Vargas Era Social Policies: An Inquiry into Brazilian Malnutrition during the Estado Novo (1937–45)
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Social policies were key elements in the Brazilian corporatist state constructed after Getúlio Vargas assumed power in 1930. Although he did not commit the state to sweeping social policies until the Estado Novo’s inception in late 1937, a perceptive Vargas would have recognized that Brazilian sentiments increasingly leaned in that direction after 1930. Scholarly articles, journalistic reports, and newspaper editorials regularly broached social issues as diverse as nutrition, education, housing, labor, physical fitness, and the family. At the same time, political extremists often justified their actions with calls for social reforms. After declaring the Estado Novo, Vargas strengthened his dictatorship by appropriating his political opponents’ mantra of social reform and endorsing social policies advocated by political moderates. The wedding of social policies to a corporatist state constituted one of Vargas’s most important legacies and remains controversial in the current period of neoliberalism. This study assesses Estado Novo social policies directed at one of Brazil’s most serious and persistent ills, malnutrition.
KeywordsFood Price Federal District Social Reform Fresh Meat Wage Data
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