History of Brazil

k office in 1946. Vargas returned to power in 1951, this time democratically elected, but he was incapable of either governing under a democracy or of dealing with an active opposition, and he committed suicide in 1954.

Contemporary era

Several brief interim governments succeeded after Vargas's suicide. Juscelino Kubitscheck became president in 1956 and assumed a conciliatory posture towards the political opposition that allowed him to govern without major crises. The economy and industrial sector grew remarkably, but his greatest achievement was the construction of the new capital city of Brasília, inaugurated in 1960. His successor was Jânio Quadros, who resigned in 1961 less than a year after taking office. His vice-president, João Goulart, assumed the presidency, but aroused strong political opposition and was deposed in April 1964 by a coup that resulted in a military regime.

The new regime was intended to be transitory but it gradually closed in on itself and became a full dictatorship with the promulgation of the Fifth Institutional Act in 1968. The repression of the dictatorship's opponents, including urban guerrillas, was harsh, but not as brutal as in other Latin American countries. Due to the extraordinary economic growth, known as an "economic miracle", the regime reached its highest level of popularity in the years of repression. General Ernesto Geisel became president in 1974 and began his project of re-democratization through a process that he said would be "slow, gradual and safe." Geisel ended the military indiscipline that had plagued the country since 1889, as well as the torture of political prisoners, censorship of the press, and finally, the dictatorship itself, after he extinguished the Fifth Institutional Act. However, the military regime continued, under his chosen successor General João Figueiredo, to complete the transition to full democracy.

The civilians fully returned to power in 1985 when José