The military, who had been exerting increasing pressure on the government of Brazil, demanded in 1954 the resignation of the popular President Getulo Vargas, who committed suicide. By the early 1960s there was growing popular unrest, which President Joao Goulart tried to mobilize against the military. The armed forces responded with a coup in 1964, and military rule continued until 1985.
Comparative politics and democratization theorists have often classified Brazil’s path back to electoral democracy as a ‘negotiated transition’, but despite often brutal repression, including torture, there was a good deal of resistance to military rule in which students, workers and Catholic Church groups all played a significant role. The workers’ struggle for basic economic rights often became intertwined with the struggle against dictatorship (since the military backed the employers by targeting labour leaders), and the strength of Brazil’s labour unions has been an important factor in politics.
For Brazil’s impressive movement of land occupations, Movimento Sem Terra see F.I. of the original bibliography, People Power and Protest since 1945, and Volume II of this Guide.