Saturday, April 11, 2009


Throughout the first decades of the twentieth century Latin America entered in a period called 'populism.' By this term history refers to a form of government particular to a specific time. Populists were those rulers who relied on a newly formed constituency of enfranchised workers to conquer political power. Populist’s politicians in Latin America throughout the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s were dictators, nationalists, fascists or military men in charge. As a style of rulership, politicians used the recently created radio to advertise their message and appealed to the common people for support.

Among the most iconic populists Latin American rulers of the time was was President Getulio Vargas of Brazil who ruled between 1930 and 1945 and later between 1951 and 1954. He conquered political power based on the support of the 'Integralists' an organization composed significantly by pro fascists who adapted the symbols of Nazism to the nationalist realities of Brazil, without the racial discrimination that characterized Nazi Germany. Vargas presided a quasi dictatorial state called the 'Estado Novo'because it shifted the balance of power from the countryside to the cities, from the coffee dominated Brazil to the urban industrial areas.

The Vargas regime had some benefits to the workers, but it came accompanied by a strong authoritarianism on behalf of the state with prohibition of independent unions and a very strong hand against opposition. Massive rallies, anticommunism, religion, nationalism, the use of systematic propaganda and indoctrination characterized the Vargas government.

Images from the Frente Integralista Brasileira or Integralist Front during the first government of Getulio Vargas' era in Brazil between 1930-1945:

The letter Sigma from the Greek Alphabet was used as a symbol in the Integralists' uniforms, and adaptatin of the Nazi Swastica.

Indoctrination of Children in Getulio Vargas' Brazil.

Brazilian native girls salute the Brazilian flag. Nationalism and cultural integration was part of the ideology of Integralism and the Estado Novo.

Women in the Integralist Movement.

Control over fashion is part of any form of totalitarianism. Here is a depiction of the authorized forms of clothes for the 'Integralist' women.

The native in the poster is a metaphoric representation of Brazil. The hand that stops communism is the green arm of the Integralist Front and the knife depicts communist treason as there were elements from the left who had also being part of the integralist movement before it divided in two factions.

The Fascist Aesthetic. Benito Mussolini saluting his followers in Naples. 1934

An imitation of the Fascist Aesthetic in Brazil. Plinio Salgado the Integralist leader saluting his followers in the city of Blumenau. 1935

Miguel Reale, one of the integralist leaders in a Mussolini like pose and with a similar fascist uniform.

A military parade with Plinio Salgado the leader of Integralists. People salute them as the y pass by, a reminder of Fascism in the 1930s

Integralists and the People in a massive rally.

God, fatherland and family. Religious nationalism was part of the propaganda presented by Integralists.

A religious images that attempts to relate Jesus Christ to Integralist nationalism. The legend that goes with it says "The Estado Novo is essentially a state inspired in Christ."

Integralists with Brazilian President Getulio Vargas.

Integralists on their way to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War

Graphic Sources:
1-Revista Brasileira de Historia. Vol. 24. No. 50. Sao Paulo. July/Dec, 2005
2- Frente Integralista Brasileira

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