Vargas Adopted 'Strong Man' Role
Held Power Longer Than Any Other Brazilian
President--Popular With the People
Ruthless As Politician
Dynamic Leader Set Up Coup in 1930 and Came Back to Rule After Reverse
BY THE NEW YORK TIMES
Getulio Vargas retained a strong grip on the imagination and affection
of many Brazilians.
Sometimes he was known by his nickname, "Ge-Ge" and again, when he appeared in public,
his followers would greet him with a chanting shout, "Getul, Getul!"
From 1945 to 1950, when many thought his political appeal had vanished,
reading "He Will Return!" appeared at rural crossroads in his home province of Rio Grande do
Sul in the South. He duly reappeared.
Although Senhor Vargas governed by the strong methods common in most Latin-American
republics, he was a rugged foe of communism and fascism. He took his country into World
War II at the side of the United States and his troops fought well in Italy for a free life that they
were not exactly enjoying at home.
Regime Crumbling at Death
In his first administration, from 1930 to 1945, he moved vigorously and
sometimes successfully to reorganize Brazil politically and economically.
When he came to power a second time he had lost his touch. His regime was
crumbling at his death.
A New York Times correspondent said of Senhor Vargas:
"He is 5 feet 2 inches tall and has a massive forehead, brown eyes and
sense of humor. He keeps in physical trim by riding and golfing. For mental
relaxation he turns to the movies, especially Westerns. Vargas likes an
occasional glass of wine or a cup of mate."
Getulio Dornelles Vargas was born April 19, 1883, at Sao Borja, Rio Grande
do Sul. When he was about 9 the country was swept by the excitement
attending the overthrow of Emperor Dom Pedro II. General Manoel do
Nascimento Vargas, "Getul's" father, played a prominent part in the revolt.
During his career Senhor Vargas seldom let rural Brazilians forget that
been reared on a cattle ranch and had led the life of a pampas gaucho.
After having served a year as an infantry private at 16, young Vargas entered
the Rio Pardo Military Academy. He withdrew after several months to take a
law course, which he completed, at the University of Porto Alegre. He was
elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1919.
Senhor Vargas' political adroitness kept him in the public eye. With the
of the Presidential election of 1929 he was able to take advantage of a
The Constitution of 1891 provided that the titular head of the Government
should come from one of the country's two leading states, Sao Paulo and
Minas Gerais. Dr. Washington Luiz Pereira de Souza, then President, was
from Sao Paulo and it was assumed that his successor would be from Minas
Voters Pick Rival
But Dr. Luiz had endorsed Dr. Julio Prestes, Governor of Sao Paulo. Senhor
Vargas, who had been rewarded for his services by being named Governor of
Rio Grande do Sol, was picked to oppose Dr. Prestes. In the campaign
Senhor Vargas received thunderous ovations wherever he went and it was
assumed he would be elected. However, Dr. Prestes came out ahead in the
On Oct. 3, 1930, armed forces directed by Oswaldo Aranha, Senhor
Vargas' able lieutenant, took over military installations in Rio Grande do Sul
and occupied Rio de Janeiro. A military junta was formed Oct. 24, the same
day that Dr. Luiz, at the suggestion of Sebastiao Cardinal Leme da Silveira,
Senhor Vargas became Provisional President and Senhor Aranha Minister of
Justice and Internal Affairs. Counter-revolutions were put down and jails
were filled. After some prodding by his supporters, the new President
summoned an assembly in May, 1933, to adopt a new constitution and elect a
On July 16 Senhor Vargas became the first President under the new
Constitution and the thirteenth President of the Republic. He made vigorous
attempts to combat inflation and unemployment, but his early efforts were not
very successful. Partly to allay fears in Washington that he was drifting toward
the Axis dictatorships, President Vargas sent Senhor Aranha to Washington
as Ambassador early in 1935. President Franklin D. Roosevelt confirmed
Brazilian-United States solidarity by visiting the Brazilian capital in 1936 on his
way to the hemisphere peace conference in Buenos Aires.
Many Presidential candidates took the field in 1937. German and Italian
newspapers in Brazil called for the re-election of Senhor Vargas and
promised him the support of the fascist Integralista party.
Senhor Vargas rejected this support, when the country threatened to dissolve
into revolutionary chaos he had the Council of Ministers declare a national
emergency. He received the right to govern by decree, which he exercised for
eight years, and the national legislative body was dissolved.
The President proscribed not only the Integralistas but many other political
groups. He set up strict control of the press and public assembly. Governing
as a dictator, he carried out an extensive nationalization program.
Under Senhor Vargas' energetic direction, forward steps were taken in
establishing a new Brazilian economy along modern lines. However, it soon
became evident that certain phases of the change-over had caused dangerous
boom and inflationary situations.
As dictator during World War II, Senhor Vargas put his country's meager
resources at the disposal of the United States and its allies. Defense measures
were taken to insure against a possible Axis invasion.
A ruthless politician, Senhor Vargas ruled largely by star-chamber methods
through his Tribunal de Seguranca. He suppressed many small uprisings.
Finally, discontent grew to such proportions that late in 1944 he was
constrained to relieve Senhor Aranha as Foreign Minister. Within a few
months the President himself was forced to announce that he would soon
His decision to return to his home in Rio Grande do Sul was hastened on
29, 1945, when revolting troops occupied strategic points in Rio de Janeiro in
a bloodless stroke.
However, he was still popular. Elected a Senator, he preferred to seek
semi-retirement on his ranch.
In October, 1950, he staged a comeback and won the Presidency by an
In 1911, Senhor Vargas wed Darcy Sarmanho, sister of Walter Sarmanho,
former head of the Pan American Coffee Bureau. Surviving also are two sons,
Dr. Lutero, a member of congress, and Manuel, and two daughters, Senhora
Jandira Costa and Senhora Alzira de Amaral Peixoto, wife of the Governor of
the state of Rio de Janeiro.