Brazil: key historical events
Page last modified 23/6/2020
See also South & Central America
Click here for image of Rio de Janeiro 1955
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28/10/2018, Jair Bolsanaro was elected as 38th President of Brazil, with 55.1% of the vote. He was a populist with nationalist policies.
2004, Brazil launched its first space rocket.
10/2003, Da Silva (Lula) won the Presidential elections by a wide margin. He was a Leftist from a poor background. He inhertited an economy in trouble; due to rsing public debt the Brazilian currency, the real, had lost 40% of its value. However he curbed the more radical elements of his Party and promised to work with the IMF and not to default on this international debt.
12/6/1998, Transpetro, the largest oil and gas pipeline transportation company in Brazil, was established.
15/8/1993, Massacre of members of the Yanomami tribe in Brazil by gold and tin miners.
1992, Collor was forced to resign, his Presidency had been plagued by high levels of corruption.
3/6/1992. The Earth Summit began in Rio de Janeiro.
18/12/1991, The World Bank, the European Commission and the Group of Seven leading industrial nations granted Brazil US$ 250 million for conservation work in the Amazon rainforest. $ 100 million of that sum was for scientific research; the rest was for the establishment of national parks, tribal reserves, and promoting non-destructive use of Amazon Forest, such as rubber tapping and brazil-nut harvesting.
17/12/1989. Brazil held its first free elections in 29 years. Ferdinand Collor de Mello defeated Jose Sarney. Brazil faced a massive foreign debt burden; interest payments ate up 40% of export earnings. The IMF imposed austerity measures on Brazil, despite recent rapid growth in the economy, to guarantee loan repayments. Prices rose, wages were cut, and annual inflation stood at 700%. Economic problems increased calls for democracy.
1988, Brazil recognized the legitimacy of Quilombo land. Quilomobos were communities set up by escaped slaves; one of the largest was Brotas Quilombo, in NE Brazil; set upo in 1630, it was about the size of modern-day Portugal. 1,408 Quilomobos are now recognised in Brazil.
22/9/1988, Brazil reached an agreement with its creditors to reschedule debts of US$62.1 billion.
1987, Gold was found on Yanomami indigenous lands in Roraima State, Amazon region. Thousands of illegal diggers moved in, threatening the indigenous peoples’ way of life and the forest ecosystem.
15/3/1985, Brazil returned to civilian rule under President Jose Sarney, after 21 years of military rule.
1979, Military rule became less oppressive. More political Parties were allowed. A period of rapid industrial growt began, lasting until 1985
6/12/1976, Joao Goulart, President of Brazil, died.
5/2/1974, Manuel dos Reis Machado died (born 23/11/1899). In 1932 he set up a School of Capoeira, the martial arts/music culture of Quilombo Black Brazilians.
1973, The world oil crisis ended the economic boom, and Brazil’s foreign debt became the largest in the world.
10/1969, President Costa e Silva fell ill, and was replaced by Emilio Garrastazu Medici. Medici’s rule, lasting for 5 years, was even more repressive than his predecessor, with press censorship and torture.
12/1968, President Costa e Silva introduced the A-15 Act, giving him dictatorial powers to dismiss the National Congress and remove politicians from office. It was a response to Church criticism and student riots against military rule, and was the start of 12 years of oppressive rule in Brazil.
3/9/1968, Student riots in Sao Paulo, Brazil, inspired by similar riots in France and Mexico. They were protesting against the military dictatorship that had ruled Brazil since 1964.
11/4/1964, Marshal Humberto Castello Branco became President of Brazil,
1/4/1964, President Goulart of Brazil was overthrown in a military coup, with US support. President Johnson of the USA had feared a socialist takeover of Brazil. Brazil now endured heavy-handed military rule for the next 21 years. The Brazilian Communist Party was banned, land reform cancelled, and trades unions were curbed. However the economy thrived with GDP growth rising from 4% a year to nearly 10% by the early 1970s. The oil crisis of 1973 put a halt to this growth, as did rising levels of foreign debt..
1961, The Xingu National Park was established to attempt to save the culture of the local Amazonian Indians. These were reported by the German explorer Karl von den Steinen to number 3,000 in 35 villages in 1884, but by 1962 numbered just 500, accoridng to the WHO.
1960, Kubitschek lost the Brazilian Presidential elections to Goulart. Goulart had more Leftist policies, promising land reform, greater enfranchisement of Brazil’s illiterate, paid for with tax reforms to increase government revenues. Goulart shifted foreign policy to a more neutral stance, increasing links with the USSR and legalising the Brazilian Communist Party. Goulart was strongly supported by the peasantry, but hated by the middle class and military. Goulart’s spending policies raised inflation, which eroded the savings of the middle clssses, further alienating them.
21/4/1960. Brasilia was inaugurated as the new capital of Brazil. The city was planned by Lucio Costa.
1956, Construction work began at Brasilia. The site was then 100km fron any railway or surfaced road.
1956, Juscelino Kubitschek became President (Brazilian Labour Party). He attracted new foreign investment, particularly from the US.
1954, Oil was made a State monopoly.
24/8/1954, President Vargas of Brazil resigned under pressure, and committed suicide. He was succeeded by Vice-President Filho. The US had opposed his Socialist policies
1945, President Vargas was forced out by the military, but regained the Presidency in 1951 elections.
1/11/1942, Brazil replaced the Millreis with the Cruzerio as its currency. One millreis = 1 cruzerio. The millreis was the old currency of Portugal.
11/3/1942, Brazilian President Getúlio Vargas reiterated his powers to declare war or a state of national emergency, clearing the way for the seizure of subjects and property of Axis countries. He declared war on Germany.
1932, Manuel dos Reis Machado, also known as Mestra Bimba, (1899-1974), a Black Brazilian professional fighter from Salvador Province, founded a Capoiera school, reviving a tradition going back to the 1600s when escaped slaves set up Quilombo communities (see 1988 above, also Race Equality) and developed Capoeira as a means of self-defence. This form of ,atrial art combines elements of music, dance and acrobatics, and has now spread worldwide.
1/11/1930, Vargas dissolved the Brazilian Congress and assumed dictatorial powers. However despite his absiolute power he was admired for his nationalist policies and economic success.
26/10/1930, Vargas became President of Brazil. He was known as the ‘Father of the Poor’, as he boosted job opprortunities through rapid industrialisation, to make up for job losses in the coffee sector.
1929, The Wall Street Crash slashed the global demand for coffee. The coffee price collapsed
1927, Henry Ford founded the town of Fordlandia, in 6,000 square miles of the Amazon rainforest on the banks of the Tapajos River. It was 18 hours by riverboat from the nearest town. He aimed to provide living conditions similar to those at his North American car plants, and the Brazilian rubber plantation workers were paid 35 cents an hour, 10 cents more than workers on rubber plantations in south east Asia. Howerver the Brazilina workers disliked the food available, the strict laws on alcohol and relationships with women, and being forced to attend square dances. The housing was unsuitable as unlike traditional accommodation, it was not raised on stilts to keep out insects. Finally, the local soil was found unsuitable to growing rubber plants. In 1934 Fordlandia was abandoned and operations transferred to Belterra, 14 km away, a much larger operation. This too was abandoned in 1945 when it proved unprofitable. However whilst Fordlandia was left derelict, Belterra survives today as a tourist town.
12/6/1926. Brazil left the League of Nations.
3/1900, The secessionist province of Acre, which had declared independence in 7/1899, was regained by Brazil.
1899, Brazil became a Republic.
23/11/1899, Manuel dos Reis Machado was born (died 5/2/1974). In 1932 he set up a School of Capoeira, the martial arts/music culture of Quilombo Black Brazilians.
15/11/1898, In Brazil, President Moraes was succeeded by Dr Campos Salles, who had previously been Governor of the State of Sao Paulo.
1897, The original ‘favela’ was erected on the Morro de Castelo, Rio de Janiero, by soldiers returning from the Canudos Campaign, who had gone unpaid. It is now a generic word for shanty towns, especially in South America.
15/11/1894, In Brazil, General Peixoto was succeeded by Dr Prudente de Moraes Barros. The influence of the military on Brazilian politics was thereafter gradually reduced.
23/8/1982, Manoel Fonseca, First President of Brazil, died.
1891, Brazil adopted a Federal Constitution. Rivalry between the States and also the military caused political tensions.
5/12/1891, Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, died.
25/2/1891, The new Provisional Government of Brazil, having excersised dictatorial powers for a year, now held elections. Manoel Fonseca was elected First President.
15/11/1889, The Brazilian monarchy was overthrown in a military revolt, headed by Manoel Fonseca. Dom Pedro was dethroned as Emperor of Brazil, and the First Republic was proclaimed. Pedro II went into exile in Paris, departing Brazil on 17/11/1889. Global demand for coffee was boosting the Brazilian economy.
1888, Whilst Pedro II was away in Europe, his daughter Isabella governed Brazil. Slavery was completely abolished, but this led to a revolt by the military and landowners.
14/5/1887, Manoel Fonseca called for more political rights for officers in the Brazilian Army.
1871, Brazil passed a law for the (gradual) emancipation of slaves.
1870, Brazil won the War of the Triple Alliance with Argentina and Uruguay against Paraguay, gaining some territory from Paraguay.
6/9/1850, Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil enacted a law authorising steam navigation on the River Amazon, The Compania de Navigicao e Commercio do Amazonas was then formed in Rio de Janeiro in 1852 and in 1853 it began operating steamships on the Amazon.
1845, A ten-year effort by Rio Grande do Sul to break away from Brazil as an independent Republic ended in defeat.
24/9/1834, Pedro I, Emperor of Brazil, died.
1831, Military revolt after a war with Argentina. Emperor Pedro I abdicated and was succeeded by his five-year-old son, Pedro II.
2/12/1830, Pedro II, Emperor of Brazil, was born.
5/8/1827, Manoel Fonseca, first President of the United States of Brazil, was born.
29/8/1825, Portugal formally recognised the independence of Brazil.
4/8/1824. The USA gave formal diplomatic recognition to the newly independent Brazil.
2/7/1823, Portuguese forces, sent tio Bahia to recover the rebel colony of Brazil, were forced by Brazilian troops to retreat to their ships.
1/12/1822, Dom Pedro was crowned Emperor of newly independent Brazil.
7/9/1822, Brazil proclaimed its independence from Portugal, with Pedro I as Emperor.
1821, King Joao returned to Portugal. His son Pedro was made Regent of Brazil.
16/1/1816, Brazil proclaimed its independence from Portugal, with the Portuguese Prince Regent Joao as Emperor.
1807, The French under Nnapoleon I invaded Portugal, King Joao I fled to Brazil with a British escort. In return, Brazil opened its ports to foreign trade (benefitting Britain as a major trading nation).
1789, The Inconfidencia rebellion, led by Tiradentes, failed to secure Brazilian independence.
1763, Rio de Janiero became the national capital.
1727, Coffee production began in Brazil.
10/10/1711, Duguay Trouin threatened to burn down Rio de Janeiro, compelling its Governor to negotiate a settlement (see 12/9/1711), Trouin was paid 600,000 Crusados, 500 cases of sugar, and given provisions for the French fleet’s return to Europe. Trouin then sailed to Bahia to attempt to extract more spoils. However a storm sank two of his ships, along with a significant part of the money had had received, and he then sailed directly back to France.
12/9/1711, Another French invasion force attacked Rio de Janeiro, in reprisal for the events of 1710. 6,000 troops landed under Duguay Trouin, and after 4 days fighting they captured the city. However Brazilian reinforcements from Minais were on their way. See 10/10/1791.
1710, France started an invasion of the Portuguese colony of Brazil. Under Duclerc, 1,000 men landed and attacked Rio de Janiero. However half his men were killed asnd the rest taken prisoner, The prisoners were not treated well.
1695, Gold was discovered in what is now the Minas Gerais region of Brazil.
6/2/1694, Portuguese forces in Brazil captured Macaco, the past stronghold of the Palmares, after a siege of 42 days. The Palmares were Africans, Mocambos, who had fled from the Brazilian plantations and established their own de-facto independent state in eastern Brazil in the early 1600s. The name Palmares derives from the palm trees of the area which provided food and shelter.
1674, The settlement of Manaus, Brazil, was founded, 1,601 km from the mouth of the Amazon.
1630, The Repiublic of Palmares was founded in N E Brazil by escaped slaves. It was about the size of modern-day Portugal.
1630, The Dutrch established large sugar plantations in north-east Brazil, which the Portuguese could not expel as they were under Spanish rule. Eventually, in 1554m a naval force from Rio de Janiero did expel them.
1580, Brazil became part of the Spanish Empire, when Spain took control of Portugal – until 1640.
1557, The Portuguese founded the city of Sao Paulo.
1555l, French Hugenots fleeing persecution at home established a colony on an uisland in Rio de janiero harbour. They wre expelled in 1567 by Mem de Sa, who founded the city of Rio de Janeiro.
3/1549, Salvador da Bahia was established as Brazil’s first colonial capital. A Captain-General was sent by Portugal to establish a centralised Government. He was accompanied by Jesuit priests who explored and proselytiused in the interior of Brazil,
12/3/1537, The Portuguese founded the city of Recife, Brazil.
1534, The first African slaves were imported into Brazil by the Portuguese.
1532, The Portuguese established their first colony in Brazil, at Sao Vicente, near Sao Paulo.
22/4/1500. The Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvarez Cabral discovered the coast of Brazil. He claimed this territory for Portugal, which he named Vera Cruz or ‘true cross’ but which was to be called Brazil, after the red-coloured brazil-wood, which grew there.
1494, The Treaty of Tordesillas set a boundary between Spanish and Portuguese colonisation, which was to award Portugal roughly the eastern half of Brazil.