2.000 striking workers in Colombia in 1928.

    Guatemala was one such banana republic. From 1898 onward, all of its dictators - Manuel Estrada Cabrera, José María Orellana, Lázaro Chacón González and finally Jorge Ubico Castañeda - were closely linked to the UFC, and thus, turned a blind eye to their atrocious labour practices (such as paying starvation wages to their workers and displacing peasants from their lands) and brutally repressed any opposition. But everything changed in 1944, when Ubico was overthrown by a general strike sparked by the murder of María Chinchilla Recinos, a schoolteacher, by the police. The dictator's immediate successor, general Juan Federico Ponce Vaides, was overthrown as well after only a few months in power, being succeeded by a junta led by the army major Francisco Javier Arana, the civilian Jorge Toriello Garrido and the then captain Jacobo Árbenz Guzmán.​


    Árbenz, Toriello and Arana.
    Rather than attempt to hold on to power in an authoritarian manner, as someone would understandably expect, this particular junta instead allowed free and honest elections to be held - the first time in Guatemalan history that such a thing occurred - which were won by Juan José Arévalo, who scored a whooping 86% of the vote. With an overwhelming popular mandate and a majority in Congress, Arévalo set upon a groundbreaking program of social reforms that greatly improved the lives of the urban poor and middle classes, such as a new minimum wage and allowing labour unions to operate.

    However, the president's tenure was not a tranquil one, for he, in his six year term, suffered 25 coup attempts, the most dangerous of which happened in 1949 and was led by none other than Arana himself, who was killed in a shootout with government troops, with his supporters being driven into exile. He also failed to extend the country's new labour rights to the rural areas, where the majority of the population resided, a task that would fall to his successor, Árbenz, who was inaugurated in 1951 after winning the previous year's presidential election with 65% of the vote, beating his closest opponent, Miguel Ydígoras, a close associate of Ubico who was linked to many of the failed coups against Arévalo, by a margin of almost 50 percentage points.

    President Árbenz surrounded by ministers of state.
    Árbenz tackled the agrarian issue almost immediately after taking power, and, in June 1952, passed through Congress the succintly named Decree 900, which allowed the Guatemalan government to confiscate unused land greater than 224 acres and redistribute it to local peasants. By 1954, only two years later, land from as many 1.700 estates had been redistributed to 500.000 families (one sixth of the Guatemalan population), the majority of them indigenous people who had been methodically driven off their lands since the Spanish invasion centuries ago. Naturally, this was an earthquake, one whose effects were felt not only in Guatemala itself but also throughout all of Latin America.

    Unfortunately, while the effects of Decree 900 were overwhelmingly positive, the law also incurred the wrath of a very powerful enemy: the United Fruit Company, which was until then the largest landholder in Guatemala. Already angered by Arévalo's reforms, the UFC actively lobbied the Eisenhower administration to overthrow Árbenz under the justification that he was a communist, a call which was promptly heeded by the US secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, whose brother, Allen Dulles, director of the CIA, just so happened to belong to the company's board of directors.


    President Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles.

    From 1951 (thus, before Decree 900) onward, the US government blocked all arms purchases by the Guatemalan government and took steps to defame and isolate it internationally, a task which was supported by nearby dictators such as Venezuela's Marcos Pérez Jiménez, Nicaragua's Anastasio Somoza García and the Dominican Republic's Rafael Trujillo, who feared that the continued survival of Guatemala's vibrant, reformist democracy would threaten their own power in their respective countries. At the same time, the CIA selected the exiled colonel Carlos Castillo Armas, a protégé of Arana who had a cartoonishly evil mustache, as the leader of a force of 480 men which, by collaborating with US planes flown by mercenaries sowing terror in the countryside, would demoralize the Guatemalan army and turn it against Árbenz.

    A mustache worth a thousand words (1).

    By 1954, the situation had become critical, and Guatemala at this point was, according to the words of the world famous Argentine physician, intellectual and traveler Ernesto Guevara, "a lonely island of freedom surrounded by a sea of blood" (2). Desperate to acquire new weapons for his army, Árbenz authorized the secret purchase of 2.000 tons of arms and munitions from Czechoslovakia, the first time an East Bloc country did such a transaction with a Latin American one, and despite the presence of American naval and air patrols, the trading vessel MS Alfhem arrived in Puerto Barrios unmolested and delivered its cargo. Despite this setback, however, the putschists finally gained the excuse they needed to start their operation, codenamed PBSUCCESS.

    On June 18, 1954, the putschist forces, which had been split into four teams based in neighboring Honduras and El Salvador, crossed the border and invaded Guatemala, their targets being the important port of Puerto Barrios, which would be taken by the largest team, led by Castillo Armas himself, and the cities of Zacapa, Esquipulas and Jutiapa. Unfortunately for them, they immediately came upon many difficulties, with a team being intercepted and detained by Salvadoran policemen before they could invade, while the others didn't have enough adequate transportation and therefore took much longer to reach their targets than planned. Their troubles didn't end even after they did reach said targets, with many of the troops attacking Puerto Barrios fleeing back to Honduras while the 122 men tasked with taking Zacapa were crushingly defeated by a garrison of just 30 Guatemalan soldiers, with all of the attackers being either killed or captured (3).

    A Time magazine cover depicting president Árbenz. Soviet leader Georgy Malenkov is shown in the background as a Mayan god, an obvious attempt
    to link him to the events in Guatemala.

    However, while the land invasion was a huge fiasco, Castillo Armas still had a huge advantage in the air and, most importantly, in propaganda. Planes piloted by mercenaries flew from Managua and bombed several areas, and even if their payload, composed mostly of surplus WW2 bombs and dynamite (and sometimes leaflets attacking the government), didn't to much real damage, they still terrorized a considerable number of citizens into supporting the putschists, while saboteurs blew up bridges, telegraph and railway lines. The invaders' most powerful weapon was a radio station named Radio Liberación, which broadcast anti-government propaganda and greatly inflated the number of troops under Castillo Armas' leadership, which were supposedly made out of thousands of volunteers, rather than the mere hundreds of paid mercenaries and CIA trained operatives he actually had. Said radio station stated that it was broadcasting its information out of somewhere deep in the Guatemalan jungle, when it was actually operated by exiles in Miami.

    Because of this, the Guatemalan army was demoralized and unwilling to fight despite outnumbering and outgunning the putschists massively, especially after the successful weapons purchase from Czechoslovakia. Many generals feared that, in the case Castillo Armas was defeated, the US military would intervene directly with its Marines (as they regularly did in the so called Banana Wars), a war they could never win. However, the Zacapa garrison's crushing victory over an enemy force that outnumbered it by four to one did wonders to raise their spirits, proving that the putschists' bite didn't match up to their bark, as did a similar triumph in Chiquimula, which was successfully defended on June 25 despite mercenary air attacks (4). These repeated setbacks eventually crippled the invaders' morale, for they were prepared for a quick and successful coup, not a prolonged civil war.

    Finally, on July 2, three weeks after operation PBSUCCESS was launched, Carlos Castillo Armas was captured by Guatemalan soldiers outside Los Amates, a city located close to the border with Honduras. With their leader out of action, the last remaining putschists either fled or laid down their arms, and the air raids were finally called off. Árbenz had, at last, prevailed, and in the following days he received calls from multiple foreign governments, including that of Great Britain and France, two members of NATO, congratulating him for his victory (5).

    With his position stronger than ever, president Jacobo Árbenz quickly became a legendary figure throughout all of Latin America, being one of the few leaders who successfully defied the will of the "Colossus of the North". In 1957, after the expiration of his six year term, he peacefully handed power to former president Juan José Arévalo, who easily won the previous year's presidential election. The Revolutionary Action Party, to which both Árbenz and Arévalo belonged, would continue to rule Guatemala for many years to come, protagonizing one of Latin America's most celebrated success stories (6).
    Árbenz guatemala.jpg

    President Árbenz (center, holding a hat) taking part in a state ceremony.
    Back in Washington, the Eisenhower administration was so thoroughly embarrassed by the failure of its blatant attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government that John Foster Dulles resigned his position as Secretary of State on July 15, 1954, publicly for health reasons (he was close to age 70 and would suffer from colon cancer in the coming years) but really to leave the president's image largely intact from the whole fiasco, even though he was the one who greenlit PBSUCCESS in the first place. He was replaced by the incumbent Under Secretary of State, Herbert Hoover Jr. (7). Rather than install a government subservient to its interests in Guatemala, all Washington got was an explosion of anti-American sentiment all over Latin America, and one of the top priorities of Eisenhower's successor during his eight years in power would be to restore some kind of goodwill between his country and the dozens of nations south of it, which would be done by gradually cutting funds and arms sales to the military dictatorships of the region and steadily reigning in the CIA (8).


    (1) I know Castillo Armas is wearing the presidential sash here, but this is one of the best photos of him available.

    (2) As you can see, Guevara's life and career will be drastically different. IOTL, the success of the coup made him flee to Mexico, where he met the Castro brothers and then went to Cuba. Because of this and other butterflies, the Cuban Revolution will be unrecognizable.

    (3) IOTL, 30 attackers made it out of Zacapa. Here, the government's victory is even bigger, strengthening their morale.

    (4) IOTL, Castillo Armas captured Chiquimula, scoring his only military victory, and Árbenz resigned two days later.

    (5) If the Wikipedia page for the 1954 coup d'état can be trusted, France and Britain supported a proposal to have the UN investigate the coup, which was vetoed by the US for obvious reasons. The CIA also bombed a British freighter carrying Guatemalan cotton and coffee. But don't forget, they were involved in some pretty shady stuff themselves in their remaining colonies and spheres of influence. The Suez Crisis is right around the corner.

    (6) As opposed to OTL, where Castillo Armas took power, reversed Decree 900, ran Guatemala into the ground and caused a 36 year civil war that led to the death of 200.000 people, most of them Mayan civilians. The man himself was assassinated by one of his bodyguards in 1957.

    (7) IOTL, Dulles, suffering from cancer, resigned in 1959 and was replaced by Christian Herter as Secretary of State.

    (8) Butterflies, butterflies. IIRC this was the CIA's second successful coup overall, and the first in Latin America, so a failure here can bring about significant, if gradual, changes.
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    Part 4: 1955 Presidential Election
  • ------------------
    Part 4: 1955 Presidential Election

    Soon after Getúlio's suicide, his successor to the presidency of the republic, vice-president João Café Filho, a member of Ademar de Barros' PSP and a nonentity, quickly changed course from the late president's policies and formed a new cabined composed entirely of conservative politicians and people supported by them. Among the most important members of the new administration was the liberal economist Eugênio Gudin, who became Minister of Finance, as well as Juarez Távora, an old revolutionary from the 1920s and 1930 who had since long parted ways with the late president and become a supporter of UDN as well as a staunch opponent of nationalist members of the army, who was given control of the Military Office of the Presidency.

    Thus, the Café Filho administration, desiring to regain the trust of foreign money lenders, adopted a liberal economic policy and cut state spending in several areas, earning it the support of UDN and much of PSD as well as the opposition of PTB. Regarding Petrobras, some people accused the federal government, and Távora in particular since he opposed the company's creation, of deliberately sabotaging its activites to the benefit of foreign oil corporations, something the minister in question denied. Another interesting episode that happened under his brief rule was a meeting with leaders and prominient members of multiple parties, such as the pessedistas Benedito Valadares and Nereu Ramos, UDN's Carlos Lacerda and incumbent SP governor Lucas Garcez, who, fearing that PTB quickly grow in size in the 1954 state elections thanks to the aftermath of Vargas' suicide and perhaps cause a military coup, tried to convince the president to delay them, an offer Café Filho refused since doing so would be a violation of the Constitution (1).

    President Café Filho in his office.
    As 1954 gave way to 1955, the single concern that dominated the attention of the press, major political figures and Café Filho himself was that year's presidential election. The president wanted to forge a "national unity" ticket headed by Juarez Távora which would simultaneously decrease political tensions and marginalize the left, consolidated around PTB, but this plan was quickly scuttled when Távora decisively ruled out running for the presidency in an interview (2). The first party to officially announce its candidate was PSD, with Juscelino Kubitschek, governor of Minas Gerais who had before that served as mayor of Belo Horizonte during the days of the Estado Novo, easily winning the convention, which happened on February 10.

    PTB promptly endorsed his candidacy and, for that, was given the vice-presidential spot in the ticket. Former Minister of Labour and current senator João Goulart was considered thanks to his enormous prestige among the working class, but he declined the offer because of the military's hostility to him and his unwillingness to let go of the Senate seat he won in the previous year so soon. Thus, the man chosen to be Juscelino's running mate was, instead, Alberto Pasqualini, another gaúcho senator who, among other things, basically created most of the party's core program, being the ideological mentor of people such as the already mentioned Jango as well as Fernando Ferrari and Leonel Brizola (3).

    juscelino getulio.jpg

    Juscelino Kubitschek (left) and Getúlio Vargas.
    The former's campaign wrapped itself around the latter's image to great effect.

    However, as is to be expected from a big tent party, not everyone in PSD approved of Juscelino's candidacy. The state sections of Pernambuco, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, which were more conservative than the national average for a variety of reasons, as well as multiple delegates from the Federal District and Bahia, publicly disagreed with his nomination, causing a rift in the pessedista ranks. After days and days of furious debates, the dissidents chose Etelvino Lins, former governor of Pernambuco, as their presidential candidate. Other centrist to conservative parties, such as PR, PDC and, most importantly, UDN, endorsed him, creating a mighty centre-right coalition that had the support of most of the press, many governors and the majority of the coronéis (oligarchs) who dominated the Northeast. His running mate was Bento Munhoz da Rocha, the popular governor of Paraná (4).​

    etelvino lins 1955.jpg

    Etelvino Lins addressing his supporters.
    With both very strong campaigns now clearly defined and on opposite sides of the race, the last prominent politician left to clarify his position was the governor of São Paulo, Ademar de Barros, who, just like in 1950, sat on the position of kingmaker, with his endorsement of this or that candidate being capable of swinging several hundreds of thousands of votes to one side or another. Both Juscelino and Etelvino met with him multiple times during the campaign, each candidate promising comfortable and important ministries for PSP and to support the mighty governor when he inevitably ran for president in 1960. While Ademar broke with Getúlio Vargas and took a hard turn to the right nationally, in São Paulo itself he still depended on PTB and even the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), which despite being illegal was still a significant actor in state politics, to support his political machine (5).

    After months of waiting, in May 11 Ademar finally announced his endorsement of... Etelvino Lins, completing his consolidation into a right-wing politician. Not only had he gradually distanced himself from Getúlio Vargas' legacy and its supporters, of which Juscelino was one, but the bulk of the opposition to him in São Paulo, composed of parties such as PDC and UDN, also backed Etelvino, which caused a lot of confusion. Perhaps this was what the governor was looking for: by endorsing the same candidate his adversaries did, he hoped to cause rifts in the opposition which would then allow a chosen candidate of his to win the 1958 gubernatorial election just like how he defeated Jânio Quadros. This kind of divided opposition already gave him a juicy victory in the São Paulo city mayoral elecion, where PSP candidate Juvenal Lino de Matos won with around 46% of the vote.

    The kingmaker in the interior of São Paulo.
    Ademar's endorsement of Etelvino was, naturally, a horrible blow to Juscelino, and many, especially in the press (except Última Hora, of course), said that his defeat was certain, but even so all the optimistic and sunny governor of Minas Gerais did was campaign much harder than before, with him and vice-presidential candidate Alberto Pasqualini crisscrossing the country in the time they had left between May and October 3. He also doubled down on his connections with Getúlio Vargas, hoping to gain the massed support of the urban working classes, while local allies, such as governors Leonel Brizola of Rio Grande do Sul and Antônio Balbino of Bahia, made impassioned speeches in defense of him and his proposals.

    But would that be enough?
    The Results:

    brasil 1955 - 1.PNG

    All things considered, Juscelino likely exceeded expectations, but it just wasn't enough for him to defeat Etelvino. The conservative candidate swept most of the Northeast with the exceptions of Bahia, Maranhão and Piauí, and scored decisive victories in São Paulo, as expected, and in the state of Rio de Janeiro (a PSD stronghold until 1954), which was possible due to governor Tenório Cavalcanti's very questionable campaign methods, namely intimidation, bribery and sometimes even assassinations. Juscelino's direct appeal to the working class allowed him to win Minas Gerais and Rio Grande do Sul by crushing margins, as well as the Federal District, but they weren't great enough to offset Etelvino's own strong margins elsewhere.

    The vice-presidential race was even tighter, but its result was otherwise identical.

    Bento Munhoz da Rocha (PR) - 4.207.546 votes (51,84%)

    alberto pasqualini.jpg
    Alberto Pasqualini (PTB) - 3.908.862 (48,16%)

    Carlos Lacerda and other prominent conservatives could afford to rest easy for now. Brazil wasn't getting a progressive administration anytime soon.
    etelvino campanha.jpg

    The Etelvino campaign celebrates its victory.

    This is OTL, and it frankly surprised me. I read it in Café Filho's CPDOC article.

    (2) IOTL, Juarez Távora flip-flopped constantly before finally entering the race in May, months after Juscelino, something that cost him many potential supporters. Here, that doesn't happen, and as a result the right is more consolidated ITTL.

    (3) Since Jango lost his 1954 Senate race IOTL, he was basically out of office until he became vice-president. That's not the case here.

    (4) Etelvino Lins briefly ran for president IOTL and won the support of UDN, but eventually dropped out in support of Távora. Bento Munhoz da Rocha was seen as a potential running mate to the "Viceroy of the North", but the latter's indecision killed that.

    (5) Ademar, at this point IOTL (but not ITTL) out of elected office since he lost the 1954 SP gubernatorial race to Jânio Quadros, ran for president and won a respectable 25% of the vote. Quadros endorsed Távora.​
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    Part 5: The Etelvino Administration
  • ------------------
    Part 5: The Etelvino Administration

    Immediately after his inauguration as president of Brazil in January 31, 1956, and in perfect accord with the kind of campaign he ran the previous year, Etelvino Lins set up a very conservative government, full of ministers who were either outright udenistas or conservative members of PSD themselves, such as José de Magalhães Pinto (Finance) and Armando Falcão (Justice) respectively, or prominent individuals or intellectuals who had their endorsement, such as Luís Antônio da Gama e Silva (Education). On the military front, which was of critical importance due to the constant possibility of a coup or a pronunciamento, as was typical of a Latin American country in that period, the new president appointed the archconservative general Osvaldo Cordeiro de Farias to the position of Minister of War (1).

    Carlos Lacerda, who had become a federal deputy representing the Federal District the previous year, was also given a very handsome reward for his efforts: hours after being inaugurated, president Etelvino appointed him to the mayoralty of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's capital and the window through which the rest of the world looked at, the beauty of its beaches and wealthy neighborhoods hiding the immense inequality that lurked within the city itself and the rest of the nation. The former communist named after Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels (his full name was Carlos Frederico Werneck de Lacerda (2)) knew he had just been given an immense platform from which he could plan his inevitable campaign for the presidency in 1960, and he would take full advantage of it.

    Mayor Lacerda giving an interview. Sugarloaf Mountain, one of Rio's most famous tourist attractions, is visible in the background.
    Surprisingly enough, perhaps, the Etelvino administration departed from the liberal orthodoxy and spending cuts that dominated Café Filho's presidency, which one could see as odd since many of the people who supported these policies in the past were now members of his cabinet. There were two major reasons for this:

    • First, the economic crisis that plagued most of the late Getúlio Vargas' and the entirety of Café Filho's presidencies receded.​
    • Second, sheer necessity. Having been governor of Pernambuco from 1952 to 1955, the incumbent president was fully aware of the immense deficiencies of Brazil's existing infrastructure, which urgently needed large public works such as new highways and hydroelectric plants to keep the economy running. This would also have the welcome side effect of creating millions of jobs for the time being.​
    With the full support of the states, the federal government oversaw the construction or reform of thousands of roads, bridges and even some railways, the movement in these areas also making other sectors, such as heavy industry, grow at an unprecedented rate. The economy was opened up to foreign companies, especially car manufacturers such as Volkswagen and Simca, allowing billions of dollars worth of investments to come to the country, and the government of the United States also gave several low interest loans to help prop up the incumbent conservatives in Rio de Janeiro. The result was that Brazil's GDP grew at the startling rate of approximately 8.5% on average every year in the period from 1956 to 1961 (3).

    It was the beginning of what people would later refer to as the "Golden Years" ("Anos Dourados"), an era of unparalelled economic growth and prosperity that coexisted with similar phenomenons such as the Mexican and Argentine miracles (4). Home appliances such as vacuum cleaners, TVs, radios (whose usage had been on the rise since the 1940s), washing machines, among many others, became widespread among the Brazilian middle class, while singers and composers such as Vinícius de Moraes, Tom Jobim and João Gilberto would grow famous not only in their homeland but also internationally.

    The victorious Brazilian national football team during the 1958 FIFA World Cup.
    Brazil's victory in said tournament, as well as the ones in 1962 and 1970, were critical in shaping up the culture of the Golden Years.

    Unfortunately, the Etelvino Administration's policies in other areas ensured that this surge of prosperity remained a grotesquely unequal one for the time being. First, the overwhelming majority of the new infrastructure projects (the successful ones at least) were located in the Southeast and Southern regions of the country, increasing the migration of poor people from the Northeast (the retirantes) to these areas in search of jobs, especially the state of São Paulo.

    Retirantes, a painting made by world famous artist Candido Portinari, depicting a poverty stricken family in the Sertão.
    It was in the social front that the federal government showed the full extent of its conservatism and authoritarianism. The Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS), a political police agency founded in 1924, during the days of the Old Republic and greatly expanded during the Estado Novo, was given a new lease of life and allowed to break up strikes by force and arrest trade unionists, as well suspected socialists and communists, all in the name of national security. At the same time, the minimum wage was kept artificially low even though the economy soared to new heights, widening the abyss that existed between those who stood at the top and those who, despite their efforts, stayed at the bottom.

    And that was in the cities.

    Deep within Brasil's vast, virtually lawless interior (the Sertão), local oligarchs and landowners (the coronéis) ruled like feudal lords, exploiting those below them and murdering anyone who dared to challenge ther authority at their leisure. Famines and droughts were common, driving hundreds of thousands of poor farmers to the cities and the Southeast every year, and many places had no literate inhabitants whatsoever. The Etelvino Administration, beholden to the coronéis, didn't do so much as lift a finger to change this situation, the symbolic few million cruzeiros it sent as humanitarian aid being stolen by corrupt middlemen.

    Federal deputy Josué de Castro (PTB-PE), the Nobel Peace Prize receiving, world famous famous geographer and doctor whose signature issue was tackling the rampant malnutrition that ravaged the lower classes, regularly and ferociously denounced the federal government for its inaction on this front not only to his fellow congresspeople, but even to the UN (5). Although these criticisms were, in the long term, largely toothless, his prestige as an intellectual ensured that the issues he raised were given at least some attention by the major newspapers of the day, even conservative ones. And he was far from being the president's only prominent critic.
    josué de castro.jpg

    Josué de Castro.
    Though most governors backed the federal government's policies to the hilt, often doing so because they would be deprived of monetary aid otherwise, two of them didn't, and both ran states that wealthy enough to fend for themselves and be a thorn on Rio de Janeiro's side. The first, most famous and predictable governor to do so was, of course, Leonel Brizola of Rio Grande do Sul. While the central government repressed as many social movements as it could, the radical young petebista, who had a comfortable majority in the state assembly, embarked on an ambitious program of land reform, taking the side of landless peasants in their many judicial disputes against large landowners, confiscating the latter's land (after paying them an indemnity, as stipulated by the Constitution) and then redistributing it to hundreds of poor families (6).

    Less controversial, but just as important, was the RS state government's massive investments in public education, with as many as 6.302 new public schools (the "brizoletas", as they would later be called) being built in the period between 1955 and 1959. Naturally, this made Brizola even more popular in his state, and transformed him into an icon of the Brazilian left. Few doubted that he would try to run for president in 1960, his charisma and successful tenure as governor making him an extremely strong candidate, much to the fear of the conservatives, whose newspapers already churned out headlines calling him a communist and Soviet agent.
    reforma agraria.jpg

    Brizola addressing a crowd of peasants.
    The other prominent governor to oppose the president's social policies, João Cleofas of Pernambuco (Etelvino's home state), was, simultaneously and paradoxically, far more moderate and much more dangerous. Despite being a large landowner and founding member of UDN, Cleofas was supported by the communists and the left (including people such as Miguel Arraes, at this point still just an assemblyman) in the 1954 PE gubernatorial election, where he narrowly defeated PSD's Osvaldo Cordeiro de Farias, the same man who would later become Minister of War (7). Because of this, Cleofas, who had before that been Getúlio Vargas' Minister of Agriculture, had no choice but to embark on a socially reformist agenda, refusing to crush peasant organizations, extending labor rights to them and taking their side on most judicial disputes, much like Brizola did in the south but in a smaller scale.

    A member of the elite and a respected statesman, Cleofas couldn't be smeared as a radical. To make things worse for the government, a growing number of people in UDN's parliamentary wing, such as Clóvis Ferro Costa (PA) and José Sarney (MA) agreed with his ideas, fully aware that some kind of change was needed, lest the masses rise up and revolt in order to not starve to death.
    These moderate reformists, sworn enemies of the Banda de Música and its relentless quest to maintain the status quo at all costs, formed a group that would later call itself the Bossa Nova (8). In time, their bickering would eventually tear UDN apart.

    João Cleofas, leader of the Bossa Nova.


    (1) All of these individuals either helped set up the military dictatorship or had a prominent position in it. Magalhães Pinto in particular was basically the coup's civilian leader.

    (2) One thing that remained constant throughout Lacerda's entire political career despite his ideological 180 was his staunch opposition to Getúlio Vargas.

    (3) This is all OTL, with the extremely important difference that Brasília won't be built here.
    IIRC that alone cost 68 billion of today's dollars or about 1.5 billion back then, 10% of our GDP.

    (4) Oh dear, what's going on in there?

    (5) Josué de Castro was an extremely famous intellectual back then. Sadly, IOTL he was forced into exile by the post 1964 dictatorship and died a depressed man in Paris.

    (6) All OTL, just happening four years sooner.

    (7) IOTL Cordeiro de Farias narrowly defeated Cleofas and took a hard line stance against labour and peasant unions.

    (8) Another thing that occurred IOTL happening sooner.


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    Foreign Snapshot: Beyond the Curtain
  • ------------------
    Foreign Snapshot: Beyond the Curtain

    Fewer countries embodied the dangers, failings and supposed strengths of a dictatorial system of government than the Soviet Union. On paper, the USSR had at its disposal the second largest economy in the world, second only to its archrival, the United States, a military apparatus to match, one which could take pride in being one of the chief architects of the defeat of Nazi Germany, and an unemployment rate that was close to zero, something unthinkable in a capitalist country. On the other hand, its extreme degree of centralization meant that, although it was perfectly capable of producing millions of tons of steel and high quality weapons every year, since these sectors were given the state's full attention, the consumer goods industry and especially agriculture were sorely neglected, which was especially humiliating considering its soil was among the most fertile in the world. Corruption was rampant, as is to be expected from any dictatorship, with huge amounts of resources and money being wasted on every new giant infrastructure project.

    It was at the political level that the USSR's flaws truly manifested themselves, for the country, whose territory covered one sixth of the Earth's surface and had several satellite states under its thumb, had been under the iron grip of Joseph Stalin for almost three decades. His incompetent policies regarding agriculture led to several million preventable deaths from famine - when said famine wasn't an intentional one, like the Holodomor - while his paranoia caused the outright execution of hundreds of thousands (if not over a million) of others, from supposed dissidents, important members of the Communist Party (the "Old Bolsheviks") and experienced army officers, which had a very negative effect on its performance in WWII for obvious reasons. By the time the dictator finally died in March 5, 1953, after suffering from health problems for many years, all remaining prominent state and party bureaucrats were either terrified sycophants or true believers - and had plenty of blood on their hands as well.

    Left to right: Anastas Mikoyan, Nikita Khrushchev, Joseph Stalin, Georgy Malenkov, Lavrentiy Beria and Vyacheslav Molotov in 1945.
    They almost look like celebrities, rather than murderers.

    Georgy Maximilianovich Malenkov was no exception. A ruthless technocrat and crafty politician, he had most of his rivals executed or imprisoned on what became known as the Leningrad Affair, and, once Stalin finally kicked the bucket, was handsomely rewarded for his efforts by inheriting the positions held by the late dictator, that of Premier (head of state) and of General Secretary of the Communist Party (de facto head of government). Theoretically, he was now the undisputed leader of the Soviet Union, and was treated by the local and international press accordingly, the latter portraying him as the sterotypical grim-looking autocrat. However, Malenkov was no Stalin, and he was fully aware of the fact he was treading on thin ice: if he wished to hold on to power long enough to leave a lasting legacy for his country and the rest of the world, he couldn't afford to antagonize the Politburo, whose members were understandably quite worried that one man held so much power (1).

    Thus, Malenkov's policies early in his tenure focused on things that most of his fellow higher-ups, even people such as Molotov, agreed with. He gradually backed down from the worst excesses of Stalinist tyranny, emptying the gulags, instituting a mass amnesty that halved the USSR's inmate population, and officially banning torture, all the while keeping a tight lid on the press and maintaining the cult of personality around Stalin's figure (2). Lavrentiy Beria, who had been chief of the late dictator's secret police and was universally hated by the Politburo, was arrested in April 1953 on charges of treason, terrorism and engaging counter-revolutionary during the Russian Civil War. He was executed at an undisclosed location in August, becoming the last prominent Soviet official to suffer such a fate as the result of a power struggle (3). Future disputes would end with early retirements and reassignments to junior positions.

    By 1956 Malenkov's grip on power was thoroughly secured, and that was when things really began to change. That year, he unveiled before the Supreme Soviet the sixth five-year plan, which overall envisioned greater investments in consumer goods and agriculture, as well as smaller taxes on the peasants in order to provide an incentive for them to produce more. The cost of these enterprises would be offset with drastic cuts on heavy industry and especially the armed forces, something that ruffled more than a few feathers among the more conservative members (4). He also went on a diplomatic trip to Great Britain, during which he impressed said country's diplomats, with ambassador William Goodenough Hayter commenting on his "extremely agreeable" manners, sharp mind and "pleasant, musical-sounding" voice (5). Three years later, Malenkov would embark on a similar trip, but this time to the United States, where he talked with president Eisenhower and debated with vice-president Richard Nixon on what became known as the Kitchen Debate (6). It was the beginning of the détente phase of the Cold War, during which both superpowers would compete with one another culturally and technologically, rather than through an arms race, though proxy wars remained common.
    A British newsreel detailing the Soviet leader's visit to the UK.
    It didn't take long for Malenkov's policies to bear fruit on multiple fronts, strengthening not only his image but also that of subordinates such as Maksim Saburov and Mikhail Pervukhin, who also played a crucial role on elaborating the sixth five-year plan. Economically, the focus on mechanizing agriculture and improving light industry led to a noticeable improvement of the people's standard of living, even if chronic issues such as bad weather and inefficiency remained, things would never get as bad as they got during the Stalinist era. Technologically, the Soviet Union triggered the Space Race by launching Sputnik 1, the first ever artificial satellite, and would just four years later send the first man into space. Some satellite states, inspired by Moscow's economic successes, began to adopt some of its policies and adapt them into their own realities, the most famous examples being Poland and East Germany, governed by Wladyslaw Gomulka and Walter Ulbricht respectively (7).

    A propaganda poster celebrating the Soviet space program.


    (1) IOTL, Malenkov had Pravda publish a doctored photo of him, Stalin and Mao that erased a huge number of prominent Soviet officials from it. This proved to be an enormous mistake, since it justifiably terrified the Politburo and forced him to resign from the post of General Secretary, which would be occupied by Nikita Khrushchev.


    (2) Stalin gets the Mao treatment (70% good 30% bad, God it hurts just to type these words), at least for now, so no destalinization.

    (3) IOTL Beria was arrested in June and executed in December.

    (4) It took years upon years of mistakes on Khrushchev's part (an erratic foreign policy, the Virgin Lands Campaign, the Cuban Missile Crisis) for the conservatives to finally oust him, so Malenkov's fine. The Aral Sea doesn't get drained either, so that's another environmental disaster averted.

    (5) An OTL assessment according to Wikipedia (I know, I know).

    (6) Naturally quite different from the OTL one.

    (7) IOTL Ulbricht tried to enact an economic reform program (the
    New Economic System) but Moscow (at that point led by Brezhnev) didn't approve and he was eventually ousted by Erich Honecker in 1971.
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    Part 6: Legislative Shenanigans and the 1958 Elections
  • ------------------
    Part 6: Legislative Shenanigans and the 1958 Elections

    One of president Etelvino's main priorities was rebuilding the acordo interpartidário ("inter-party accord"), the centre-right coalition that easily dominated the two houses of Brazil's Congress during the days of Eurico Gaspar Dutra, who occupied the chief executive between 1946 and 1951. This alliance, composed of PSD, UDN and PR, successfully marginalized PTB throughout his entire administration right up until Getúlio Vargas' return to the presidency, during which the pessedistas and petebistas were united in a strong, if shaky coalition of their own. The incumbent officeholder was assisted in this task by the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Carlos Luz, and of the Senate, Nereu Ramos, both of whom were conservative members of PSD and were all too eager to keep the increasingly more radical (in their view) left as far away from power as possible (1).

    All three of them soon realized that this would be more difficult a feat to perform than they had anticipated, for the forces that rallied behind Juscelino Kubitschek's failed campaign in 1955 weren't going to take their defeat lying down. A faction of progressive pessedistas known as the "Ala Moça" ("Young Wing"), led by federal deputy Tancredo Neves, who had been Getúlio's last Minister of Justice, joined forces with PTB and the Bossa Nova to derail as much of the federal government's conservative agenda as possible. Early on, the government employed salami tactics to deal with them, paying this or that congressman - who often wasn't really *that* rebellious yet- to switch sides with pork barrel legislation, diminishing their effectiveness. However, Brazil's social problems continued to worsen, as did the president's repression of social movements and striking workers, whose actions grew ever more frequent even as the overall economy kept rising. Thus, these acts of blatant bribery became increasingly harder to perform.

    Tancredo Neves.
    Then, on February 15, 1958, right before the beginning of that year's campaign season, something truly explosive happened, an event that fully exposed the rifts in the government's ranks. That day, senator Assis Chateaubriand (PSD-PB), who was also the most powerful media mogul of his time, introduced a bill that would, if turned into law, "review" (read: abolish) Petrobras' monopoly over the extraction and refinement of Brazilian petroleum, allowing foreign companies to move in (2). The nationalists' reaction was an immediate and furious one: within hours, Última Hora (their perpetual mouthpiece) started churning out articles about how the "entreguistas" (sellouts), not satisfied with forcing Getúlio Vargas to commit suicide, now wanted to destroy his legacy, while leading progressive and moderate deputies (the Senate had a huge conservative majority and was therefore considered hopeless) such as Fernando Ferrari, José Sarney, Ulysses Guimarães and Lutero Vargas, put aside their countless differences and worked together to defeat what they apocalyptically labeled the "Lei da Mutilação" ("Mutilation Bill").

    While the opposition was united and invigorated, the government was bitterly divided. President Etelvino, privately furious with Chateaubriand's lack of political acumen, publicly stayed neutral, fearing that the rifts in his base would grow into chasms if he took a strong position one way or another, while Federal District mayor Carlos Lacerda, who at this point already enjoyed excellent relations with the CIA and wished to improve them even further in preparation for his inevitable presidential campaign, enthusiastically supported the proposal and subtly worked with his American patrons to bribe any congressman still on the fence. São Paulo governor Ademar de Barros, feeling the consequences of not endorsing Juscelino back home, condemned it using the strongest possible terms, in a desperate attempt to save his political machine. The military establishment, usually active in moments like this, stayed silent.

    Brazil's Citizen Kane, Assis Chateaubriand.
    The nationalists' efforts paid off in the end: although the bill passed the Senate with a considerable margin, despite the efforts of men such as João Goulart (PTB-RS) and Argemiro de Figueiredo (UDN-PB), it was defeated in the Chamber of Deputies by 166 votes to 160, a difference of just six votes. Fifty years later, in 2008, multiple recently declassified CIA files revealed that the American embassy, using Lacerda as a middleman, spent one million dollars to bribe as many congresspeople into voting "yes" as possible.

    The opposition won a great victory, one which would dominate that year's campaign season.

    Ademar's decision to endorse Etelvino instead of Juscelino three years ago proved to be his undoing. The governor of São Paulo depended on PTB's support to keep a majority in the State Assembly, a majority that evaporated after his turn to the right. From 1955 onward, the state legislature, presided by André Franco Montoro, a member of the Christian Democratic Party, launched itself into a war against the governor, stonewalling most of his initiatives and lobbing constant accusations of corruption at every available opportunity, only refraining from impeaching him because it was more interesting for them to let him linger and for his popularity to fall even further.

    By 1958 it was obvious that Ademar's PSP would need a miracle to maintain its control of the governorship. But the opposition had learned from the mistakes it committed four years ago and united behind a single candidate, who just so happened to be none other than Montoro. He was able to build a wide coalition which included Brazil's three main political parties (PSD, UDN and PTB) as well as several minor ones, such as his own PDC, PST, PTN and PSB, all united in their opposition to the incumbent machine.

    Against such odds, the candidate fielded by PSP, former São Paulo city mayor Juvenal Lino de Matos, was nothing more than a sacrificial lamb.

    São Paulo 1958.PNG

    A new character burst into Brazil's political scene, one whose name would become synonymous with building bridges and an uncompromising defense of democracy when it was at its weakest (3).
    Carlos Lacerda's tenure as mayor of Rio de Janeiro had effectively turned the Brazilian capital into UDN's main nerve center and showcase for the rest of the country to behold. For all his acidic rhetoric (for which his opponents derisively called him "The Crow") he had proved himself to be a vigorous administrator who was able to get most of his proposals passed despite an opposition majority in the city council, a task in which he was undoubtedly assisted by the federal government and his foreign allies. With almost literal rivers of money flowing into the city's coffers every day, the mayor focused most of it on renewing Rio's image: some of its most important landmarks and infrastructure works, such the Aterro do Flamengo and the Rebouças Tunnel respectively, were built during Lacerda's tenure (4).

    The only noteworthy group of people who had a very, very good reason to despise him were the tens of thousands of poor residents who were evicted from their homes, either to make way for some new project or just "clean up" the urban landscape, and forced to live in new, distant areas where they were soon forgotten by the government and left to fend for themselves. But other than them, everyone else - the elite, the middle class and those among the poor who weren't directly targeted by the heavy-handed municipal police - was pretty happy with their lot in life at the moment. Even his most dedicated opponents, such as city councillor and future congressman Abdias do Nascimento (PTB (5)), had to acknowledge The Crow's popularity.


    The Rebouças Tunnel during its construction.

    While the cariocas were still denied the right to elect their own mayor, they could, and would, vote for a new senator this year. Considering how successful Lacerda's administration was to most of the population, it seemed that the UDN candidate, Afonso Arinos (the same man who led the attempt to impeach Getúlio Vargas), was a shoo-in for the vacant Senate seat, especially since he had the unanimous support of the conservative press. Arinos' main opponent, Lutero Vargas (PTB), who was the late president's eldest son, ran an energetic campaign and focused primarily on Rio's working-class neighborhoods, whose residents still remembered his father fondly, but even so it looked as if his defeat was certain.

    But politics were - and still are - notoriously unpredictable. On September 15, with the election half a month away, an extremely scandalous story found itself in the hands of Última Hora. According to the source, who chose to stay anonymous, there was a death squad roaming the streets of the Brazilian capital, one which had already kidnapped and murdered dozens of beggars in the last few years, and had many members of the municipal police in its ranks. The lonely opposition newspaper immediately pumped out articles calling Lacerda - whose involvement in this horrible affair was never proven - a Nazi and many other very unflattering names (6). Needless to say, the scandal hurt Arinos' campaign severely, since the mayor was his most important supporter by far. Lutero suddenly gained ground, and important progressive personalities from all over the country - from northerners such as Plínio Coelho to southerners such as João Goulart, Fernando Ferrari and, of course, Leonel Brizola - swooped into the capital to campaign for him in these crucial final days.

    última hora.jpg

    The first of several headlines published by Última Hora.

    By election day Arinos and Lutero were in a dead heat.
    Distrito Federal 1958.PNG

    Lutero, by sweeping most of the poorer neighborhoods and favelas (slums), prevailed in the end, even if barely, delivering a crushing defeat to UDN and the federal government, showing that his father's legacy was still as strong as ever. For now, PTB were elated at their stunning upset and celebrated nonstop, but they would soon realize that this race was an ugly omen of what was to come.
    If 1954 was the year PTB burst into the national scene, 1958 was when the party not only consolidated its position, but grew even further. While the Senate still retained a conservative majority, PTB's leap ahead of UDN in the Chamber of Deputies meant that they could no longer be simply ignored or walked around, especially with the divisions plaguing the two other major parties at the moment: from that moment on, any bill that in the lower house would require their approval, as well as that of the Bossa Nova and the Ala Moça.
    Chamber of Deputies:

    PSD: 103 seats (-12)
    PTB: 84 seats (+18)
    UDN: 65 seats (-11)
    PSP: 17 seats (-12)
    PR: 14 seats (-2)

    Minor Parties (PSB, PRP, PDC and so on): 43 seats (+3)

    Senate (one third):

    UDN: 9 seats
    PTB: 7 seats
    PSD: 4 seats
    PSP: 1 seat​

    For the next few years, Brazil's young democracy would be put through the ultimate test.


    (1) IOTL, Carlos Luz served as president of Brazil for three days, during which he tried to prevent Juscelino Kubitschek from taking office. He was deposed for it, after which Nereu Ramos served the last few months between November 1955 and January 1956.

    (2) Assis Chateaubriand was a fierce anti-nationalist crusader during his time in the Senate. I assume that, with a conservative government in charge of things, he'd be even bolder in his initiatives.

    (3) IOTL, Franco Montoro was governor of São Paulo from 1983 to 1987.

    (4) All OTL, except a few years earlier.

    (5) IOTL, Abdias do Nascimento ran for a seat in the Rio de Janeiro City Council in 1954 and lost. Here, he wins, and his political career starts almost three decades earlier.

    (6) Also OTL. Though Lacerda's name wasn't cleared AFAIK, he wasn't proven guilty either.
    Part 7: Who Governs this Country?
  • ------------------
    Part 7: Who Governs this Country?

    The political wound caused by Getúlio Vargas' suicide in 1954 and the circumstances surrounding it never really healed itself, even if it seemed to do so in the following years. The bulk of the right, which had until then agitated for a coup, calmed down after the presidency was taken over by Café Filho, who followed their agenda to the hilt, and calmed down further after Etelvino Lins' victory over Juscelino Kubitschek in the 1955 presidential election, which ensured a conservative federal government until 1960 at the very least and shut down those few who still argued for a military solution to maintain the status quo. The president's surprisingly statist approach to the economy, which made legislators who were otherwise irreconcilable opponents to him and his allies vote for some of the administration's policies, along with the massive growth that followed, seemingly guaranteed that Brazil's future would be a prosperous and stable one.

    But that very growth proved to be a deadly poison. Since most of the main investments and projects were concentrated on the Southeast, which was the country's most developed region by far, as well as the lack of social programs to ensure the new riches were distributed in a more equitable manner, Brazil's chronic and already alarming level of inequality skyrocketed. It didn't take long for industrial workers to grow angry once they realized that, even though their bosses grew wealthier by the day, their own wages were kept artificially low, with strikes following soon after. Though DOPS' repression kept their unions from coordinating with one another for the moment, it seemed that every day there was at least one factory somewhere unable to operate the way it was supposed to.

    The rural zone, still home to around 55% of all Brazilians, was in even greater turmoil. Inspired by the agrarian reforms enacted by governors Leonel Brizola of Rio Grande do Sul and João Cleofas of Pernambuco (which were continued by their respective successors Loureiro da Silva and Cid Sampaio), peasants and activists all over the country rose up and demanded for their basic rights to be respected, organizing unions (the Ligas Camponesas, or Peasant Leagues in English) to help them accomplish this objective.
    liga camponesa.jpg

    Rural workers demonstrating for land reform. One of the signs reads "Terra ou Morte" ("Land or Death")

    The result of the 1958 elections only contributed to the climate of radicalization. Many of the new governors, such as Franco Montoro (SP) and Roberto Silveira (RJ), not only refused to deploy the police agencies under their control to repress the social movements in their respective states, but did their best to obstruct DOPS' work in this front. The federal legislature (whose members took their seats in 1959) was split between a conservative Senate and a progressive Chamber of Deputies, where PTB, the Ala Moça and the Bossa Nova won a majority and successfully elected one of their own, Ulysses Guimarães (PSD-SP), to preside the lower house. Gridlocks became the norm, and in the morass of factionalism that dominated Rio de Janeiro from then on, party affiliations became meaningless as two main blocs assembled:
    • The Nationalist Parliamentary Front (Frente Parlamentar Nacionalista), which rallied PTB and the already mentioned dissidents from UDN and PSD, as well as other minor parties such as PSB;
    • The Democratic Parliamentary Action (Ação Democrática Parlamentar), which rallied most of UDN and PSD.
    At the same time, two right-wing think tanks emerged, the Institue of Social Studies and Research (IPES) and the Brazilian Institute for Democratic Action (IBAD), both of whom started to churn out conservative propaganda right away, their radio and TV ads making it look like as if Brazil would be taken over by the red menace and its agents as soon as their intended audience, the upper and middle classes, let down their guard. Unsurprisingly, these organizations were generously funded by the CIA.

    A toxic, vitriolic atmosphere reigned over the nation, and it was only a matter of time before something terrible happened. And it finally did in the evening of June 5, 1959.
    Rio de Janeiro, Republic of the United States of Brazil
    The passenger nervously gripped his hidden weapon as he looked out of the car window, searching for his target. Personally, he thought the whole motive behind the very ugly deed he was about to commit was a huge load of bullshit, but the tone of the shady men who "offered" him the job showed him he didn't have a choice in the matter. He and the driver had been waiting in the same damned corner for hours now, because apparently the men who were supposed to die tonight, senator João Goulart (PTB-RS) and federal deputy Dante Pellacani (PSB-SP (1)), regularly passed through this street every day when going to and returning from work.

    Jango and Pellacani.

    Suddenly, a humble looking white Volkswagen Beetle, one which hid just how influential its occupants were, passed by. After a few seconds, the assassins' own car lit up and started shadowing their targets at a safe distance, so as to not arouse any suspicion until it was too late. The silent pursuit went on for a few minutes, the driver looking for the perfect opportunity for his partner to get a clear shot and then quickly bolt out of the scene. Feeling that this was taking too long, he took a turn to the right into one of the smaller streets, temporarily losing sight of the target in the process. After some tense seconds, he turned back to the main road, seeking to intercept them. The car quickly burst right into the Beetle's path, giving the gunman the perfect position to start shooting.

    And that was when things went wrong.

    The driver of the targets' vehicle, instead of slamming the brakes to avoid a collision, immediately took a hard turn to the left. Whether he either knew what was about to happen or simply acted on instinct didn't matter: what did matter was that the assassin found himself having only a few seconds to fulfill his task. He frantically emptied his gun on the Beetle, shivering hands ensuring that, although some projectiles found their mark, sending shards of glass flying everywhere, several didn't. The car carrying the two legislators, its windshield and rear window laced with bullet holes, quickly picked up speed and escaped.

    They had actually gotten away. Fuck.
    The attack against Goulart and Pellacani was an instant bombshell. The two men were rushed into the closest hospital, where it was fortunately discovered that neither of them had suffered any severe wounds, although a bullet did graze the former's head. Prominent figures everywhere, from businessmen to generals to, of course, politicians, were outraged and demanded an immediate investigation: while Pellacani was a well known radical and a suspected communist who regularly incited workers to go on strike for blatantly political reasons, Goulart, who likely would've died if the anonymous gunman was a better shot, was at this point a respected moderate lawmaker, a member of a small but growing group among the elite (the "national progressive bourgeoisie", as scholars would later call them (2)) who believed that reforms were necessary in order for Brazil to overcome its multiple social maladies.

    The Volkswagen Beetle struck by the assassins.

    Comparisons were immediately made to the attack Carlos Lacerda suffered five years before, and they only incensed the public further, for while that crime started a gigantic manhunt that caught the culprits in a matter of days, the investigation into this one was noticeably sluggish, and Última Hora did the best it could to fan the flames of indignation among its millions of working class readers. Days, weeks and eventually months passed, and the police had nothing to show for it, no leads, no suspects, no witnesses, nothing. The only bits of evidence they had were a few bullets belonging to a gun that was exclusive property of the army. Clearly, whoever ordered this was a very powerful individual, someone with enough connections and money to cover his own tracks and obstruct the investigators' path as much as possible. Assuming they weren't in on it too, that is.

    It all seemed like a repeat of the events of 1954, except with the roles swapped. Opposition members and supporters now said there was a reactionary "deep state" (Estado Paralelo) controlling the country behind the government's back, a sentiment best expressed when an infuriated Leonel Brizola (who at this point held no elected office and was no longer bound to his previous duties), flanked by other prominent PTB personalities such as Lutero Vargas asked a now famous question in the middle of a press conference: "Who governs this country?" ("Quem governa esse país?")

    Nobody knew. It sure wasn't the president, though.


    (1) IOTL, Dante Pellacani, an union leader associated with the Brazilian Communist Party, ran for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies in 1958 and lost. In 1962 he became president of the CGT (General Command of Workers), a federation of unions which pressured the federal government to adopt the Reformas de Base with labour strikes, which only contributed to the instability that plagued João Goulart's administration, especially from 1963 onward. He was a leading radical figure in that period, along with others such as Brizola, Miguel Arraes and Sérgio Magalhães.

    (2) Several of these businessmen were persecuted by the military dictatorship that took over after the 1964 coup d'état. The only ones I really know about are Celso da Rocha Miranda and Mário Wallace Simonsen, but I'm sure there are other cases.
    Last edited:
    Governors in 1959
  • ------------------
    Governors in 1959


    List of incumbent governors in 1959, with summaries for the more noteworthy ones.

    (*) Was elected in 1955
    (**) Was narrowly defeated IOTL.


    Governor: Sebastião Marinho Muniz Falcão (PSP - Progressive)*

    Summary: Having defeated UDN candidate Afrânio Lages by less than 3.000 votes, Muniz Falcão's term as governor of Alagoas so far has been turbulent to put it very mildly. Before his accession, the state's infamously violent politics were domiated by oligarchic groups such as the Góes Monteiro, Mello and Palmeira families, the first one belonging to PSD, the latter two to UDN. As a populist outsider, Muniz Falcão faces the relentless opposition of the State Assembly, which tried to impeach him in September 1957, an attempt that was stopped after his allies in the legislature armed themselves and opened fire on the opposition, causing a shootout that left several wounded and one assemblyman dead. Though he was still impeached later anyway, the governor retook his position thanks to a decision from the Supreme Court (1).



    Governor: Gilberto Mestrinho (PTB - Progressive)



    Governor: Juracy Magalhães (UDN - Conservative)

    Summary: A hardened political veteran, Juracy Magalhães first served as governor of Bahia from 1930 to 1937, when he was ousted by the Estado Novo. After briefly serving as the first president of Petrobras in 1954 and as senator from 1955 to 1959, he finally returned to the governorship more than twenty years after his overthrow, and has so far proved himself to be a reliable ally of the federal government.



    Governor: Parsifal Barroso (PTB - Progressive)


    Espírito Santo

    Governor: Carlos Lindenberg (PSD - Moderate)


    Federal District

    Mayor: Carlos Lacerda (UDN - Conservative)

    Summary: You already know a lot about him.


    Governor: José Feliciano Ferreira (PSD - Moderate)



    Governor: José de Matos Carvalho (PSD - Conservative)*

    Summary: A nonentity who's nothing more than a puppet for the mighty senator Vitorino Freire (2).


    Mato Grosso

    Governor; Saldanha Derzi (UDN - Conservative)**


    Minas Gerais

    Governor: José Francisco Bias Fortes (PSD - Conservative)

    Summary: Having been elected governor of MG with a whooping 70% of the vote thanks to Juscelino Kubitschek's popularity, Bias Fortes quickly allied himself with the federal government and PSD's conservative wing, led by Benedito Valadares, Carlos Luz and Nereu Ramos, much to the ire of his former benefactor, who doesn't hide his plan to run for president again in 1960.



    Governor: Epílogo de Campos (UDN - Conservative)**



    Governor: Flávio Ribeiro Coutinho (UDN - Conservative)*



    Governor: Moisés Lupion (PSD - Conservative)*

    Summary: A huge landowner who already served a previous term as governor of Paraná (1947 - 1951), Moisés Lupion's second and current term has been marred by conflicts between rural squatters and grileiros (landowners who use false documents to illegaly claim property over tracts of land) as well as multiple accusations of corruption. To make matters worse, the current vice president, Bento Munhoz da Rocha, is a fierce political opponent of his, further weakening the governor's position.



    Governor: Cid Sampaio (UDN - Moderate)

    Summary: Continuing with his predecessor João Clefoas' policy of not repressing the state's rural labour unions, which are spreading like wildfire all over the countryside as a result, Cid Sampaio predictably inherited the strange position of being an udenista whose administration is backed by the left. As a result, he has an adversarial relationship with the federal government and the general currently in charge of the Fourth Army, Arthur da Costa e Silva (3).



    Governor: Francisco das Chagas Caldas Rodrigues (PTB - Progressive)


    Rio de Janeiro

    Governor: Roberto Silveira (PTB - Progressive)

    Summary: Having had enough of Tenório Cavalcanti's four years of terror, which gave birth to several scandals that helped tar UDN's national image, the people of the state of Rio de Janeiro elected lieutenant governor Roberto Silveira to the top spot with almost 60% of the vote. The new governor set off enacting an ambitious program of land reform combined with major investments in public education immediately after his inauguration, earning him comparisons to Leonel Brizola. Thanks to his great popularity and young age (36 years old), he's seen as a potential presidential candidate in 1965 (4).


    Rio Grande do Norte

    Governor: Dinarte Mariz (UDN - Conservative)*


    Rio Grande do Sul

    Governor: José Loureiro da Silva (PTB - Progressive)

    Summary: Having served as mayor of Porto Alegre from 1937 to 1943 (during the Estado Novo), Loureiro da Silva finally accomplished his great dream of becoming governor of Rio Grande do Sul, consolidating its transformation into a one party state. Amazingly, however, he was not Brizola's favorite candidate: the young radical would've preferred someone like Wilson Vargas (not related to Getúlio Vargas) or Egídio Michaelsen, but since neither of these decided to run, he had to settle for the more centrist Loureiro, who was also backed by Fernando Ferrari, a rival of Brizola within PTB (5).


    Santa Catarina

    Governor: Jorge Lacerda (PRP - Far-right)*

    Summary: A longtime follower of Plínio Salgado and the Brazilian version of fascism (Integralism), having supported their attempt to take over the government in 1938, Jorge Lacerda was elected governor of Santa Catarina thanks to an alliance with UDN and the internal disputes that affected the campaign of his adversary, Benjamin Gallotti. Extremely popular in his state, he's seen as a potential presidential candidate or running mate in 1960 (6).


    São Paulo

    Governor: André Franco Montoro (PDC - Moderate)

    Summary: Seeking to maintain the huge coalition that brought him to power for as long as possible, Franco Montoro's main priorities as governor so far are putting SP's finances, crippled after years of cronyism and corruption, back in shape, and dismantling what is left of Ademar de Barros' political machine. To accomplish the latter, Montoro fired or marginalized as many of his predecessor's political allies as he could, as well as thousands of public employees who were irregularly hired in exchange for their votes. He also launched several investigations into Ademar's actions during his gubernatorial term, seriously crippling the former governor's public image.

    However, Montoro also refused to use the state military police to crack down on the "subversive elements" (students, communists and labour unions), antagonizing his lieutenant governor, Abreu Sodré (a conservative udenista) as well as the commander of the Second Army, general Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco (7).



    Governor: José Rollemberg Leite (PSD - Conservative)**


    (1) This is all OTL. All of it.

    (2) Before José Sarney became Maranhão's Big Bad, that spot was occupied by Vitorino de Brito Freire, who controlled the state for twenty years (1945 - 1965) through an uninterrupted string of puppet governors.

    (3) IOTL, the second of Brazil's military dictators.

    (4) IOTL, Roberto Silveira's political career was tragically cut short by a helicopter crash in Petrópolis. Why do most of the good guys either get murdered or die really early?

    (5) IOTL, Loureiro da Silva sought the petebista gubernatorial nomination in 1958, but was soundly defeated by Brizola in the convention. Because of that, he left the party, with Fernando Ferrari following him soon after, greatly weakening PTB in the process.

    (6) IOTL, Jorge Lacerda died in a plane accident in 1958, along with Nereu Ramos and Leoberto Leal, a federal deputy.

    (7) The first of Brazil's OTL military dictators.
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    Foreign Snapshot: Caribbean Tour, Part One
  • I hope you guys enjoy this update, I made it extra thick!
    Foreign Snapshot: Caribbean Tour, Part One

    While the ripples of the Guatemalan Revolution - and the CIA's failed attempt to crush it - were felt throughout Latin America, its most important aftershocks happened, predictably, in the little country's immediate vicinity. Suddenly, a new future appeared to be possible for the millions of impoverished peasants and workers who lived in the many tiny nations scattered throughout Central America and the Caribbean, one in which they were finally free from the oppressive grip of the corrupt oligarchs and right-wing dictators who ruled their countries since independence. And, if the embarrassing affair that was Operation PBSUCCESS served as any indication, it seemed that not even Washington's wrath was capable of stopping said future from becoming a reality.

    One of the many countries under the United Fruit Company's thrall and the first one to be labeled a banana republic, Honduras' politics were dominated by the Liberal and National parties since the dawn of the 20th century. Despite their fierce rivalry, which caused two civil wars in 1919 and 1924, as well as several smaller uprisings and coups, both parties were understandably seen as nothing more than two competing factions of an elite that was completely submissive to foreign influence and whose only real priority was enriching itself even further.

    Stability finally came with the election of the general Tiburcio Carías Andino, a member of the National Party, in 1932, but this stability came at a great cost, for the president took advantage of the Great Depression and the favorable international context to slowly but surely become a dictator. His long tenure, much like Jorge Ubico's in Guatemala, was marked by harsh repressive measures against the workers, earning Carías the favor of the UHC and of the other dictators surrounding him. Unfortunately for the regime (and thankfully for the Honduran people), things went south after 1944, thanks to the Guatemalan Revolution and the fall of El Salvador's Maximiliano Hernández Martínez. The US government, fearing the unrest would spread further, pressured Carías to allow elections to take place in 1948.

    These elections, which were the first ones to take place in sixteen years, were a complete sham, with the National Party's candidate, Juan Manuel Gálvez, coasting to victory with 99.85% of the vote as the Liberals called for a boycott thanks to the rampant fraud and the fact much of the opposition was still either in prison or exile. However, despite this inauspicious beginning, the Gálvez administration proved itself to be quite different from that of his predecessor, scaling back on the repression and censorship, allowing the opposition to demonstrate, and approving laws which established an income tax and the eight-hour workday, even if they were rarely enforced. At the same time, the Honduran government remained staunchly conservative, and allowed the CIA to set up bases near the border with Guatemala in preparation for their failed attempt to overthrow Jacobo Árbenz.

    The presidential portraits of Carías and Gálvez, respectively.
    By the time the next general election happened, in 1954, the Liberals had thoroughly modernized themselves as a party, and they were ready to return to power after two decades in the wilderness. Their candidate, Ramón Villeda Morales, who was one of the chief architects of the party's transformation, called for extensive social reforms that were eerily similar to those that took place in Guatemala, something that simultaneously terrified the establishment and energized the urban and rural masses behind behind the Liberal campaign. The Nationals, in the meantime, were divided, with Carías Andino seeking to return to the presidency while dissatisfied conservatives supported the splinter candidacy of Abraham Williams Calderón instead.

    The split in the conservative ranks allowed Morales to win the presidential race outright with 50.62% of the vote, and gave the Liberal Party a very small majority in Congress (30 seats out of 59 (1)). The months that followed election day and the next president's inauguration were extremely tense, as there were fears that the military would, with Washington's -- or, more correctly, Langley's -- support, pull off a coup to prevent Honduras from becoming a second Guatemala. But these fears proved themselves to be unfounded, and Ramón Villeda Morales, the first Liberal president in twenty-two years, was inaugurated on January 1, 1955.

    President Villeda Morales in a diplomatic visit to the United States. The man beside him is John F. Kennedy, governor of Massachusetts (2).

    The Morales administration is still seen, to this day, as one of the boldest and most progressive in Honduran history, second only perhaps to that of Modesto Rodas Alvarado, who built on his achievements. From day one he dedicated all of his energies towards ensuring that as many of the policies he defended on the campaign trail as possible were enacted, and as a result, a new labour code was enacted, new social programs created, the regulations stipulating an eight-hour workday and an income tax were enforced more thoroughly, the amount of funds invested in education and public health greatly increased, among other measures that improved the ordinary people's standard of living by a considerable degree.

    But while the president became extremely popular among the poor, his policies also earned him many powerful enemies not only in the military and the large landowners, the groups who traditionally ruled the country, but also outside its borders. And it was beyond Honduras' borders that the individual who was by far the greatest threat to Morales' administration, Anastasio Somoza García, resided. Having governed Nicaragua with an iron fist since 1936, Somoza, an autocratic and corrupt ruler who turned his country into his family's private property and was described by the late American president Franklin D. Roosevelt Sr. as "a son of a bitch, but our son of a bitch", feared that his northern neighbor, now under a progressive government, would provide a refuge for opponents of his dictatorship.

    Somoza sometime during his second presidency.
    It was because of this fear that the dictator maintained constant contacts with dissatisfied elements of the Honduran military, hoping to bring about a coup d'état that would depose Morales and install a more acceptable president in his place. He repeatedly begged the CIA to assist in him in this effort, pleas that went unheeded since the United States, especially from the Suez Crisis onward, had much bigger fish to fry in the Middle East. Already a deeply paranoid individual, as with any autocrat, Somoza's paranoia nevertheless shot through the roof after Rigoberto López Pérez, a poet, tried -- and failed -- to assassinate him at a party on September 21, 1956 (3). Though he escaped unharmed, the attack convinced Somoza that he had to take matters into his own hands.

    It backfired.


    The attack took place in Tegucigalpa, on July 5, 1958. It was supposed to be an ordinary day for the president of Honduras: he would attend several ceremonies, energize his supporters in preparation for the next general election (which was scheduled to take place in 1960), inaugurate public works throughout the capital, make a few speeches, kiss babies, typical politician stuff. And so the day went by, uneventfully, until he climbed on a podium from which he was supposed to deliver a speech to a crowd made up not only of adoring commoners, but also prominent personalities from the military, clergy and businesspeople.

    That was when all hell broke loose: a bomb, which had been planted by two men -- Nicaraguan agents -- right underneath the place Morales was supposed to stand on, blew up, the explosion and resulting chaos killing five people and wounding dozens of others. And yet the president was not among the dead, for he was a couple meters away from the hidden explosive: because of this, he, instead of being blown into smithereens, "merely" suffered multiple severe burns and was immediately rushed to the closest hospital, where his wounds were treated and his condition stabilized. But Morales was not only alive, he was also conscious and, most importantly, still able to speak.

    Because of this, the Honduran president -- his body covered in bandages and stuck to a hospital bed -- was able to address his people and prove to the world -- and Somoza -- that he was still alive and that the country's stability would not be harmed. During his speech, which lasted only a few minutes thanks to his wounds, Morales denounced the Nicaraguan dictatorship's role in the attack, calling said regime a "satrapy" and its ruler a "prehistoric animal incompatible with the twentieth century". In the days that followed, the Honduran government formally denounced Nicaragua to the Organization of American States, which began to discuss deploying sanctions against it.

    Once "only" wildly popular, Ramón Villeda Morales was now practically a saint. Meanwhile, the only thing Somoza accomplished with this mess was turning himself into an international pariah.
    The Cuban Revolution

    "Oh my God, that son of a bitch actually did it!"
    - Fidel Castro upon learning of Batista's fate.

    Unlike most of its fellow dictatorships all over Central America and the Caribbean, the island of Cuba actually had a history, however brief it may have been, of being under a democratic government. Despite being the banana republic most closely supervised by the US, with the infamous Platt Amendment in particular allowing Washington to interfere in Cuban affairs whenever it felt its interests were threatened, the country's situation slowly took a turn for the better after 1933, with the overthrow of the dictator Gerardo Machado and the abolishment of the already mentioned amendment, which happened the following year.

    The period ranging from 1933 to 1944 was dominated by a military strongman named Fulgencio Batista, who ran the country first through a string of puppet presidents (the first of which, Ramón Grau, was forced to resign after becoming too independent for his tastes), then, from 1940 onward, as a democratically elected president. An effective leader who governed with the support of the socialists and the communists (the aptly named Democratic Socialist Coalition), earning him the distrust of the United States, Batista's tenure was marked by social programs, protections for labour unions, as well as the right to strike, all of which were enshrined in a new constitution (4). However, despite his popularity, the president's handpicked candidate, Carlos Saladrigas Zayas, was defeated in the 1944 presidential election by none other than Grau and his Authentic Revolutionary Party.

    Although he was less than pleased and reportedly sabotaged the administration as much as possible to ensure his successor had a hard time governing Cuba, Batista nevertheless handed the presidency over to Grau without incident in October 10, 1944, creating an important precedent of peacefully handing over power to the opposition.

    Fulgencio Batista and his successor, Ramón Grau.
    It was under the Grau administration that the weak foundations of Cuba's young democracy slowly began to crumble. Not only did the island's society remain profoundly unequal despite multiple positive changes, something that generated considerable discontent among the poor, but the new president had to contend with a legislature controlled by the opposition. To make matters worse, several members of his cabinet were caught in corruption scandals, and soon enough his initial popularity faded to the point he had to deploy the army to restore order on certain occasions. However, despite these failings, Grau remained a staunch believer in the democratic system - to the point he backed a failed attempt to overthrow Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo in 1947 - and popular enough to ensure the rise of his protégé, Carlos Prío Socarrás, to the presidency in the 1948 election.

    Prío's administration, in spite of successes such as multiple public works projects, the creation of a national bank, and having a majority in the legislature, ultimately proved itself to be more of the same, if not even worse when it came to corruption. By the time 1952, an election year, came along, the Authentic Party candidate, Carlos Hevia, was in second place while Roberto Agramonte, a member of the left-leaning Orthodox Party, led the race. Fulgencio Batista, hoping to return to the presidency after eight years out of power, also presented himself as a candidate, but he was stuck in third place, behind both Agramonte and Hevia by a very wide margin.

    So he seized power by force through a military coup in March 10, 1952, three months before the elections were supposed to take place, suspended the very constitution he helped create and abolished the right to strike. His new government, which was a far cry from his first, progressive tenure and earned recognition from the US seventeen days later, turned what was a relatively prosperous if still deeply divided nation into a dictatorial, crime-infested hellhole that could be best described as less a country and more of a gigantic playground for rich foreign tourists and mafiosos. Graft exploded to extraordinary levels, with Batista and the members of his inner circle becoming extremely rich at the same time that only one in three Cubans had access to running water.​
    This was an unacceptable state of affairs for a great many people, and soon enough unrest began to rise up, as well as plots against the government. The first organized attempt to overthrow Batista was led by Fidel Castro, a young attorney and member of the Orthodox Party, who led a small group in an attack against the Moncada Barracks in July 26, 1953. Though his plan failed and he was jailed for two years, Castro avoided execution and was instead exiled to Mexico, where he, his brother Raúl and other revolutionaries immediately began to plan their return to the island (5). Another attempt to get rid of Batista came from the Cuban military itself, in April 1956, when the popular army colonel Ramón Barquín led a failed coup that ended with him and several other officers being stripped of their ranks and imprisoned in the Isle of Pines.
    fidel castro.jpg

    A beardless and exiled Fidel Castro calling for Batista's removal.

    It was clear, by 1957, that the dictatorship was going to fall. On December of the previous year, Fidel and his fellow revolutionaries, forming a group known as the 26th of July Movement, returned to Cuba in a yacht named Granma and, after a clash with government troops that nearly wiped them out, entrenched themselves in the extremely thick mountain jungles of the Sierra Maestra, from which they launched hit-and-run attacks on the military and slowly gathered sympathizers to their cause. Said military, meanwhile, was weak and demoralized thanks to the purges that happened in the aftermath of Barquín's coup attempt, and they were unable to stop guerrillas' activities even though they outnumbered them to a ridiculous degree.

    Batista's obsession with killing Castro and his colleagues proved to be his undoing. While more and more soldiers were shipped eastward to hunt down a few dozen men who shouldn't have been anything other than a nuisance, a much more dangerous group of rebels was organizing and acquiring weapons for itself in Havana, right under the secret police's nose. These people belonged to an organization known as the Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil (Revolutionary Students' Directorate), which was made up primarily of university students and was led by José Antonio Echeverría, a card-carrying member of the Authentic Party and a staunch anti-communist, unlike Castro, who was willing to work with them even if he himself always denied being a Red (6).

    Finally, after months of careful preparations, the DRE made their move on March 13, 1957, three days after the dictatorship's fifth birthday. On the afternoon, two heavily armed assault teams suddenly attacked the presidential palace, killed the guards and burst into the building, after which they encountered an absolutely baffled Batista, who didn't have the chance to do so much as utter a single word before the revolutionaries unloaded their guns on him (7). With their mission complete and the dictator nothing more than a mangled corpse full of bullet holes, the students promptly ran back to their vehicles and escaped before the police and the military arrived.

    The only known photo of the attack on the Presidential Palace.
    Meanwhile, a third team, led by Echeverría himself, took over Radio Reloj, Havana's main radio station, and broadcast the news of Batista's assassination (or, as people still call it there, "ajusticiamiento" -- his just punishment), urging the Cuban people to rise up in arms against the now leaderless dictatorship. It was an absolutely insane gambit, for Echeverría would personally admit years later that he didn't know Batista had been killed until long after the fact -- but it still worked, and by the end of the day the people of Havana burst into celebration after it was confirmed that their hated dictator was now dead.

    The man who took over in the aftermath of the attack, vice president Rafael Guas Inclán, dismantled the secret police and signed a decree which, among other things, abolished the censorship of the press and declared that the thousands of political prisoners under the regime's custody were now free. After that, he fled to Miami and left things under the care of a civilian-military junta whose role would be to ensure that new elections would be held within the year and the 1940 constitution restored.

    José Antonio Echeverría, leader of the Cuban Revolution.
    If the Guatemalan Revolution proved to the world that it was possible for Central America to walk a different path and free itself from its dictators, the Cuban Revolution proved that their days were numbered.


    (1) IOTL, Morales won 48.1% of the vote, a plurality but not enough for him to be elected outright. This caused a political crisis that led to a military coup before he was finally made president in 1957. Unfortunately, he was overthrown in 1963 after it became clear that the Liberal Party's candidate, Modesto Rodas Alvarado, would win that year's election by a huge margin and have a massive mandate with which to enact sweeping social reforms.

    (2) That's right, *governor* of Massachusetts.

    (3) IOTL Somoza was shot and died a few days later. Here he isn't, but the stress and paranoia make him lose his marbles to the point he does what Rafael Trujillo did against Rómulo Betancourt, with very similar consequences.

    (4) I swear, Batista's biography is basically one huge
    Face-Heel Turn.

    (5) Guevara isn't among these revolutionaries since he never met the Castro brothers.

    (6) Castro won't have the chance to show his true colors ITTL.

    (7) The DRE's attack against Batista *almost* worked IOTL. Unfortunately for them, Batista had left his office about half an hour sooner than he usually did, so he survived and the students, panicking, were almost all killed in a firefight inside the palace. Meanwhile, Echeverría, who had no idea of the assassins' failure, invaded Radio Reloj and announced the news of the dictator's death... to a dead microphone. Seriously, they were so close to success it's frustrating to read about it.
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    Foreign Snapshot: Death of an Empire, Birth of a Nation
  • ------------------
    Foreign Snapshot: Death of an Empire, Birth of a Nation

    The Middle East was, for thousands of years, one of the richest regions on Earth. As the birthplace of some of the oldest civilizations of the world and the nerve center of countless empires throughout the milennia, from Babylon to the Achaemenids and the Arab caliphates, an immesaurable number of historians, travelers and other intellectuals wrote glowingly of its magnificent cities, mighty sovereigns and and so on. Which made its predicament in the early to mid twentieth century all the more depressing.

    With the slow decline of the Ottoman Empire, a process that finally ended with its dissolution at the end of WWI and the partition of its majority Arab territories between the foremost imperialist powers of the time, France and Great Britain, with the former gaining Syria and Lebanon and the latter gaining Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Palestine. This partition, the Sykes-Picot Agreement, happened despite the promise London made to the Arabs during their revolt against their Ottoman overlords that they would be given their own state, one which stretched from Aleppo in Syria to Aden in Yemen and would be led by the scions of the Hashemite dynasty.

    By 1952, while it was clear that the imperialists were on their way out, with Syria and Lebanon having gained their independence from France six years prior, Iraq and Jordan technically being sovereign monarchies in their own right, they still had a lot of influence, with the monarchies in particular (both of which were led by Hashemite kings) being seen as nothing more than foreign puppets. To make things even more complicated, the existence of the state of Israel, which was founded in 1948 with the partition of Palestine, caused a great amount of upheaval in the Arab world, starting with a brief but brutal war that led to the forced displacement of as many as 700.000 Palestinian civilians in an event known as the Nakba, as well as the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from Arab countries.

    The first puppet regime to fall was Egypt, which was under British tutelage since 1882. Governed by Farouk I, a kleptocratic, bloated caricature of a king and member of the Muhammad Ali dynasty, it was extremely easy for the revolutionaries, led by Mohammed Naguib (an army general and hero of the Arab-Israeli War) and Gamal Abdel Nasser (a lieutenant colonel) to find an excuse to overthrow him, and the monarchy fell with a bloodless revolution in July 23, 1952. Though the institution was nominally kept at first, with Farouk abdicating in the name of his infant son Fuad, all real power was concentrated in the hands of Naguib, who became prime minister, and Nasser, who became minister of the interior, with the monarchy being abolished and replaced by a republic less than a year later.

    Naguib and Nasser in the middle of celebrations marking the second anniversary of the revolution.
    The new government immediately enacted a land reform that broke the power of the old aristocracy, which before that owned more than two thirds of the country's fertile land and imposed abusive rents on the small farmers and peasants who lived inside their properties. This measure, along with others such as the dissolution of the Wafd Party, which dominated Egyptian politics before the revolution and was seen as corrupt and submissive to British interests, made the Naguib-Nasser duo extremely popular among the common people and earned the ire of the elite, which was nevertheless unable to do anything to stop the change since, unlike in regions such as Latin America, the military was dominated by progressive officers who had no interest in halting or reversing the ongoing changes.

    However, not all was well in the young Egyptian Arab Republic, especially in its upper echelons. President Naguib, whose main purpose in the revolution was to serve as a respectable figurehead for an organization that was made up of and put in motion primarily by junior officers, was growing tired of his ceremonial role and desired to take some genuine political power for himself, running straight into the ambitions of the real leader of the Free Officers Movement, Nasser. They also had differences in policy, with the former having more liberal views and the latter defending that more power should be put in the hands of the military. Because of this, the two men, seen as inseparable allies by the public, were secretly engaged in a bitter struggle that came to a dramatic end on October 26, 1954.

    That day, Nasser was in Alexandria, where he was supposed to make a speech, meant to be heard throughout the Arab world, celebrating the conclusion of an agreement with London which determined that the last British troops still in Egypt would withdraw in 1956. That was when an armed gunman named Mahmoud Abdel-Latif, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (a party at odds with the the republican government thanks to its secularist ideology - Nasser publicly laughed at their proposal of forcing women to wear hijabs and implementing Sharia law), emerged from the crowd and fired eight shots at him. Three bullets found their mark, and although the prime minister was rushed to the nearest hospital with great haste, he was pronounced dead on arrival. He was just thirty-six years old (1).

    Nasser's funeral gathered millions of mourners in Cairo.
    Nasser's death was followed first by an outpouring of grief, then a deafening roar of rage as his murderer's political affiliation was discovered. The Brotherhood's headquarters in Cairo were ransacked by an angry mob, and the organization's leader, Sayyid Qutb, fled to Saudi Arabia (where he would spend the rest of his life) to avoid being lynched (2). It was during this moment of chaos that Naguib, whose influence had been in the wane since since earlier in the year, seized the chance to become Egypt's undisputed leader. Backed by the people, he declared the Brotherhood a terrorist organization and subjected it to a vigorous crackdown which eventually also engulfed the rest of the opposition, with thousands of dissidents being arrested and all press releases put under close scrutiny. In fact, Naguib's consolidation of power after the assassination was so sudden and thorough that, to this day, some people still believe he was the one who ordered it (3).

    With all of his potential adversaries either mollified, jailed or exiled, the president was now free to pursue his own policies without much trouble, at least for the moment. The Revolutionary Command Council, the military junta which governed Egypt since the revolution, was first stacked with officers loyal to him, then dissolved a few months later, and new elections were promised to take place in 1956. On the administrative level, some members of the still clandestine Wafd Party were allowed to take minor roles in the bureaucracy, and although they were forced to swear an oath to not attempt to reverse any of the ongoing reforms, their presence marked a gradual turn to the right, one that was kept in check by the army.

    This shift was also felt on foreign policy, since although Egypt was technically neutral in the Cold War and Naguib himself participated in the Bandung Conference, the government as a whole took on a more pro-US stance by doing things such as refusing to recognize the People's Republic of China and persecuting the communists within its borders (4). He was handsomely rewarded for this with two things that were crucial to ensure Egypt's economic and military modernization, respectively: first, a loan of $270 million from the US and Great Britain to help with the construction of the Aswan Dam, an absolutely critical infrastructure project, and second, $83 million worth of weapons, bought under the promise that they would be used only in self defense (5).

    A new Egypt was rising, but not everyone was happy about it.

    Naguib in a meeting with Jefferson Caffery, the American ambassador.
    The president's cordial relations with former Wafd Party members, the United States and especially Great Britain ruffled many feathers in the army, especially among those who once belonged to the Free Officers Movement. To them, it seemed as if he was about to do something such as joining the Baghdad Pact or perhaps even restore the monarchy.

    Both of these choices were obviously politically suicidal, of course, especially now that the radio and the press were flooded with articles praising Naguib's heroism in the Arab-Israeli War (the source of his nationalist credentials) and the success of the reforms, but still, the threat of these dissatisfied officers - such as Abdel Hakim Amer and Ali Sabri, two close allies of the late Gamal Abdel Nasser - launching a coup was not to be underestimated. Something drastic had to be done, something that would prove beyond every shadow of a doubt that Naguib was, in fact, a leader whose main concern was the well being of his own country and its people, instead of one who was nothing more than a foreign puppet, much like the hated Hashemite kings of Jordan and Iraq.

    So he nationalized the Suez Canal on July 26, 1956. The official justification for this move was that its vast profits were necessary to ensure that the Aswan Dam and other important projects were completed on time. However, this statement was immediately followed by a resounding condemnation of European colonialism, and that the canal belonged to Egypt alone not only because it was located on Egyptian soil, but also because tens of thousands of native workers died in its construction. Naguib's speech was received by enormous, jubilant crowds not only in cities like Cairo and Alexandria, but also in Amman, Baghdad and Damascus, whose populations now saw him as the champion of Arab nationalism, in opposition to French and especially British imperialism.

    Smoke rises from oil tanks struck during the Anglo-French assault to Port Said.

    London and Paris were, predictably, furious. On October 29, after months of preparations, they, along with Israel, invaded Egypt, occupying the Canal Zone (which was sabotaged beforehand, making it useless) and the Sinai. A little more than a week later, however, the world's two real superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union, like two adults scolding a pair of children, demanded that the invaders stand down and withdraw. France and Britain, both thouroughly humiliated, had no choice but to comply, lest their economies suffer a blow they could not withstand. The age of European colonial empires had truly come to an end, and only Israel got something decent out of the whole mess, namely the reopening of the Straits of Tiran, which had been closed off to their ships since 1950.

    Of course, this prize was nothing compared to the gigantic surge of prestige Naguib experienced as a result of his diplomatic victory. His already famous name was now spoken of in the entire Arab world, from Marrakesh to Tripoli to Basra, and the already rising phenomenon of Arab nationalism became a torrent whose effects were immediately felt among Egypt's neighbors. Some more radical elements even talked about perhaps uniting their respective countries with Egypt so as to create one, single united nation that would be able to puts its minor regional squabbles aside and assert itself as one of the great powers in the world, one which would no longer require foreign aid to sustain itself.​

    naguib cairo.jpg

    Naguib receiving a hero's welcome in Cairo.

    Jordan, sandwiched between the republics of Egypt and Syria, felt the effects of this Pan-Arab wave almost immediately. Its young king, Hussein, had to play a dangerous balancing act: he would be seen as a foreign puppet if he tried to swim against the current, but, at the same time, if the republicans in his country gained too much ground, they would almost certainly depose him. Thus, he first dismissed all British officers from the army, then allowed democratic elections to take place in October 1956, right before the Suez Crisis. These elections brought Suleiman Nabulsi, a nationalist who previously served as minister of finance and later as ambassador to Great Britain, to the position of prime minister. Then, when the tripartite invasion of Egypt happened days later, an infuriated Hussein almost intervened militarily in the conflict on the defenders' side, but was convinced by Nabulsi to stay put and wait for future developments.

    However, as the months passed, relations between the king and the prime minister dramatically, with the latter defending a closer alignment with Egypt and Syria, which were discussing the potential unitification of their countries (talks quietly encouraged by Washington, which feared Syria's government could be taken over by communists), and the former that ties with Britain should be maintained. By April 1957 it was obvious that a compromise could not be reached, and Nabulsi's dismissal was imminent. However, the prime minister had already been in talks with Ali Abu Nuwar, a fellow nationalist and chief of staff of the Jordanian Army, and silently elaborated a conspiracy to depose the king.

    That conspiracy came to fruition on the morning of April 8, when Hussein was suddenly detained in the royal palace by soldiers loyal to the plotters and forced at gunpoint to sign a statement declaring his abdication. Then, less than an hour later, the legislature, largely dominated by Pan-Arabists but still placed under the watchful eyes of Nuwar's troops, declared the end of the monarchy and the creation of the Jordanian Arab Republic, with prime minister Nabulsi unanimously proclaimed as its first president. Several more prominent royalists were detained as time went by, and by the end of the day they, along with the royal family, were allowed to go to exile (6).

    With the arm-wrestling match between the nationalists and the conservatives ending with a victory for the former, the Jordanian government promptly dispatched messages to Cairo and Damascus indicating its desire to participate in their ongoing talks, which was welcomed by Naguib and Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli.

    An ominous photo from 1956 showing Hussein addressing the army and Nuwar in the background.
    It was only a matter of time before Iraq, now the last Hashemite monarchy left, shared the fate of its western neighbor. The republicans there, led by Abdul Salam Arif and Abd al-Karim Qasim, launched their coup, which was much more brutal than the one that took place in Jordan, in December 1957 (7). Despite surrendering without any resistance, the entire royal family, along with prime minister Nuri al-Said, was executed by firing squad, and the corpses of al-Said and crown prince 'Abd al-Ilah were dragged through the streets, torn apart, then burned by an angry mob. Multiple other human rights violations took place as the new government asserted its authority over the country and local groups, linked to it by varying degrees, took advantage of the chaos to settle old, often personal scores.

    A rift appeared between Arif and Qasim soon after their victory, with the former endorsing joining the still hypothetical but increasingly promising federation that was forming between Syria, Egypt and Jordan, while the latter, who was more of an Iraqi rather than Arab nationalist, defending closer ties with the communists and the Soviet Union. The power struggle that ensued was won by Arif, who became president, outlawed the Iraqi Communist Party and stacked the government with members of the Ba'ath Party, which also had members in Syria and, predictably, supported Arab unification. Qasim, meanwhile, was stripped of his ranks and would spend the rest of his life under house arrest (8).

    Finally, after months of negotiations involving representatives from Cairo, Amman, Damascus and Baghdad, which were lengthened thanks to the addition of Jordan and later Iraq to the talks, the United Arab Republic was proclaimed on May 15, 1958 (9). A federation whose republics were largely autonomous in their internal affairs, its seat of power was located in Cairo, where its president - the first man to take the post was, unsurprisingly, Mohammed Naguib - and legislature, composed of 700 members, resided. Stretching fom the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf, it was home to approximately 38 million people and multiple religious denominations, from Sunnis and Shiites, to Coptic and Assyrian Christians, to Alawites, Druze and Yazidis (10).

    It was a mighty, terrifying new country that would completely revolutionize politics in the Middle East - and create its own little equivalent of the Cold War.


    (1) Nasser survived the attack unscathed IOTL.

    (2) IOTL, Qutb was executed in 1966.

    (3) Nasser also used the attack as a convenient excuse to purge his opponents - Naguib among them - IOTL.

    (4) IOTL, Nasser made moves that drew him closer to the East Bloc - stuff like recognizing the PRC. The Egyptian communists were still persecuted though.

    (5) Nasser didn't accept the American conditions IOTL. That, along with his friendly relations to the USSR, made Washington withdraw its loan to help build the Aswan Dam.

    (6) IOTL, Hussein first dismissed Nabulsi then Nuwar a few days later after an alleged coup attempt. Here, the nationalists are quicker on the draw and get rid of him first.

    (7) The Iraqi coup happened in July 1958 IOTL. Here, the Jordanian coup's success emboldens the conspirators, who act sooner as a result.

    (8) Qasim triumphed over Arif IOTL and kept Iraq out of the UAR.

    (9) The UAR was proclaimed on February IOTL.

    (10) IOTL, Nasser basically turned Syria (the only other member of the UAR) into an Egyptian province and ordered that its political parties be abolished. As a result, Syria left the union in 1961 after a coup d'état overthrew Abdel Hakim Amer, his representative there. The federation is much looser ITTL, but it doesn't mean keeping it together will be an easy task, especially since its neighbors - Turkey, Iran, Libya, Saudi Arabia and, of course, tiny little Israel - are, pardon my wording, shitting bricks right now.
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    Part 8: 1960 Presidential election
  • ------------------
    Part 8: 1960 Presidential Election

    "What goes around, comes around" is a saying that could definitely be used to describe the Brazilian right's predicament in 1960. Having been in government since Getúlio Vargas' suicide in 1954, prominent conservatives such as Carlos Lacerda, Magalhães Pinto and, of course, president Etelvino Lins, were increasingly unpopular, exhausted, and beset by numerous scandals involving misuse of public funds and general sleaze implicating not only themselves, but also several other minor politicians on their end of the political spectrum. The most aggressive headlines were, unsurprisingly, the ones published by Última Hora, which denounced, among other things, the existence of a nefarious far-right deep state operating behind the federal government's back, an accusation that gained a lot of credence after the attempted assassination of João Goulart and the coverup that followed.
    charge lacerda 1.jpg

    Lacerda's incessant barking came back to bite him.

    As the election year dawned, some among the usual suspects, namely the right and the military, were already arguing in secret that said election should be postponed to a later date in the name of national security, lest the "subversives" interfere. Their voices, much like in 1954, went unheeded, and every voter, from the lowliest (literate) peasant to the wealthiest businessman, knew that he or she would cast a ballot on October 3. The only question remaining, of course, was who they were supposed to vote for.

    Much like in 1955, the first major politician to officially announce his intention to run for the presidency was PSD's Juscelino Kubitschek. However, the former governor's position in the party was severely weakened: he was out of elective office for five years, which was practically a lifetime considering how fast things were changing. Despite this, his campaign was enthusiastically supported by the Ala Moça, especially his fellow mineiro Tancredo Neves, who hoped to become governor of Minas Gerais the same year. Unfortunately for them, the conservatives, led by Benedito Valadares and José Francisco Bias Fortes - incumbent senator and governor of Minas, respectively - didn't even bother to hide their intentions of forging an alliance with UDN instead.

    Thus, when the PSD convention happened on February 17, 1960, Juscelino, despite receiving the most votes out of every possible candidate by far (his "opponents", who were nothing more than names on a list for his adversaries to vote for, were Ernâni do Amaral Peixoto, Nereu Ramos and Gustavo Capanema), didn't win an absolute majority, and was denied the nomination as a result. The convention dragged on for several days, but the gridlock continued until, finally, after the 20th ballot, the exhausted and infuriated progressive delegates walked out, declaring that Juscelino had been stolen out of the nomination by the party bosses and delivering a mortal blow to what was once Brazil's largest and most powerful political party (1).

    While the collapse of PSD was not entirely unexpected, UDN also went through a surprisingly close convention. Carlos Lacerda openly declared that he was interested in running for the presidency as soon as 1958, but only formalized his campaign much later. In the meantime, he used his vast connections both at home and abroad to silently buy off any potential opponents, ensuring that his nomination would be a truly crushing victory. However, finance minister Magalhães Pinto suddenly announced his intention to run for president, quietly backed by the incumbent officeholder, Etelvino Lins, who feared that the Crow's controversial reputation would weaken his chances in the general election and allow a "subversive" to win. Lacerda easily won the nomination anyway, taking the votes of more than 60% of the delegates, but this was nothing like the near unanimous acclamation he desired.

    Despite this setback, the odds were still in the Crow's favor, for not only did he enjoy the near unanimous support of the press and was very generously funded by national and foreign businesspeople, his running mate was Jorge Lacerda, the governor of Santa Catarina, who was extremely popular in his home state and the rest of the South. Jorge did have one glaring weakness, however: he was a fascist. In fact, he was so deeply involved in the Brazilian integralist movement that he took part in Plínio Salgado's failed attempt to depose Getúlio Vargas in 1938, something Última Hora would bring up countless times throughout the campaign to great effect.

    The UDN ticket: Carlos Lacerda (DF) for president, and Jorge Lacerda (SC) for vice-president, respectively.
    PTB, whose bigwigs initially hoped to play second fiddle to PSD, as was tradition, was the last of the three main parties to formally present its ticket. Its most prominent members - among them João Goulart, Leonel Brizola, Lutero Vargas, Fernando Ferrari, Roberto Silveira and Osvaldo Aranha - arranged a meeting to hammer out a consensus on who would be the petebistas' presidential candidate, in order to avoid a contested convention like the one that destroyed Juscelino's candidacy and took PSD along with it. It didn't take long for most of the participants to settle on a name - Goulart. He would certainly be a strong candidate in the general election, since his wealthy background assuaged some of the more progressive members of the bourgeioisie (of course, a great many of them would still think that PTB was nothing more than a bunch of Reds), while his actions as Minister of Labour during Getúlio Vargas' second administration earned him the near unanimous support of the labour unions.

    There was only one individual who disagreed with this, and he was, of course, Leonel Brizola, who, intoxicated by his meteoric rise to prominence, wanted to take the top spot of the ticket for himself. The others disagreed, of course, for they considered the man to be too young, too untested in national politics and, most importantly, too incendiary for his own good. But the 38 year old former governor, who had never faced a single defeat since his political career began in 1947, was at this point incapable of taking no for an answer, and to make matters worse, he had many, many supporters among the rank-and-file of the party, especially in the southern sections, which were disproportionately powerful: while a complete split was unlikely, thanks to Jango's popularity, a major disagreement in the convention would cause a lot of damage.

    So Goulart - who would later admit that he wasn't that eager to run for president anyway, thanks to his very close brush with death - bit the bullet and declined to lead the ticket, effectively handing it to Brizola (2). However, in exchange for that, the second spot was given to Argemiro de Figueiredo, senator and former governor of Paraíba. The two men couldn't be more different from one another: Argemiro was a generation older, and much more conservative as a result, having run his home state as a dictator during his gubernatorial term (1935-40 (3)). Most damningly, he was a member of UDN - a moderate one, but still - until 1958, when his disagreements with the Banda de Música became too severe to be papered over and he voluntarily left the party since his expulsion was inevitable at that point (4).

    Brizola accepted this compromise with few, if any, reservations: he had, after all, negotiated with fascists to secure his election as governor of Rio Grande do Sul, and if having a northeastern coronel as a running mate was the price he had to pay to become president, then so be it (5).

    The PTB ticket: Leonel Brizola (RS) for president, and Argemiro de Figueiredo (PB) for vice-president.
    With the battle lines now clearly drawn, and with both the left and the right having seemingly disposed of their moderates and empowered their loudest radicals, it was, unfortunately, only a matter of time before the race got very ugly and vitriolic. The first clashes took place in the press, where various newspapers published headlines exaggerating their favorite candidates' strengths and underestimating their opponents', while also allowing various cartoons and caricatures mocking one side or the other to circulate freely throughout their papers. As time went by, the articles became increasingly accusatory and slanderous, and the cartoons outright offensive, with Lacerda being depicted as either a Nazi, an American puppet or both, while Brizola was portrayed as a dangerous, sneaky agitator paid by Moscow.

    The first serious street battle took place in Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais, on May 1. A group of the PTB supporters, simultaneously campaigning for their candidates and celebrating the International Workers' Day, were attacked by far-right militants belonging to a group that called itself the Comando de Caça aos Comunistas - "Command for Hunting Communists" (6). Police were called to the scene, but they just stood and watched the fight unfold, only intervening with their batons when it seemed that the petebistas were about to turn the tide. Scenes such as this - and local law enforcement's blatant bias - would repeat themselves all over the country throughout the campaign, with petebistas being kept from campaigning in udenista strongholds and vice-versa. It was an ominous sign of what was to come.
    charge lacerda.jpg

    No comment.
    A third contender entered the ring the in July, one whose participation, much like in 1955, would decide the election's outcome: the disgraced former governor of São Paulo, Ademar de Barros. With his once mighty political machine reduced to tatters thanks to the actions of the new man in charge of the state, Franco Montoro, Ademar's candidacy was less a genuine shot to get into the Catete Palace and more of a desperate final attempt to remain politically relevant in a political landscape that was becoming increasingly hostile to him. His rhetoric crossed the line separating mere populism from open demagoguery - as was to be expected from a politician already infamous for his corruption - and was dominated by vague, lofty promises of new social programs and pharaonic public works projects such as gigantic new highways, swaying millions of working class people who would've most likely voted for Brizola otherwise.

    Smaller parties and informal factions also played a critical part in the presidential race's final result. Regarding the former, PSB and PST supported the petebista candidacy, creating a coalition that was known as the Popular Front, an obvious attempt to compare Brizola's candidacy to that of Salvador Allende in Chile, while PSC allowed its members to endorse whoever they wanted - most of them supported Lacerda, although Montoro, who spent most of the time lambasting his predecessor's doomed campaign, gave an interview in which he stated that Brazil was in urgent need of reforms, something that was seen as a subtle endorsement of Brizola's proposals. As for the latter, nearly all members of the Ala Moça campaigned on Brizola's behalf, with a select few staying neutral, while the bulk of the members of UDN's Bossa Nova, too conservative to openly endorse Brizola but too progressive to campaign on Lacerda's behalf, backed Ademar instead.

    Tensions reached a fever pitch in September. With election day just weeks away, any slip up would have catastrophic effects for either of the main candidates, which made the developments that happened in the month, given the very appropriate name of "September surprises", all the more nauseating (7). The first surprise came straight from Moscow: Luís Carlos Prestes, leader of the Brazilian Communist Party and an exile since 1957, issued a statement instructing the hundreds of thousands of communists (a number large enough to swing a close election) scattered throughout Brazil to campaign and vote for Brizola to keep the "fascists" and "wannabe dictators" of the right from scoring another victory (8).

    It didn't take long for the conservatives to get their hands on a copy of this letter, and when they did, their reaction was immediate and vicious: in a matter of days, right-wing newspapers such as O Globo, Folha de São Paulo and Tribuna da Imprensa pumped out headlines in which they declared they had finally discovered the "smoking gun" that proved Brizola was nothing more than a conniving Red, one who was ready to plunge Brazil into a bloody revolution on behalf of his shadowy Soviet masters. The general in charge of the Fourth Army (based in Recife), Artur da Costa e Silva, remarked that, if the "subversive elements" won the election after this scandal, the Armed Forces would have no choice but to intervene in order to "preserve democracy and the Constitution" (9). The incumbent vice-president, Bento Munhoz da Rocha, condemned this statement, but his voice was a lonely one. Everyone else in the government either didn't care about what Costa e Silva said or, most likely, agreed with him.

    While the PTB campaign rejected Prestes' endorsement, and its candidate made a long and aggressive speech condemning the ills of Communism and defending the right to own private property, everyone knew he was preaching to the choir at this point, and a huge part of said choir was now under the sway of Ademar de Barros.

    But politics were - and still are, of course - notoriously unpredictable. This was a lesson Lacerda, whose victory now seemed assured, learned years ago. But it seemed that one time wasn't enough. This second lesson took place in Rio de Janeiro - again - and on September 15 - again (10). That day, the local teachers' union, tired of the lack of investments on public education (resources were diverted to private schools instead) and DOPS' heavy-handed practices, went on strike. It was supposed to be a nuisance, a minor scuffle, and the police acted accordingly - or, at least, it was supposed to. The union's headquarters were stormed, its occupants beaten with batons then arrested. The attack left two people dead, both of them from severe head trauma, and many others were wounded.

    Outrage followed. Rallies, strikes and marches were organized in several major cities throughout Brazil as a show of solidarity to the martyred teachers, whose names were chanted nonstop, and even the most rabidly conservative newspapers were, for the moment, unable to spin the whole mess in the Crow's favor. Brizola, never a man to mince words on such an occasion, would declare in an interview that the events in the national capital showed "who is the real Red here" - an obvious reference to the blood of the workers metaphorically staining his adversary's clothes.

    "The strike continues"
    October 3rd - election day - finally arrived. Millions of people - over 13 million, to be exact - urban and rural, rich and poor, went to their respect voting stations to secretly cast their ballots. Party organizers from both sides, who tirelessly campaigned on behalf of their candidates for months on end, reported record breaking turnouts in their respective districts. The only thing they could do now was return to their homes, turn on their radios and wait for the results, which would come in a painfully slow trickle as city after city counted its ballots, to be announced.
    eleição 1960.PNG


    Brizola's surprisingly large margin of victory - almost nine percentage points, which translated into a lead of more than a million votes - was created by more than just Lacerda's last minute scandal. As the opposition candidate, the former governor framed his campaign as one of change, and centered said campaign around a number of bold proposals that became known as the Reformas de Base - the Basic Reforms - which were enthusiastically backed by the urban labour unions and land reform activists throughout the countryside and included measures such as a bonus payment equivalent to an extra wage (the thirteenth salary), the creation of a national healthcare system funded by the government and larger investments in public education.

    Lacerda, despite the polishing brought by the millions of foreign dollars were funneled into his campaign, was seen as someone representing a government that had run out of ideas, and the fact most of his speeches, ads and pamphlets were focused on attacking the "communist danger" rather than defend UDN's own proposals certainly didn't help. Nor did the fact that most of Ademar's votes came from the Northeast, as shown by his victories in Alagoas and Maranhão, two states dominated by oligarchs who were, or should've been, loyal to UDN.

    The petebistas were, at face value, euphoric. But there was something wrong in the way the celebrated, little traces of fear or anxiety here and there. How could they not manifest these feelings, when they were fully aware of what was about to happen?


    (1) PSD was an US-style big tent party in a country whose proportional electoral system encouraged or at least didn't punish splits. I'm sure that, had the coup d'état against Jango not occurred in 1964, PSD would've eventually fallen apart.

    (2) While still a polarizing figure ITTL, Brizola isn't as divisive as he was IOTL at this point, since two of his worst scandals - his physical altercation with David Nasser and his verbal attack against army general Antônio Carlos Muricy, which happened during his tenure as a federal deputy after 1962 - were averted. Because of this, as well as his great charisma and personal popularity, the more moderate petebistas tolerate him.

    (3) Argemiro's last three years as governor coincided with the rise of the Estado Novo, which gave him sweeping powers to rule Paraíba as he saw fit. Thanks to this, he had political opponents jailed, newspapers censored, and appointed his younger brother to the position of mayor of Campina Grande.

    (4) Keep in mind that I'm pulling all of this information straight out of my head. However, Argemiro's OTL record, both as a governor and a senator, indicate to me that he was at least open to nationalistic and developmentalist ideas. He helped create Sudene, for example.

    (5) Brizoa's career before the dictatorship strikes me as less of a dogmatic, close-minded radical (something he's often framed as) and more of a power-hungry pot-stirrer who was willing to cause a lot of trouble to get what he wanted.

    (6) IOTL, the CCC was created in 1964 and operated intermittently during the military dictatorship, terrorizing students, clergymen and intellectuals who happened to be political dissidents.

    (7) An obvious reference to the US' October surprise.

    (8) This isn't as crazy as it sounds: during the period their political activities were prohibited (so after 1948), the communists openly endorsed and campaigned for whoever was least likely to persecute them. As a result, they endorsed Getúlio Vargas in 1950, Juscelino Kubitschek in 1955 and Henrique Lott in 1960.

    (9) I'm sure you all know what that really means.

    (10) Flashbacks to ITTL's 1958 Senate election, when a scandal involving a death squad operating within the DF police crippled Lacerda's image and led to the downfall of his candidate, Afonso Arinos.
    Part 9: On the Edge of the Abyss, Part One
  • ------------------
    Part 9: On the Edge of the Abyss, Part One

    Brazil was no stranger to coups. Ever since the Proclamation of the Republic, itself a military takeover, in 1889, the country suffered three more coups (the 1930 Revolution, 1937 and 1945) as well as multiple other failed uprisings, and it was only thanks to Getúlio Vargas' suicide in 1954 that a fourth unlawful seizure of power was averted. It was, therefore, not a surprise that, from 1959 onward, as unrest became increasingly difficult to put under control within the boundaries established by rule of law, that some of the higher ups in the military, especially the Army, began to consider the idea of taking power for themselves in order to silence the "subversive threat" for good. This was, for the moment, merely a hypothesis, since president Etelvino Lins was a reliable, conservative administrator: it was the legislature, especially the Chamber of Deputies, littered with people such as Sérgio Magalhães (PTB-DF), that was the real issue in their eyes.

    Leonel Brizola's presidential candidacy in April 1960 turned what was until then only a subject of theoretical discussions into a true conspiracy, but even so most active generals chose to wait and see what would happen later in the year, since there was still a strong chance Carlos Lacerda could win in October. Of course, the September surprises and their consequences handed the victory to PTB, and it became clear that the only way to preserve the status quo and keep Brazil from "falling under the terrible grip of Communism and its fellow travelers" was by "temporarily" suspending democracy. Many prominent civilians (along with Lacerda, of course, who was very displeased with his electoral defeat to put it mildly), the most important of them being Juracy Magalhães and José Francisco Bias Fortes, governors of Bahia and Minas Gerais respectively, agreed with the plotters' ideas and promised to help them as best as they could when the time was right.

    By early November the conspiracy was fairly organized, with networks and cells throughout the country constantly giving new updates and developments to its leaders, and had the support of the generals who commanded of the four field armies - Aurélio de Lira Tavares, Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco, Antônio Carlos da Silva Muricy and, finally, Artur da Costa e Silva. Their cooperation was of the utmost importance, for they were the ones in charge of the soldiers who would ultimately impose the plotters' will on the streets and repress their opposition.

    The commanders of the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Armies respectively - Lira Tavares, Castelo Branco, Antônio Carlos Muricy and Costa e Silva.

    By mid November they were almost ready to make their move. The plan the conspirators came up with was fairly simple: first, they would convince president Etelvino to declare a state of siege. Then, the field armies would use this excuse to depose the governors most likely to mount a resistance to the coup, and once this task was dealt with they would begin to purge Brazil of "subversive elements".

    The governors meant be deposed were:​
    • Roberto Silveira (RJ), who would be dealt with by Lira Tavares;​
    • André Franco Montoro (SP), who would be seen off by Castelo Branco;​
    • José Loureiro da Silva (RS), who would be handled by Muricy;​
    • Cid Sampaio (PE) and Muniz Falcão (AL), both of whom would be arrested on Costa e Silva's command.​
    Of these five, the one expected to be the most difficult to remove was Loureiro da Silva, since PTB's control over Rio Grande do Sul was so complete at this point that many soldiers agreed with the party's ideas, and if something went wrong they could very well desert, with potentially disastrous consequences.

    On the afternoon of November 23, the day the plotters agreed to set their plan in motion, Carlos Lacerda, who was alone so as to not arouse any suspicion, silently made his way to the Catete Palace, intent on talking with the president, inform him of the conspiracy and finally convince him to declare the state of siege that would give his allies the air of legality needed to decrease resistance to their imminent ultraconservative crusade. But Etelvino was not some pawn whose moves could be easily predicted. No, he was a man, an exhausted man who was forced to deal with the Crow's bullshit for almost five years, and the news of a shadowy plot developing behind his back - just like Última Hora said over and over since the attack against João Goulart - finally broke his patience.

    So instead of declaring a state of siege, the president flat out told Lacerda to take that meticulous plan he came up with and shove it up his ass (1). The Crow, stunned, left the palace, leaving Etelvino alone in his office for a precious few minutes that would decide the fate of Brazil's democracy. In the short amount of time he had left before Lacerda or whoever else was in on this whole thing barged in with more than enough guns to back up their words, he made two telephone calls: first, he contacted Osvino Ferreira Alves, a fiery nationalist who was known as "the people's general", and told him he was to take over Muricy's post as commander of the 3rd Army. Once that was done, Etelvino contacted vice-president Bento Munhoz da Rocha, warned him of the imminent coup and instructed him to go somewhere safe before it was too late.

    The president was in the middle of this second call when Lira Tavares' troops took over the palace. Surrendering himself without any resistance and signing his resignation, he was escorted out and put under house arrest, while a military junta led by Osvaldo Cordeiro de Farias, the Minister of War, took over as Brazil's chief executive. It was him, and not Etelvino as was originally intended, who declared the state of siege and ordered the field armies to execute their part of the plot.
    globo 1964.jpg

    A headline from O Globo supporting the coup. It reads: "We are at a crossroads: Democracy or Communism"
    A wave of repression ensured in the capital, with thousands of leftists, trade unionists and people who just looked suspicious being arrested, while the legislature was shut down and Última Hora's headquarters were ransacked. Barely half an hour later, Munhoz da Rocha was caught while attempting to escape to São Paulo, while in Niterói Roberto Silveira was deposed before he could do so much as issue a statement about the ongoing developments. As the sun set, thousands of soldiers, backed up by tanks and other military vehicles, patrolled the streets of Rio de Janeiro, an eerie sign that a long and grim night was about to begin for its inhabitants.

    The situation was completely different in São Paulo. Whether by chance or fate, Franco Montoro was inside the gubernatorial palace when the coup took place, and was therefore capable of organizing a response that kept him from suffering Silveira's fate. Minutes after the state of siege was declared, the governor ordered the military police to be mobilized, ostensibly to maintain public order, and soon enough multiple strategic locations in multiple cities throughout the state were occupied, including several radio stations. The gubernatorial residence, meanwhile, was turned into a fortress, surrounded by sandbags and machine gun nests, and it was from this "citadel of freedom and civilization" that Montoro issued a lengthy statement announcing his intention to resist the coup in every possible way. An excerpt can be read below:

    "If minister Cordeiro de Farias' words are genuine, and the president has truly resigned on his own volition, then he ought to be succeeded by the vice-president, as stated in the Constitution. Anything else is a coup, and the state of São Paulo, no matter the cost, will not stand by passively while our people's freedoms are violated by a government they did not vote for."
    FMONTORO 2.jpg

    Left: Montoro reading his manifesto. Right: A strongpoint in the neighborhood of Campos Elíseos.
    The governor's call to resistance was heeded by thousands of students, trade unionists and other sympathizers, who rallied by the tens of thousands on Princess Isabel Square, right next to the gubernatorial palace in a show of solidarity, while local committees were formed, mostly in the working-class neighborhoods. This put Castelo Branco in a bind: he had been ordered to arrest Montoro right away, but not only would this bring about a tremendous amount of unnecessary bloodshed, attacking an entrenched opponent, even one who was severely outnumbered and outgunned, would turn what was meant to be a swift victory into a civil war. Because of this, he, to the consternation of his superiors, ordered his troops to stand by and wait for further developments.

    Meanwhile, in the Northeast, things went along nicely for Costa e Silva at first. Cid Sampaio was deposed without much trouble, as was the mayor of Recife, Miguel Arraes, an icon of the radical left who was despised by Pernambuco's traditional oligarchs almost as much as the Tribuna da Imprensa despised Brizola. Much like in Rio de Janeiro, the military takeover was followed by a wave of arrests in the capital and throughout the countryside, the main targets being local progressive politicians and activists for land reform. However, things took a darker turn on multiple occasions, since the coronéis, no longer restrained by the reformist state government that existed since 1955, used their hired thugs to terrorise all those who dared to defy their authority in the last few years, with several instances of torture and murder being reported.
    arraes 1964.jpg

    Arraes is taken to prison.
    However, this was nothing compared to the sickening spectacle that took place in Alagoas. The state was already infamous for its extremely high levels of political violence, with blood feuds that were generations old causing numerous attacks and assassinations every year, the most scandalous of these being the shootout that took place in the Legislative Assembly in September 13, 1957. As the Fourth Army's troops marched into Maceió, seeking to depose the incumbent progressive governor Muniz Falcão, his enraged supporters formed barricades on the streets, grabbed as many weapons as they could (some of them decades old) and, with the assistance of the local police, fought the incoming soldiers with everything they had. It was a long, brutal, unequal and grotesquely confusing battle, one that was dominated by extrajudicial executions, torture, forced disappearances and all the other ugly aspects that marked a true civil war.

    In Rio Grande do Sul, the state that was (wrongly) predicted to become the nerve center of those who intended to push back against the coup, things went off the rails from almost the very beginning. Muricy's Third Army, hampered by a population that was fanatically loyal to PTB, attempted and failed to arrest governor Loureiro da Silva, who fled to the city of Santa Maria, almost three hundred kilometers away from Porto Alegre, set up his government there and enacted measures identical to those Montoro took in São Paulo, such as mobilizing the police and sending a message urging the people to resist. President-elect Leonel Brizola, another major target of the putschists, escaped along with him, as did his close friend and ally Sereno Chaise, mayor of Porto Alegre.

    November 23 gave way to 24, and those select few Brazilians who weren't aware of what was going on woke up to a divided country. For the junta, the situation was less than ideal, but they had a good reason to believe their side would win in the end: though they didn't score the quick victory they wanted, the Federal District, the state of Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais and most of the Northeast were under their control, and it was only a matter of time before Alagoas' unexpected resistance was worn down. Nevertheless, the same thing could be said for the loyalists: Montoro was firmly entrenched in São Paulo, Brazil's richest state, while Loureiro da Silva, despite being forced to abandon Porto Alegre, still controlled most of Rio Grande do Sul.

    Both sides prepared their forces for round two. The struggle had only begun, and it was far from over.


    (1) The ironic thing is that, considering Etelvino Lins' very authoritarian record IOTL - he wanted to make AI-5 a permanent part of the Constitution, for example - he would've almost certainly agreed with the plan, had he been aware of it from the start.
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    Part 9: On the Edge of the Abyss, Part Two
  • ------------------
    Part 9: On the Edge of the Abyss, Part Two

    An eerie lull reigned over Brazil as November 24 dawned, both sides' leaders still resting after the hurricane of activity and split-second decisions that dominated the previous day, and even the chaotic streets of Maceió were quiet. Of course, the calm was nothing more than a mirage, one that would soon be replaced by the crushing, nerve-wracking reality that the country was in the brink of a civil war.

    Things heated up once more early in the morning, when the plane carrying Osvino Alves, who the now former president Etelvino Lins designated as the new commander of the 3rd Army just minutes before his overthrow, landed in Porto Alegre. The incumbent commander, general Muricy, immediately had him arrested, of course, but this event made his position as the leader of the tens of thousands of troops stationed in the country's three southern states even more unstable. Although mostly subdued by now, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul chafed under the junta's occupation, and the loyalists were still on the loose in Santa Maria, where they spent the last few hours working almost nonstop contacting as many potential allies as possible, from people who held merely symbolic positions to genuine heavyweights like Franco Montoro in São Paulo.

    It didn't take long for the two states' governments to reach an agreement and form an united front, the Campanha da Legalidade - Campaign for Legality - whose purpose was to unite all those who opposed the junta. The radio stations under their control were also unified so as to send as coherent a message and maximize their range as much as possible, with several leaders and personalities, from politicians to journalists and even a few businessmen, giving speeches urging the people to protest and denouncing the coup as an unacceptable breach of the Constitution. The arrest of general Alves, greatly respected by the gaúchos thanks to his handling of a strike that happened in Santa Maria, of all places, in 1952, provided a welcome amount of fuel to the narrative that the putschists were the real subversives.

    brizola 1961.jpg

    Brizola giving the first radio address of the newly founded Campanha da Legalidade.

    As the hours passed, the airwaves were flooded first by impassioned speeches and proclamations of resistance, then by patriotic songs and marches. By midday it seemed that a popular rebellion was about to erupt in Porto Alegre, even as news came from Maceió saying that its uprising was finally crushed, a putschist victory that came at the cost of almost a hundred dead (according to official accounts at least, the real number was likely much higher), many more wounded and thousands of arrests, among them that of governor Muniz Falcão. Muricy had to act quickly, and so he did, by ordering the garrisons scattered throughout Rio Grande do Sul to converge upon Santa Maria and brush the loyalists aside with their overwhelming superiority in numbers and weaponry.

    There was only one problem, though: the generals in charge of those garrisons refused to obey him. One of them, Pery Bevilacqua, met with Brizola, governor Loureiro da Silva and other leading gaúcho loyalists, proclaiming that he would only obey to orders given to him by the contitutional president, Etelvino Lins, or his rightful successor, Bento Munhoz da Rocha - an open declaration of rebellion against his superior. Other generals followed suit with similar statements, and by the afternoon the forces loyal to the junta were now confined to Porto Alegre, whose streets were now full of protesters carrying posters condemning the coup and demanding Alves' release. Not willing to turn the state capital into a second Maceió, one that would likely end with a defeat anyway, Muricy surrendered peacefully and, in exchange for that, was allowed to go into exile in Uruguay.

    Alves was released and made commander of the 3rd Army, which was immediately ordered to march northward, into Santa Catarina, Paraná and the latter state's border with São Paulo, while the democrats returned to Porto Alegre in triumph. They had scored a decisive victory, and it wouldn't be their last.
    última hora 1961.jpg

    A headline from Última Hora celebrating the 3rd Army's change of allegiance.
    The developments in the south made the situation in the real front line - São Paulo - all the more delicate. Montoro, still holed up in his fortress of a palace and emboldened by his allies' success, ordered the police to distribute weapons to sympathetic sectors of the population, mostly local committees and trade unions, while the junta in Rio de Janeiro demanded that Castelo Branco deal with the governor at once, with bullets and bombs if necessary. Secretly, the commander of the 2nd Army was beginning to doubt the morality of his fellow conspirators' cause: he had sworn an oath to protect his nation's Constitution, and besides, wasn't the whole idea behind this mess - overturning the result of a free and democratic election - a subversive act, one that was plunging Brazil into the exact kind of turmoil he was supposed to fight against? It didn't help that marshal Henrique Lott, his mentor, was among the people who were arrested in the immediate aftermath of the coup in the Brazilian capital (1).

    So he hesitated, unwilling to follow an order that would plunge São Paulo into a catastrophe that would make what happened in Maceió look like a small riot, but still skeptical of Montoro and especially Brizola's intentions. As a result, the stalemate continued into November 25, when one radio message changed everything: the junta, having had enough of Castelo Branco's inaction, bypassed him and directly ordered the Air Force jets - Gloster Meteors, each one of them armed with a pair of 250 pound bombs - stationed within the Cumbica airbase to attack the gubernatorial palace and not stop until Montoro was buried under a pile of rubble, with no regard whatsoever for the thousands of civilian lives which would be caught in the bombing (2).

    The contents of this monstrous order were leaked to the public by a pirate radio station, and outrage ensued. In a dramatic speech which he stated that could've been his last, Montoro urged the crowd surrounding the palace to disperse and return to their homes before the attack began, while also declaring that he and his government would resist "until blood no longer flows in our veins and our voices are silenced. Let the bombs come, for even if we fall and a dictatorship is forced down the throats of the Brazilian people, we will fight to uphold our Constitution to the bitter end, for that is our duty as free and law-abiding men!"

    A Gloster Meteor that belonged to FAB.
    An infuriated Castelo Branco ordered his soldiers to occupy the airbase and seize the jets before they could carry out their mission, saving São Paulo from what would've been a bloodbath of unprecedented proportions. Once that was done, he contacted Montoro by phone and, less than an hour later, despite still being eyed with much suspicion by the police and trade unionists, personally entered the gubernatorial palace, announcing that he and, consequentially, the 2nd Army were now on the side of the Campanha da Legalidade. In response to this statement, Osvino Alves ordered his troops to advance from Paraná to meet up with their new allies and prepare for a final offensive against Rio de Janeiro, one which would end the crisis once and for all. By nightfall the democrats were in control of Resende, whose garrison surrendered without any resistance, and it was obvious to everyone that the capital would be taken the next day.

    So obvious, in fact, that the junta's allies, military men and civilians alike, deserted them. Lira Tavares, whose men were outnumbered and outgunned by the combined armies of Castelo Branco and Osvino Alves, met up with the generals in question early in the morning of November 26 in the Military Academy of Agulhas Negras. There, he negotiated a surrender and let the loyalist forces march into Rio de Janeiro unopposed. As their tanks and other vehicles loudly lumbered through the streets of the Brazilian capital, those who were still loyal to the putschist cause either surrendered, like Cordeiro de Farias did, or hurriedly fled into exile, like Carlos Lacerda, who would spend the rest of his life cowering under the protection of Paraguayan dictator Alfredo Stroessner, did. Far up in the Northeast, in Recife, Costa e Silva also chose the second option.

    The jig was up.

    Tanks occupying the Central do Brasil, in Rio de Janeiro.
    All of those who were imprisoned during the junta's brief reign were freed, and the deposed governors returned to their posts. Etelvino Lins, released from his house arrest, declined to return to the presidency, so the office was occupied by vice-president Bento Munhoz da Rocha, who served as little more than a caretaker from November 26 until Leonel Brizola's inauguration as president of Brazil in January 31, 1961.

    The people could breathe a sigh of relief, for their nation had avoided falling into the abyss.


    (1) IOTL, Castelo Branco supported Lott's coup in November 1955, which thwarted an attempt by UDN to overturn that year's presidential election.

    (2) Think of it as the Brazilian version of the
    Bombing of the Plaza de Mayo. Fun fact: during the OTL Campanha da Legalidade, which happened in 1961 and ensured that João Goulart became president after Jânio Quadros' resignation, there was a plan to bomb the Piratini Palace (the RS gubernatorial residence) and kill Brizola. The plot only failed because the junior officers of the Canoas airbase slashed the Meteors' tires, preventing them from taking flight and delivering their payload.
    Last edited:
    Foreign Snapshot: Our Big Neighbor
  • Special thanks to @minifidel for helping me with my WI on Perón.
    Foreign Snapshot: Our Big Neighbor

    Despite the friendly "rivalry" it has with Brazil nowadays, the history of Argentina from the late 19th century onward is extremely similar to that of its larger northern neighbor. After decades of being torn by foreign and especially civil wars since its independence from Spain, the country, once it was finally united for good from the 1860s onward, was governed by an oligarchic regime which maintained its power through fraudulent elections where the ballot wasn't secret, much like in the Brazilian Old Republic. This isn't to say that the period was uniformly bad - for example investments in public education quadrupled during the presidency of Doming Faustino Sarmiento (1868-1874) - but the system that sustained it was wholly undemocratic and corrupt.

    The voto cantado ('vote song') lasted until 1912, when it was finally abolished after decades of political pressure by the Radical Civic Union, the main opposition party, which tried to overthrow the government three times (1890, 1893 and 1905) and, despite failing every time, was now poised to take power through free and fair elections, which took place in 1916. The UCR's leader, Hipólito Yrigoyen, scored an easy victory and presided over a term marked by economic growth and progressive labour reforms - though not bereft of strife, as shown by the events of the Tragic Week and Patagonia Rebelde, which killed around 700 and 1.500 people respectively - and was succeeded by Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear in 1922, consolidating the Radicals' dominance of Argentine politics.

    President Yrigoyen (center, wearing a bowler hat) alongside other prominent figures.
    Radical Era was obviously far from perfect, but it seemed that Argentina, now a promising democracy (albeit one that still denied its women the right to vote), was ready to abandon its oligarchic past for good. These hopes were dashed in 1930, when the now elderly Yrigoyen, who had been elected for a second, non-consecutive presidential term, was overthrown by a military coup, ushering the very aptly named Década Infame - the Infamous Decade. Electoral fraud came back with a vengeance and corruption soared, greatly worsening the effects of the Great Depression, and those who opposed the Concordancia (the ruling conservative coalition) were persecuted and intimidated - although the UCR did score some victories here and there, the most important of them being Amadeo Sabattini's election to the governorship of the province of Córdoba in 1935.

    All in all, the Infamous Decade created an environment that made the rise of an ambitious, charismatic leader not only possible, but extremely likely. That leader, of course, was Juan Domingo Perón. An army colonel, Perón's political career started in 1943, when he was made Secretary of Labour after another military coup deposed the Concordancia government, and not only did he use his new position to cultivate links with the trade unions, he also led the relief efforts to the earthquake-stricken city of San Juan, something that earned him widespread national acclaim. Thus, it was no surprise that, once he ran for president in 1946 - Argentina's first genuinely democratic election in eighteen years - he won the race by a comfortable margin of ten percentage points, even though all of his opponents (from communists to conservatives and even the American ambassador, Spruille Braden) united behind the Radical candidate, José Tamborini (1).​


    Juan and Eva Perón's official portrait during the former's first term. This is the only Argentine presidential portrait to feature the First Lady.
    Perón's first term is among the most successful and popular administrations in Argentine history. During its six years, the country's railways, previously mostly owned by the British, were nationalized, as was the merchant marine, the central bank (whose debts were paid off) among many other utilities and services, while important infrastructure works such as the Ezeiza International Airport (one of the largest of the world at the time) and a gas pipeline linking Buenos Aires to Comodoro Rivadavia were built. On the social front, where its most celebrated feats were located, 8.000 new schools were established, along with 650.000 new homes, wages were increased and the number of people covered by social security more than tripled.

    The president was aided in his efforts by his wife, María Eva Duarte de Perón - best known as Evita - a former actress who was loathed by the elites thanks to her humble origins and adored by the ordinary people to an almost religious degree. Seen as the link between her husband and the descamisados (the "shirtless ones"), Evita's influence and popularity were so great that the period stretching from 1946 to 1952 is seen by some historians as a dual presidency, and the charity she led, the Eva Perón Foundation, which helped hundreds of thousands of people, especially children, had better funding and organization than some departments of the state.

    But early Peronism had one fatal flaw, one that would only become more and more prominent as the years progressed: it was highly authoritarian. People who voiced opinions contrary to that of the incumbent administration were fired from their jobs or imprisoned, even those who were once staunch Peronists like the union leader Cipriano Reyes (who was tortured during his time in prison), while opposition newspapers like La Prensa were shut down or put under heavy censorship. The government also turned Argentina into a safe haven for Nazi war criminals, the most infamous cases being that of Adolf Eichmann, Josef Mengele and Ante Pavelić, and although the men in question eventually faced justice, many others didn't.

    The authoritarianism of the Perón era was best shown in the education system, where more than 2.000 university professors were fired and the children were given school books that... well... see for yourself.
    livro peronista.jpg

    The first page says: "The children are well dressed. The Eva Perón Foundation gives clothes to those who need them."
    The last one says: "Mom and Dad love me. Perón and Evita love us."

    Thanks to a new constitution which consolidated the measures put in place by his administration, allowed women to vote and, most importantly, abolished term limits, Perón was able to run for and easily win a second term in 1951 with a whooping 63% of the vote, while his main adversary, the Radical congressman Ricardo Balbín, spent much of the previous year in prison and wasn't allowed to campaign properly. On the local level, nearly all provinces had Peronist governors, all except for one: the old UCR stronghold of Córdoba, which was governed by Arturo Illia, a protégé of Amadeo Sabattini (2). The legislature was just as lopsided in the president's favor, with the Peronist Party controlling all seats in the Senate and 135 out of 149 seats in the Chamber of Deputies.

    Despite these overwhelmingly favourable results, however, Perón's position slowly began to weaken. Evita's premature death from cancer at the age of thirty-three deprived the president of a valuable political ally, and the economy, after years of continuous growth and fiscal profligacy, suffered a slump thanks to the decline of agricultural prices, a drought and the depletion of foreign currency reserves. The government enacted austerity measures to remedy the situation, which made people's lives more difficult since the services and programs which took them out of poverty suffered the brunt of the budget cuts.

    Violence ensued. On April 15, 1953, an unidentified terrorist group detonated two bombs at a Peronist rally in the Plaza de Mayo, killing six people and wounding 90 others. From the balcony of the Casa Rosada (the presidential residence), Perón simultaneously urged the crowd to calm down and return to their homes to avoid further bloodshed, and also promised that justice would "come swiftly" to the perpetrators (3). True to his word, the president declared a state of siege and thousands of people were detained in Buenos Aires alone, including the parliamentary leader of the UCR, Arturo Frondizi, who had been Balbín's running mate in the 1951 presidential race. After several days, the people behind the attack were identified and, after being "thoroughly interrogated" (read: tortured), confessed their crimes and were promptly sentenced to life in prison for murder and treason.

    Frondizi is taken prisoner.
    Things stabilized somewhat in 1954, when it seemed that the austerity finally began to have its desired effects, namely inflation levels that were in the single digits, smaller imports that turned a trade deficit into a surplus and a GDP that was growing at a slow (at least when compared to the euphoria of 1946-49) but steady pace. On the political front, a snap election was called to replace the late vice-president Hortensio Quijano, which was won by the president's favorite candidate, former admiral Alberto Teisaire, by a margin of two to one, and a similar victory was scored in the legislature. Perón, believing his position was finally secure, embarked on a program of attracting foreign investments to stimulate economic growth, with companies like Fiat and Kaiser Motors establishing factories in Córdoba, while an exploration contract with Standard Oil was signed in May 1955 (4).

    At the same time it cozied up with international conglomerates, however, the government never ceased to invest in the national industry, especially in the automotive sector, whose birth and rise were best symbolized by the Justicialista car, a pet project of Perón which began to be produced in 1953 but only really took off in 1956 (5). That same year, a new state company, Yacimientos Carboníferos Fiscales (YCF), was founded with the purpose of managing the processing, transport and selling of coal (a vital resource which Argentina would no longer need to import) extracted mostly from the mining town of Río Tubio (6). This policy of large investments in infrastructure and industry, known as developmentalism, dominated Argentine economic thought until the outbreak of the Saudi Civil War and the oil shock it caused.

    The IAME Justicialista.
    But turmoil was never far away. Despite the censorship the press it had been put under since the beginning of the Perón administration, gossip pages from multiple newspapers began to publish details of an affair between the 59 year old president and an underage girl named Nélida Rivas, something Perón never denied, but instead joked about - when asked if she was 13 years old, he replied that he was "not superstitious". This image problem, which strained but did not break his relations with the mighty Catholic Church (7), was the far from being the only issue he had to deal with: an ultraconservative wing of the military, led by army general Pedro Eugenio Aramburu, was scheming to depose him.

    The conspiracy was discovered in June 14, 1955, when it became public that the putschists intended to use airplanes belonging to the Navy and the Air Force to bomb the Casa Rosada and kill Perón, after which a "Revolución Libertadora" ("Liberating Revolution") would be proclaimed (8). The president wasted no time and immediately declared a state of siege, arresting several plotters and people who "looked suspicious", while Aramburu and his allies led an all out uprising in several areas of the country, a desperate final attempt to overthrow the government, before being ultimately defeated after three days of fighting. With the rebellion crushed and its leaders either dead, imprisoned or exiled, Perón would never face another coup ever again, and he made sure of that: all three branches of the Armed Forces were thoroughly purged of any suspicious officers, who were then replaced with people who were loyalists at best and sycophants at worst.

    By 1957 Perón was at the pinnacle of his power. The economy was now growing and industrializing at a stable rate due to the steady stream of foreign and national investments, Argentina no longer had to import petroleum thanks to the contract with Standard Oil, the people were more than satisfied with their lot in life and, most importantly, the opposition was completely powerless - save for governor Illia of Córdoba, who was kept around to give the UCR the vain hope they could possibly defeat him in the upcoming presidential election. He seemed invincible, and Perón, who had at this point been brainwashed by his own successes and propaganda, announced his intention to run for an unprecedented third term in office.

    The poster reads: "Founder of the new and great Argentina"
    But he had spent so much time and energy dealing with the threat posed by his opponents that he didn't pay attention to that of his own allies. One such ally was Domingo Alfredo Mercante, governor of the critical province of Buenos Aires. A fellow military man and a close friend of Perón since 1943, Mercante's gubernatorial tenure as mirrored that of his benefactor in the Casa Rosada, with multiple progressive social reforms, the most important of them being the redistribution of more than 1.400.000 acres of unused land, and he became so popular that he was nicknamed "the heart of Perón". With his second term as governor coming to an end, Mercante now wished to become president, an ambition that clashed with Perón's intention to perpetuate himself in power (9).

    A split broke out in the Peronist Party, dividing those who remained completely loyal to the incumbent and those who, although still agreeing with most of his policies, believed he should retire and hand over power to a new generation. The first group, which was larger and had the control of the party machinery, easily prevailed and expelled Mercante and his supporters. Nevertheless, the governor continued to organize his candidacy, sending out feelers to UCR and other opposition parties to help him, promising to give them a spot in the cabinet if he reached the Casa Rosada. By August 1957 a wide coalition of dissident Peronists, Radicals, Communists and Socialists, which was given the name of "Renovación Democrática" ("Democratic Renewal"), was assembled.

    Mercante on the campaign trail.

    The race was, predictably, grotesquely imbalanced in Perón's favor. With the state apparatus completely under the president's control, public employees were forced to campaign on his behalf lest they be arbitrarily fired from their jobs, while government militants threatened and attacked opposition newspapers and local campaign committees, with local police forces watching everything when they weren't actively breaking up political rallies. Having spent almost twelve years in the Casa Rosada, backed by all of Argentina's major labour unions and most provincial governors, Perón was now eerily lethargic, sure of his imminent victory, and was already planning his moves for the next six years.

    Mercante, on the other hand, hit the streets hard. His gubernatorial record gave him a considerable following in the country's largest and wealthiest province, and his insistence on leading a clean campaign bereft of attacks despite the treatment he was subjected to attracted the attention of loyal Peronist voters who were less than excited about the possibility of being ruled by the same person for eighteen years straight. The Radicals and other opposition members, eager to deliver a defeat to the man they now simply called "the tyrant", campaigned for him enthusiastically, turning out for Mercante in massive numbers in their traditional strongholds.
    Argentina 1957.PNG

    Perón won, as expected, but Mercante's performance was nothing short of admirable, winning a majority of the votes in Buenos Aires and Córdoba along with respectable results in other provinces, greatly exceeding expectations. The results were received first with shock then celebration from the opposition, who came within just nine percentage points of unseating the president and made noticeable gains in the legislature, with the UCR caucus in the Chamber of Deputies jumping from 14 to 52 legislators in the lower house and 9 new seats in the Senate - still a clear Peronist majority, but not an overwhelming one anymore.

    The president was woken from his power-induced stupor, and he knew his days were numbered - he would leave the Casa Rosada on June 4, 1964. But Peronism would survive beyond his days in office, he'd make sure of that.


    (1) Braden's interference actually hurt Tamborini, since it allowed Perón to frame the race as between him and the US.

    (2) IOTL Illia lost that race by a relatively narrow margin. Even so, he performed much better than other Radical candidates.

    (3) IOTL Perón urged the crowd to retaliate and they burned the headquarters of the opposition parties to the ground. Here he tries to maintain some plausible deniability.

    (4) This is OTL, and Arturo Frondizi would continue this policy during his brief presidency to great success.

    (5) IOTL the Justicialista was cancelled after the 1955 coup d'état so that only a few cars were produced.

    (6) YCF was founded in 1958 IOTL.

    (7) IOTL Perón sanctioned a law that legalized divorce in late 1954, breaking his once friendly relations with the Church for good. They still deteriorate here by the way, just not as severely.

    (8) Basically the bombing of the Plaza de Mayo and the coup that happened in September 1955 rolled into one.

    (9) IOTL Mercante was forced to resign and was subequently expelled from the party in 1952 because of the threat he posed to Perón, even though he was one of the guys who organized the demonstrations for his release in 1945.
    Part 10: New Government, Old Priorities
  • ------------------
    Part 10: New Government, Old Priorities

    Bento Munhoz da Rocha's 67 day long presidency was, thakfully, uneventful. Its primary focus was stabilizing Brazil after its very close brush with civil war, and because of this his cabinet included members of all major political parties no matter their position in the political spectrum, from PTB to UDN. Although not a reformist administration - there wasn't enough time to enact any groundbreaking measures, anyway - it still managed to be noticeably different from that of its archconservative predecessor. Not only there were known progressive figures in important ministries, but the labour unions that were repressed by DOPS for years were now allowed to operate freely, so long as they did so within the limits of the law. Because of this, several people who were detained for "reasons of internal security" were released.

    And since reducing military interference in politics was a critical step towards ensuring the country didn't suffer a second coup, its ranks were subjected to a "careful revision". Despite not being drastic enough to be called a real purge, especially since most of the hardcore reactionaries in the armed forces were already in exile, a small number of officers whose loyalty was deemed suspect was encouraged to retire from active duty sooner than they expected - with the guarantee they'd receive a full pension, of course - while some found themselves being sidelined in matters such as promotions in favor of others who were considered more reliable (1). The most important positions were, predictably, stacked with generals who took part in the Campanha da Legalidade, with the post of Minister of War being given to Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco.
    bento munhoz da rocha.jpg

    President Munhoz da Rocha attending a state ceremony.
    All things considered, Munhoz da Rocha was an excellent president - not one whose name had a prestigious spot in the history books like his successor Leonel Brizola or Franco Montoro, but one who not only fulfilled his mission, to protect the country's young and fragile democracy as best as he could, but was also quite successful at doing so. The people of his native state of Paraná clearly agreed with this assessment, given he would be elected to serve a second term as governor in 1965 (2).
    The inauguration of Leonel Brizola as the 21st president of Brazil was unlike anything Rio de Janeiro had ever seen before. "The streets of the capital," a journalist said sarcastically, "had more gaúchos than cariocas in them." While this was an obvious hyperbole, there were many people from Rio Grande do Sul in the jubilant crowds celebrating the former governor's rise to the presidency, which was made all the more poetic by the fact the last gaúcho to take the post was Getúlio Vargas. Other "foreigners" who showed up in large numbers to see and hear the man they voted for speak were industrial workers from cities like São Paulo, Volta Redonda and Belo Horizonte, to say nothing of those who worked in capital's many factories, and tens of thousands of favelados, to the disgust of the elite.
    posse presidencial.jpg

    The presidential motorcade makes its way to the Catete Palace.

    The core component of the two speeches Brizola gave that day - one before both houses of Congress, another directed to the people - was the word change. It wasn't surprising, really, given he not only happened to be the youngest chief executive to ever be elected - his 39th birthday happened just nine days before his accession to the presidency - campaigned on breaking with the past once and for all. "The nation", he began, "wanted and needed to change" (3).

    These words were, if anything, an understatement: 15.9 million Brazilians with 14 years of age or older were illiterate, an astonishing 40% of all people within this age group. Millions more were denied basic services like running water or electricity, especially in most of the interior, where the only law which existed was that of the coronéis. Finally, most of the major internal improvements that were made during the last five years took place in the South and especially the Southeast, increasing the main cities' populations beyond their capacity to support them properly.

    Long story short, the situation was bad, and the cabinet assembled by the newly inaugurated president showed how he intended to tackle this crisis:
    Chief of Staff: Wilson Vargas (PTB-RS)
    Finance: Celso Furtado (no party)
    Justice: Barbosa Lima Sobrinho (PSB-PE)
    Education: Anísio Teixeira (no party)
    Health: Lutero Vargas (PTB-RS)
    *Foreign Relations: San Tiago Dantas (PTB-MG)
    Agriculture: Ney Braga (PDC-PR)
    **Social Development: Josué de Castro (PTB-PE)
    Industry: Egídio Michaelsen (PTB-RS)
    Labour: Domingos Vellasco (PSB-GO)
    Mines and Energy: Pelópidas da Silveira (PSB-PE)
    Transportation and Public Works: Muniz Falcão (PSP-AL)

    *Left his post prematurely for health reasons.
    **New ministry.

    Not only was the new government dominated by petebistas and socialists, with a couple of concessions to PDC and PSP to ensure their loyalty, the ministers were almost all people who were opposed to the status quo in some way: Anísio Teixeira was a lifelong defender of public education, Josué de Castro built his career on denouncing the chronic famines that ravaged the Northeast over and over for centuries, Pelópidas da Silveira and Muniz Falcão were sworn adversaries of their respective states' oligarchic groups, and so on. The only set of policies that stayed mostly unchanged were the economic ones, as shown by the presence of Celso Furtado in the Ministry of Finance, and even they would shift their focus to more distant, underdeveloped regions.

    Although it was still too early to enact most of the Reformas de Base's initiatives, especially the bolder ones concerning land reform and universal healthcare, Brizola set about doing as much as he could with the energetic style he was now famous for the moment he got used to his new position. For the moment, his field of action was restricted to signing bills and amendments that had stagnated in the abyss that existed between legislative approval and presidential sanction - some of them for years on end - and negotiating wage increases, both of them things that made a world of difference for millions of people and served as a sign of what was to come.


    (1)This is a much milder and more humane treatment than the one the dictatorship gave to those in the Armed Forces who were deemed to have "subversive sympathies": 6,5 thousand men were fired then subjected to arbitrary arrests, declared legally dead, harassed in several ways and, obviously, tortured.

    (2) IOTL Munhoz da Rocha ran for governor in 1965 and lost by a narrow margin.

    (3) I got these words from a
    magnificent speech Ulysses Guimarães made in October 5, 1988, the day Brazil's current constitution was promulgated.
    Part 11: First Reforms and 1962 Elections
  • ------------------
    Part 11: First Reforms and 1962 Elections

    1961 came and went without much worth of note, and those who hoped for a New Deal-esque string of groundbreaking new laws, reforms and government agencies all within a hundred days or less were left sorely disappointed. This did not mean, obviously, that the year was bereft of positive developments, quite the opposite: the army remained quiet and loyal, the minimum wage (which was kept artificially low for years despite massive increases in productivity and revenue) was gradually increased, directly improving the lives of millions of people in the process, and, finally, the end of police repression against the labour unions, which did the same, albeit indirectly. Years after his presidency, Brizola gave two reasons for his administration's "timidity" during its first year:​
    • First was the lasting, even if lessened, presence of several conservatives in the Senate;​
    • Second was the need to be completely sure that the reforms would not fail.​
    While the justification raises a few eyebrows to say the least since the upper house was presided by Pedro Ludovico Teixeira (one of the few supporters of Juscelino Kubitschek who didn't leave PSD), a sign that it wasn't as right-wing as it used to be, the second one is perfectly understandable since a failure would have disastrous consequences. Another, much more cynical explanation is that the federal government began to enact its most popular policies in 1962 because it happened to be an election year. Whatever cause the reader may choose, the Brizola administration became much, much more proactive from the beginning of its second year onward, signing law after law, project after project. The first big reform to be enacted was the implementation of the thirteenth salary, which was passed by both houses of Congress after months of debate and signed into law by the president in April 17, 1962.

    The second reform, which is often overlooked but had consequences that were perhaps even larger than the first one, was the creation of the Superintendency for the Development of the Northeast, or Sudene, on May 8, 1962 (1). A brainchild of Celso Furtado, the Minister of Finance, Sudene's purpose (in theory) was to serve as a vehicle through which the federal government could make large investments in the Brazilian Northeast, finally ending said region's chronic social and economic underdevelopment, without having to use the local coronéis as middlemen. Of course, it didn't take long for the new agency (and its counterparts in the North, Center-West and South) to become a cash cow that bestowed vast sums of money to states run by friendly governors while withholding said sums to those controlled by the opposition. Despite these issues, and the multiple corruption scandals that would plague the agency in the future, Sudene would play an important part in the implementation of the other Reformas de Base.
    celso furtado.jpg

    Celso Furtado.

    The next reforms to be put in place were the establishment of the Sistema Nacional de Saúde (National Health System) and the Lei de Diretrizes Básicas da Educação Nacional (Law of Basic Guidelines for National Education, or LDB for short), two ambitious acts which soon became some of the most important parts of the legacy left by the Brizola administration. The first law stipulated the formation of an unified system capable of providing healthcare to everyone who needed it regardless of their financial status, similar to the United Kingdom's National Health Service (2). The second one stipulated that the government had a duty to provide free and mandatory education to all Brazilian citizens, once again without taking their social position into account - a decades old demand of intellectuals such as Anísio Teixeira, the incumbent Minister of Education. It would take years for most of the population to feel the effects of these acts - many parts of Brazil, especially in the interior, didn't have any schools, hospitals or even running water and electric grids - but they would do so, eventually.
    Anísio Teixeira.jpeg

    Anísio Teixeira was a lifelong defender of public education.

    An element that is usually even more overlooked than the creation of the superintendencies was the role the governors (and mayors, to a lesser degree) played in ensuring the Reformas de Base were implemented in full instead of becoming a collection of half-measures and could-have-beens. Those among them who were progressives, like Franco Montoro (PDC - SP), Abilon de Souza Naves (PTB - PR), Abrahão Moura (PSP - AL) and Tancredo Neves (PSD - MG) were obviously interested in seeing the reforms succeed, since they supported its aims not only out of principle but because doing so would increase their popularity in their states' electorates (3). Those who were allied to groups opposed to the reforms risked their political careers by doing so, and would suffer the consequences in the upcoming gubernatorial races.

    Bahia was one of the many northeastern states still under the boot heel of oligarchic factions traditionally divided between PSD and UDN, but their grip over its politics was slipping, and fast. The incumbent governor, Juracy Magalhães (UDN), was a political titan who first ran the state from 1931 to 1937, and won a second, non-consecutive term in 1958 thanks to a split within PSD. Although in cahoots with the people who executed the 1960 coup attempt, he was subtle enough while doing so to maintain a veneer of plausible deniability, not that this would increase his popularity among the groups who were most energized by the reforms instituted by Rio de Janeiro.

    These groups rallied behind Waldir Pires, a federal deputy who began his career as a member of the cabinet of Régis Pacheco, who served as governor from 1951 to 1955. One of the few northeastern members of PSD to support both of Juscelino Kubitschek's attempts to become president, Pires bolted the party and joined PTB in 1960 after the former governor's second candidacy was nipped in the bud by the party bosses. His name was floated as a potential Minister of Justice for the Brizola administration when the cabinet was in the process of being assembled, but he refused the post in order to focus all of his energies into campaigning to become the next governor of Bahia.

    His main opponent was the two-time mayor of Jequié, Antônio Lomanto Júnior, who served as a state assemblyman in the four year gap between his mayoral terms and was surprisingly prominent nationally thanks to his persistent and vigorous defense of municipal autonomy. He was supported by UDN (though he belonged to a different party) and most of the interior, still full of powerful coronéis who were not at all excited about the possibility of someone completely opposed to their interests occupying the state's top executive position. Much more than a battle between two ideologies, the 1962 gubernatorial election was a dispute between the rural and urban halves of one of Brazil's largest states, a dispute that repeated itself in many other places.
    Bahia 1962.PNG

    Lomanto's margins in the interior, though impressive, weren't enough to offset Pires' crushing victory in Salvador and its suburbs. Power was gradually changing hands in Bahia, away from the semi-feudal oligarchs of old and toward a new ruling class - not always progressive - which drew its power from the state's growing urban centers, like Salvador, Feira de Santana, Vitória da Conquista and others.
    Results and Aftermath

    Chamber of Deputies:
    PTB: 132 seats (+48)
    PSD: 76 seats (-27)
    PR: 32 seats (+18)
    UDN: 28 seats (-37)
    PDC: 23 seats (+13)
    Minor Parties (PSP, PSB, PST and so on): 118 seats

    President: Fernando Ferrari (PTB-RS)

    Senate (two thirds):
    PSD: 17 seats
    PTB: 17 seats
    UDN: 7 seats
    PDC: 3 seats
    PSP: 1 seat

    President: Pedro Ludovico Teixeira (PSD-GO)
    All in all, the 1962 elections were, above all else, a referendum on the policies embarked by president Brizola after a year and a half in office, and the results suggested that most of the electorate not only approved of them, but in fact wanted more. PTB's massive gains in the Chamber of Deputies ensured that its presidency fell on the hands of Fernando Ferrari, a leading moderate who argued for closer relations with the Christian Democrats, whose caucus also increased by a fair amount thanks in no small part to Franco Montoro's prestige. PSD, which held a plurality in the lower house since the restoration of democracy in 1945, suffered some damage but not as much as could have, since the party still had a considerable amount of establishment weight despite its internal troubles. Its foundations were weak, however, and they would erode at an alarming speed as time went by (4).

    UDN, meanwhile, was gutted, not only because of the incumbent administration's popularity, but because of the party's association with Carlos Lacerda and his attempt to overthrow Brazil's democracy. Most middle and upper class voters, which formed the backbone of the udenista base, defected en masse to the Republican Party (PR), whose more than doubled in size as a result. It was a sign of what was to come, for while the once tiny newcomer would become Brazil's foremost right-wing party as the years passed, UDN would eventually fade into the background and then vanish completely.


    (1) IOTL Sudene was created in 1959, during the Juscelino administration.

    (2) IIRC Brazil only got an unified, public healthcare system in 1988.

    (3) IOTL Souza Naves suddenly died before he could be elected, while Abrahão Moura and Tancredo Neves lost their respective gubernatorial races.

    (4) The power of the coronéis who support PSD is on the decline, and other parties are encroaching on areas that were once their traditional stomping grounds.​