Myth and Memory: Getúlio Vargas’s Long Shadow over Brazilian History

Part of the Studies of the Americas book series (STAM)


The Rio de Janeiro Carnival of 2000 commemorated the fifth centenary of the discovery of Brazil by the Portuguese. The city’s leading samba schools, which organize the parades that march through the 80,000-seat Sambadrome and are televised worldwide, chose to showcase different facets of Brazilian history. One of the largest and most successful samba schools, Portela, chose “Workers of Brazil—the Getúlio Vargas Era” as their theme. The lyrics of Portela’s samba, put to music by hundreds of drummers and sung and danced by thousands of dancers as they made their way through the filled Sambadrome in the early hours of the morning of March 6, reflect the curious hold of Getúlio Vargas over Brazil’s historical memory in the half century since he famously took his “first step into history.”


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© Jens R. Hentschke 2006

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