SMALL FARMER AND RURAL WORKER
PRESSURE GROUPS IN BRAZIL
NEALE JOHN PEARSON
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
Neale John Pearson
Organized pressure groups play an exceedingly important role
in the functioning of a political system.^ Numerous writers have
suggested the need of making studies of pressure groups and a
few interesting studies have appeared, but very little is really
David B. Truman, The Governmental Process (Twelfth Printing;
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1962), pp. 47_51 and 403-524; Joseph La
Palombara, Interest Groups in Italian Politics (Princeton: Princeton
University Press, 1964), pp. 1314 and 255258; Harold Eckstein,
Pressure Group Politics (Stanford: Stanford University Press, I960),
esp. pp. 7-39 and 151-161; Joseph La Palombara, "The Utility and
Limitations of Interest Group Theory in Non-American Field Situa
tion," Journal of Pol itics. Vol. XXII (February, I960), pp. 29"49;
and Roy Hacridis, "Interest Groups in Comparative Analysis," Journal
of Politics. Vol. XXIII (February, 1961), pp. 2545.
^George I. Blanksten, "Political Groups in Latin America,"
American Political Science Review. Vol. LI I I (March, 1959), p. 122;
Gabriel A. Almond, "A Comparative Study of Interest Groups and the
Political Process," American Political Science Review, Vol. XLI
(March, 1958), pp. 270-282; Henry W. Ehrmann, Interest Groups on Four
Continents (University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, Pa., 1964);
Glucio Ary Soares, "Interesse Poltico, Conflito e Presses e
Abstencao Eleitoral," Revista de Direito Publico e Ciencia Poltica,
Vol. IV (January, 1961), pp. 58-82; George k Blanksten, "The Politics
of Latin America," in The Politics of Developing Areas, Gabriel Almond
and James Coleman (ed.) (Princeton: Princeton University Press, I960),
pp. 455-529; and Merle Kling, "The State of Research in Latin America:
Political Science," in Social Science Research in Latin America,
Charles Wagley (ed.) (New York, N.Y. : Columbia University Press, 1964),
Merle Kling, A Mexican Interest Group in Action (New York,
N.Y. : Prentice Hall, 1961), Frank R. Brandenburg, "Organized
Business in Mexico," Inter-American Economic Affairs. Vol. XII
(Winter, 1958), pp. 26-50; Manoel Cardozo, "The Brazilian Church
and the New Left," Journal of Inter-American Studies (July, 1964),
pp. 313323; Leonard D. Therry, "Dominant Power Components in the
Brazilian University Student Movement Prior to April, 1964,"
Journal of Inter-American Studies (January, 1965), pp. 2748.
i i i
known about the activities of pressure groups in genera] in Latin Amer
ica and even less is known about small farmer and rural worker organ
izations.' it is especially important to study agricultural pressure
groups in Brazil because
1. 50-60 per cent of the population is rural, and
2. It is a large and complex country with groups ranging from
the Amazon Indians who are still at the level of the Stone or Bronze
age to the urban inhabitants of Sao Paulo who live in the age of the
Of course it must be remembered that interest groups analysis
is neither an exclusive nor a complete method of evaluating the deci
sion-making process. Nevertheless, case studies do provide concrete
data upon which further generalizations can be constructed which may
buttress or qualify existing hypotheses. It is upon this premise
that this study has been undertaken.
'Among the earliest were John Powell, "Preliminary Report on
the Federacin Campesina de Venezuela, Origins, Leadership and Role
in Agrarian Reform Programs" (Madison: University of Wisconsin,
Land Tenure Center, 1964) (mimeographed); Richard Patch, "Bolivia,
United States1 Assistance in a Revolutionary Setting," in Richard
Adams, et al., Social Change in Latin America (New York: Vintage
Books, Random House, I960), pp. 108-176, which discusses the
participation of peasant groups in the post-1952 Revolutionary
period, especially in Agrarian Reform; and Henry Landsberger and
Fernando Canitrot, Iglesia, clase media y el movimiento sindica!
campes i no (Santiago: Universidad de Chile, Faculty of Economics)
(mimeographed); Neale J. Pearson, "The Confederacin Nacional
Campesina de Guatemala (CNCG) and Peasant Unionism in Guatemala,
1944," unpublished Master's Thesis, Georgetown University, 1964,
and "Latin American Peasant Pressure Groups and the Modernization
Process," Journal of Internationa] Affairs, Vol. XX (1966), No. 2,
pp. 309-317; and Anbal Q.uijano, "Contemporary Peasant Movements,"
Elites in Latin America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1967),
The only descriptive and theoretical analysis of recent peasant
Ten Years of Agitation and Change
In Brazil, the Army, large landowners, bankers, industrial
ists, merchants, and the Roman Catholic Church were the principal
pressure groups active in the political life of the Portuguese
colony and nation until the twentieth century. Since World War I,
organized urban workers have exercised some influence through their
trade unions (sindicatos).^ In the past thirty-five years, co
operatives of small farmers in the South have sometimes found means
of protecting or advancing their interests at the local and state
level, but organized groups of peasants^ have been important at the
national level only in the last decade.
Peasants and their problems first became an important subject
of interest to the general public in Brazil after a series of articles
movements in Brazil is that of the Dutch Sociologist Benno Galjart,
"Class and 'Following1 in Rural Brazil," America Latina (Rio de
Janeiro), July-September, 1964, p. 3-
^For the beginnings of the Brazilian labor movement see the
following books by Robert Alexander, Communism in Latin America (New
Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1957)> Chapter
VII, and Chapters on Brazil in Labor Relations in Argentina,
Brazi 1 and Chile (New York: McGraw Hill, 1962), and Organized
Labor in Latin America (Studies in Contemporary Latin America)
(New York: The Free Press, 1965), Chapter VI.
There is no standard definition of peasant for Latin America
or any other part of the world. This writer accepts a part of Eric
R. Wolf's definition that they are any kind of "rural cultivator"
of low status who works on the land with his hands and has some
consciousness of the regional or national economic and political
order in which he lives. The definition does not cover those who
practice s1ash-and-burn agriculture and who would most closely fit
the folk or kinship community on a fold-urban community continuum.
The definition also does not pre-judge that peasant surpluses are
necessarily transferred to a dominant group of rulers. Wolf's
concept, as expressed in Peasants (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey:
Prentice Hall, 1966), pp. 34, includes not only owners but also
tenants, landless laborers, share-croppers, serfs, etc.
was published in the late 1950's about Francisco Juliao Arruda de
Paula, a hitherto obscure Pernambuco Alternate State Deputy, who
helped organize Peasant Leagues in the Northeast.' Juliao, who
had switched from the Republican Party (PR) to the Brazilian
Socialist Party (PSB) combined a moralistic indignation about
legitimate grievances of Pernambuco peasants with an astute percep
tion of the propaganda value of his real and alleged connections
with various world leaders, including Pope John XXIII and Mao Tse-
tung. This was the time when Fidel Castro made his great impact
on Latin America, and United States officials worried about another
radical revolutionary taking over in a much larger country than Cuba.
Most of the articles on Juliao and the Peasant Leagues were polemical
or laudatory in the extreme; only a small number of academicians and
even fewer journalists tried to find out more about Juliao's back
ground and place in the context of traditional Brazilian politics.3
Juliao first gained nationwide attention in a series of
articles by Antonio Callado in Correio da Manha (Rio de Janeiro),
September 10-23, 1959, which were collected in a book, Os I ndustriais
da Seca e os Gal ileus de Pernambuco (Rio de Janeiro: Editora
Civiliza9ao Brasileira, I960).
Further controversy in the Brazilian Congress and the news
media led to the publication of an article "A Revoluto das Enxadaj,"
Mnchete (Rio de Janeiro), No. 398, December, 1959, pp. 84-86, which
publicized the funeral of Antonio de Paula, "first martyr of the
peasant leagues" without mentioning his kinship relationship to
First significant mention in the United States Press came in
an article by Tad Szulc, "Brazil's Poverty Breeding Unrest," New
York Times (October 31, I960), p. 1.
^"Now There's Another 'Castro' to Worry U.S.," U.S. News and
World Report (March 13, 1961), pp. 5354, and "Fidel Front Organizes
Impoverished Peasants," Life (June 2, 1961), pp. 82-88, are typical.
^One of the few writers to understand the "manufactured crises"
In short, little scholarly attention was paid to the Peasant Leagues
phenomenon although a great deal of literature was published.
At the same time, other politicians, and even plantation owners
began to organize sindicatos and other organizations. The politicians
organized the peasants as springboards for political advancement.
The clergymen, in reaction to the demagoguery of many politicians,
organized the peasants to alleviate their misery. And the large
plantation owners and sugar mill operators organized the peasants
to inhibit the growth of organized peasant interest groups making
demands upon themselves. These groups seldom received or sought
the publicity given Juliao and the Peasant Leagues. In all of these
groups, there were personal and ideological differences between
actual and potential leaders over policies and tactics. It is also
essential to view the growth and actions of peasant pressure groups
in a context in which techniques varied from state to state and
region to region. There were few monolithic patterns of behavior.
The emergence of the new groups was accompanied by violence and
extra-legal activities.' But in the Brazilian context, it is
or "emergencies" of Northeast politics was Stefan H. Robock, "Fact
and Fancy in Northeast Brazil," The Progressive. Vol. XXVII, No. 4
(April, 1963), pp. 3740, and Brazil's Developing Northeast (Wash
ington: The Brookings Institution, 1963).
Anthony Leeds, "Brazil and the Myth of Francisco Juliao," in
Politics of Change in Latin America. Joseph Maier and R. W. Weather-
head (eds.) (New York: Frederick Praeger, 1964), p. 164, is one of
the few articles which note Juliao's origins as a member of the
landed gentry in Pernambuco, although a "somewhat aberrant and
individualistic but, not properly speaking, dissident faction of it."
'james L. Payne, "Peru, the Politics of Structured Violence,"
Journal of Politics. Vol. XXVI1, No. 2 (May, 1965), PP* 362-374, and
Labor and Politics in Peru (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965),
pp. viii-ix and 326, offers a model in the use of structured violence
impractical to view politics and peasant-1andowner relations in many
areas of the country in a constitutional framework, for constitu
tionalism, equal access to decision-makers for all groups, and the
rule of law were not the model patterns of interaction.' Violence
or power capabilities in the form of strikes, armed invasions of
plantations, destruction of bridges or telephone systems, assassina
tion of a farm administrator or peasantor fabricated reports of
such incidentsare not aberrations or anomic behavior^ in the
Brazilian scene but are "normal" in a purely descriptive sense.^
parallel to that of the traditional areas of the Northeast and West
Central parts of Brazil.
'Albert 0. Hirschman, Journeys Toward Progress (Studies of
Economic Policy-Making in Latin America) (New York: Twentieth
Century Fund, 1963), p. 229, notes that the mechanisms for com
manding attention of policy makers differ greatly from one society
to another. For example, if the principal mechanism is the demon
stration of discontent by violence, then it is clear that a great
many problems which affect individual members of society will not
be dealt with simply because they do not lend themselves to the
staging of violent protest. "Once it has become clear that policy
makers are responsive to threats of violence in one particular
area, such threats will be delivered with increasing frequency"
when it appears that "the State will only help those who make trouble
The term "power-capability" is taken from Charles W. Anderson,
Political and Economic Change in Latin America (Princeton, New Jersey
D. Van Nostrand, 1967), pp. 90-91. Anderson's sections on political
systems, the decision-making process and the administrative process
die based primarily on the Spanish-speaking countries but much of what
he says is valid for Brazil.
3|_a Palombara, Interest Groups in Italian Politics, pp. 82-83,
notes: "With rare exceptions even the desperate peasants who forcibl
occupy land, or the workers who refuse to leave factories, tack such
anomic action because of the leadership provided by more than one
^"Sindicato do crime ainda existe em todo o Nordeste," Jornal
do Bras i 1 (April 6, 1965); "Q.uestao de banditismo e atavica," and
"Como, onde e porque se morre em Alagoas," Joma 1 do Bras i 1 (April
They have happened frequently and they are politically significant.'
Traditionally, politics in Brazil were conducted by an upper class
which maintained control and preserved the traditional social order
through a heavy reliance on conciliation, co-optation of new economic
and social groups, and paternalism. Peasants, isolated from the
centers of decision-making, saw no real reason to involve them
selves in politics. Elections had no ideological meaning for them.
On the other hand, voting for the candidates of a "political boss"
(chefe politico or coronel) meant not only political protection from
bandits or hired gunmen (cangaceiros) in the isolated interior where
7, 1965. The articles discuss "political banditry" in the Northeast,
especially Alagoas, and its relbtionship with the assassination of Lu
Augusto Castro Silva, State Secretary of Public Security, and an at
tempt on the life of State Deputy Robson Mendes in March, 1965.
Other shootings also marked the July-September 1965 campaign for
'Bonifacio Fortes, "Contribuigao histria poltica do Sergipe
(1933-1954),11 Revista Brasileira de Estudos Polticos. No. 8 (April,
i960), pp. 86-133, indicates that all elections in Sergipe between
1950-1960 were held under Army supervision because of the violence
accompanying previous elections.
Violence as a "legitimate technique" of pressure group activity
is found in many societies. In the United States, for example,
violence has been present in the labor movement and the civil rights
movement. See James W. Vander Zanden, "The Klan Revival," American
Journal of Sociology. Vol. LXV (March, I960), pp. 456-462. In mid-
1967, H. Rap Brown coined the phrase "violence is as American as
James W# Rowe, "The Revolution1 and the 'System1: Notes on
Brazilian Politics," AUFS Reports. East Coast South America Series,
Vol. XII, No. 3 (Brazil), May, 1966, p. 7, indicates the term "o
sistema" was popularized by scholarly journalist Oliveros Ferreira
of 0 Estado de Sao Paulo to describe the remarkable stability of
social structures, informal political institutions, and attitudinal
patterns, and the "joint action by the elites ... to maintain
control and preserve "social peace.1" This concept of "system" is
not to be confused with the concepts of general systems analysis as
used in the behavioral sciences.
the influence of the central or state government was minimal, but it
also meant jobs and opportunity to rent land or to sell crops to the
men who dominated commerce in the region.^ The political emergence
of peasant groups after 1955 brought about some changes in many of
the traditional or transitional political sub-systems of Brazil.
The 1964 Revolution apparently ended the "normal" political processes
and activity of many leading politicians, including Juscelino Ku-
bitschek, Joao Belchior Marques Goulart, Jnio duadros, Leonel Bri
zla, and Francisco Juliao de Arruda Paula. However, many peasant
groups continued to function even though many political leaders were
removed from the system.
Jean Blondel, As Condicoes da Vida Polftica No Estado da
Parafba (Rio de Janeiro: Fundago Getulio Vargas, 1957) pp. 37
72, is an excellent discussion of the social, economic, and polit
ical conditions of not only the state of Paraiba but also of the
Northeast interior where balloting was seldom secret. Marcos V i n i
cius Vilaga and Roberto Cavalcanti de Albuquerque, Coronel, Coron is
(Rio de Janeiro: Edigoes Tempo Brasileiro, 1965) Â¡s a sympathetic
portrait of four Pernambuco twentieth century "bosses" who were
both sources of law and judges of proper social conduct: Francisco
"Chico" Romao of Serrita; Jose Albilio de Albuquerque Avila of Bom
Conselho; Francisco "Chico" Heraclio de Rego of Limoeiro; and
Veremundo Soares of Salgueiro.
^Gabriel Almond, "Comparative Political Systems," Journal of
Politics, Vol. XV111, No. 3 (August, 1956), pp. 391-409; Gabriel
Almond and James S. Coleman, The Politics of the Developing Areas
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1960) pp. 540-541, and
Edward C. Banfield, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (Glencoe,
Illinois: The Free Press, 1958), pp. 85-104, and Max P. Millikin
and Donald L. M. Blackmer (eds.), The Emerging Nations. Their
Growth and United States Policy (Boston: Little, Brown and Company,
1961), pp. 21-26 and 84-90, have been used to create a set of typo
logies for eleven Brazilian states and Municipios with Pernambuco
and Rio Grande do Sul which are contained in the appendix.
Goals and Hypotheses
This study attempts to do the following:
First, place the pre-1955 social, economic, and political system
in context, especially in the ways it affected large landowners, small
farmers, rural workers, renters, and other groups.
Second, identify some of the participants and groups responsible
for a change in the outputs of the national political system and the
state sub-systemsinsofar as they affected peasants and other groups
with whom they interacted.
This will be done by case studies of the Ligas Camponesas.
Sindicatos of Small Farmers and Rural Workers, and Cooperatives of
Small Farmers in several states to show the relative importance
of population distribution, education, social infrastructure,
leadership availability and style, organizational structure, and
the reaction of other individuals, groups, and institutions to
peasant pressure groups.
In doing this, the validity of several major hypotheses will
1. The recently organized activity of peasants is a mixture
of traditional Brazilian means of seeking relief or protection and of
techniques used by pressure groups in all modern societies.
Traditionally, Brazilian peasants have followed those leaders who
provided them with protection and benefits of different types. The
newer peasant pressure groups also have learned to use radio, television,
newspapers and other mass communication media to influence decision
2. The greater availability of highways, railways, and other
forms of communication within a given region and with other regions
encourages and supports the formation of peasant pressure groups or
other political groups using the peasants as a base or springboard
for their own political or social advancement.
3. Although cooperatives and other associations may originally
have been formed for non-political ends, a principal reason for their
continued existence and/or growth is their ability to resort to polit
4. Peasant pressure groups have survived and functioned in
communities with a social infra-structure containing organized formal
and informal groups and not survived or functioned in those communities
and regions without these groups.*
Formal groups include Church organizations, school boards, and
agricultural associations. Informal groups include such institutions
as the muti rao (cooperative work exchange similar to the barn-raising
or corn-husking bees found in the United States).
5. Leadership of peasant pressure groups will come from outside
the ranks of the peasantry in less-modernized states or regions although
these leaders may have rural origins. In modernized or modernizing
regions, leadership of such groups will be made up of both peasants
'William Kornhauser, The Politics of Mass Society (Glencoe,
Illinois: The Free Press, 1959), and Seymour M. Upset, Pol i t i cal
Man, the Social Bases of Politics. Anchor Book Edition (Garden City:
Doubleday and Company, 1963), Chapter II, are especially relevant
for their discussion of the roles of intermediate or voluntary
groups in contributing to more pluralistic and less authoritarian
or totalitarian societies.
x i I
and other persons of higher status and education. One important corol
lary is that the nature and origin of these groups will greatly determine
the recruitment of middle and lower level leaders from among the
peasantry or urban middle classes.
In those groups organized by the communists or urban politicians,
few or no peasants will determine policy; in those groups organized by
the Church, priests, ministers, and laymen will play important roles
in making policy.
6. A comprehensive radical or reformist ideology for these peasant
groups will be created by urban intellectuals and not the peasants. The
specific goals and grievances of peasants themselves will not normally
be a part of the comprehensive ideology brought in by outsiders although
these goals and grievances may be included later at a certain stage of
the organizational process.
A radical or revolutionary ideology is one which calls for the
abolition of the social and property structures of society. A reform
ist ideology seeks changes in the social, economic, and political
structure or society but without abolishing the existing political or
7. A peasant pressure group is revolutionary or reform-minded
depending on (a) the motives of the outsiders who ally themselves with
peasants; (b) the conditions under which the help of outsiders is
rendered; and (c) the style and integration of the political sub-system
under which a peasant group operates. In other words, it is necessary
to examine the perceptions of important decision makers and influentials
x i i i
in the sub-system and the access given newly emerging political and
social groups by decision makers.'
In order to examine the structures and functions of small farmer
and rural worker groups, and the development of such structures and
functions, the writer reviewed the available published literature at
the libraries of the University of Florida, the Inter-American Regional
Labor Organization (ORIT) in Mexico, and the Inter-American College of
Agriculture and Social Sciences at Turrialba, Costa Rica. He then
conducted brief periods of field research on peasant groups in Mexico,
Costa Rica, Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina prior to pursuing nine months
of field research in Brazil. In conducting this study, he sought to
examine the variables mentioned in the original guiding hypotheses plus
other variables and influences which developed in the course of this
study, and which are discussed in the concluding chapter.
The writer sought to identify those factors which were important
to the survival and effectiveness of these pressure groups. In particular,
the writer based many of his research techniques on the previous work
on interest groups and intermediate voluntary groups by David Truman,
Joseph La Palombara, Gabriel Almond, Robert Alexander, WiIlian Kornhauser,
Henry A. Landsberger, "The Labor Elite: Is it Revolutionary?" in
Lipset and Solari, op. cit.. pp. 268-269, notes the "organized pressure
through economic and/or political channels" of a large sector of society
to "improve its living and working conditions" for the first time, "in
itself constitutes a revolution." See also Lipset, Political Man. pp.
7790, for his discussion of the "ways in which different societies
handle the crisis of the 'entry into politics' of new social groups."
and Seymour Lipset, which have been referred to above. In addition,
the writer utilized the lessons learned in studying monolithic local
power elites in the work of Floyd Hunter, the work by Robert Dahl
on pluralistic power structures in which specialized groups influenced
local government decisions and activities in specific issue areas, and
the work by Gladys Kammerer, John DeGrove, Alfred Clubok, and Charles
Ferris^ on competitive cliques in Florida cities. A mimeographed
interview schedule was developed with structured closed end and un
structured open ended questions in order to gather background data on
the political influentials and problems involved in this study. This
formal interview schedule was discarded, however, because of the general
reluctance of Brazilians to respond to written questionnaires. Instead,
other techniques were used to gain interviewee confidence and to elicit
the information for which the interview schedule originally was
designed (see pp. 275278). Over the course of time, information was
sought on the age, education, birthplace, religion, occupational history,
organizational experiences, and power relationships.
The writer determined fairly early in his research that the federal
system of Brazilian government might be an important contributing factor
in determining the relative importance of different variables in dif
ferent settings. He therefore decided to select a few sample states
'Floyd Hunter, Community Power Structure (Garden City: Anchor
Books, Doubleday and Company, 1963).
Robert A. Dahl Who Governs? Democracy and Power in an American
Citv (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1961).
^Gladys M. Kammerer, et al.. City Managers in Politics (University
Monographs in the Social Sciences, No. 13) (Gainesville: University of
Florida Press, 1962).
and municipos in each region and also to spend as much time as possible
in rural areas because of the great quantity of published material in
Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo on political conditions and "peasant
groups" in Pernambuco and the relative lack of material on other states
such as Rio Grande do Norte, Paran, Sao Paulo, and Rio Grande do Sul.
Several municipios were selected in six states on the basis of their
similar and differing characteristics such as area, population, colon
ization and/or settlement processes, ethnic, religious, and economic
make-up, literacy, and the existence or absence of functioning pressure
groups and political parties. Although the writer was not able to fol
low his original schedule of travel for various reasons, he utilized
his time as follows:
Rio Grande do Sul (three months, principally in Porto Alegre,
Caxias do Sul, Gramado, Nova Petrpolis, Santa Cruz do Sul,
Venancio Aires, Santa Marfa, and Lajeado)
Sao Paulo (one month, principally in Sao Paulo, Jabotfcabal ,
and Bragan^a Paulista)
Guanabara and the State of Rio de Janeiro (one month)
Bahia (one week at a meeting of the National Executive Council
of Catholic Agrarian Youth (JAC) at Itaparfca Island, plus
three days in nearby Salvador)
Pernambuco (two months, principally in Recife, Jaboatao, Vitoria
de Santo Antao, Bom Jardim, Cabo, Palmares, and Afogados de
Parafba (two weeks, principally in Joao Pessoa)
Alagoas (ten days, principally in Colonia Pindorama, near Penedo)
Rio Grande do Norte (ten days, principally in Natal and Sao
The writer sought to determine political party and pressure group
power structures and relations with other power holders by interviewing
formal power holders and knowledgeables in sindicatos. federations, co
operatives, political parties, churches, newspapers, Ministries, Army
Headquarters, landowner associations, universities, urban trade unions,
and the catalytic organizations such as SAR, SORPE, and FAG, and by at
tempting to identify the major participants in certain selected critical
decisions. (The names of these influentials and knowledgeables are
listed in the bibliography.) The writer also collected information on
several elections in order to make possible correlations between voting
and pressure group behavior. After his return to the United States,
a reading of James L. Payne's Labor and Politics in Peru and several
Brazilian novels helped give the writer a conceptual framework in which
to place the role of the structured violence he had observed in many
parts of Brazil. And finally he prepared numerous tables, maps, and
charts, many of which are contained in this study in order to test the
validity of the hypotheses in this study.
All interviews were conducted by the writer in Portuguese or
Japanese with the exception of several interviews with Americans in
English and several German-speaking persons in Rio Grande do Sul in
which Emiliano Lemberger was of help in interpreting answers to
All translations are by the author unless otherwise stated.
This study could not have been made without the help of many small
farmers, rural laborers, sharecroppers, priests, ministers, professors,
students, lawyers, and agricultural extension agents who shared their
knowledge, experience, and, on occasion, homes with the writer. The
following were especially helpful.
1. Dr. Jos Arthur Rios, Director of the Sociedade de Pesquisas
e Planejamento and the Instituto de Estudos para o Desenvolvimento Social
e Econmico, Rio de Janeiro, his secretary Dona Cndida, and office as
sistant, Senhor Damio, who allowed the writer to use their office in
Rio de Janeiro. Dr. Rios, a former Visiting Professor of Sociology
at the University of Florida, was most helpful in providing contacts
with many informants who were valuable sources of information.
2. Dr. Jos Vicente Freitas Marcondes, Superintendent of the
Instituto Cultural do Trabalho (Labor Culture Institute or ICT) of Sao
Paulo, another former Visiting Professor of Sociology at the University
of Florida, who allowed the use of the ICT's facilities and provided
data on urban and rural labor leaders taking ICT courses. Dr. Freitas
Marcondes also was of great help in providing information on the
development of Brazilian labor and social legislation.
3. Dona Lucia de S Barreto, special assistant to Padre Paulo
Crespo, whose cheer and knowledge of the intricacies of the peasant
movement in the Northeast are truly remarkable.
4. Sam Shapiro and Jack Lieboff, Assistant Labor Attaches in
the United States Embassy in Rio de Janeiro and in the Consulate
General of Sao Paulo.
5.John Snyder, regional representative of the Postal, Telegraph,
and Telephone Workers International in Rio de Janeiro, who gave the
writer access to newspaper articles on peasant and labor organizations
collected by the Lux-Jornal clipping service. The members of his
staff, Donas Regina, Alicia and Delia Montesinos were almost most cooperative,
xv i i i
6. Timothy Hogan, Northeast Brazil representative of the
Cooperative League of the United States in 19631965, who permitted
the writer to use his newspaper file on the Northeast.
7. Arthur Lopez, Northeast Brazil representative of the
American Institute of Free Labor Development in 1964-1965, for
the use of his offices and files in Recife.
8. Miss Cynthia Hewitt, a graduate student at the Institute
of Latin American Affairs, Columbia University, who spent the
summer of 1965 doing research in Pernambuco and who accompanied
the writer on several delightful trips into the backlands.
9. My mother, Mrs. Bastiana J. Pearson.
10. The Veterans Administration which helped with a loan in
the fall of 1965.
11. Dr. Harry Kantor, Professor of Political Science at the
University of Florida, whose "friendly persistence and harassment"
to finish this project is highly appreciated by the writer and his wife.
12. My wife Jeanette (Jaye) and Mrs. Celia Lescano for the many
hours spent typing the draft and manuscript.
Although many persons were helpful in supplying facts and inter
pretations ^al 1 the conclusions and opinions in this study are my own.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF TABLES xxii
LIST OF FIGURES xxv
GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS FOR INTEREST GROUPS, GOVERNMENT
AGENCIES, AND POLITICAL PARTIES IN BRAZIL xxix
GLOSSARY OF FOREIGN TERMS AND PHRASES xxxiH
I.AGRICULTURE AND AGRICULTURAL LABOR IN ITS HISTORI
CAL, ECONOM I C AND SOCIAL SETTING IN BRAZIL ... 1
II.THE POLITICAL SYSTEM WITHIN WHICH RURAL PRESSURE
GROUPS FUNCTION 45
III.THE BIG LANDOWNER PRESSURE GROUPS AND NON-AGRI -
CULTURAL FORCES AFFECTING AGRICULTURAL AND
PEASANT POLICIES 62
IV. THE LIGAS CAMPONESAS AS A PRESSURE GROUP 89 Â¡S'
V.THE IMPACT OF THE CHURCH-SPONSORED LITERACY MOVEMENTS
AND PRESSURE GROUPS IN THE NORTH AND NORTHEAST 144
VI.CHANGES IN THE POLITICAL PARTICIPATION OF SMALL
FARMERS AND RURAL WORKERS IN THE SOUTH 204
VII.ORGANIZATION AND CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NATIONAL,
STATE, AND LOCAL LEADERSHIP OF BRAZILIAN
PEASANT GROUPS 263
VIII. CONCLUSIONS 297
1. MANIFESTO OF THE MOVEMENT OF LANDLESS AGRICULTORS
(MASTER), APRIL, I960 340
TABLE OF CONTENTS (cont.)
2. STATUTES OF THE "MOVEMENT OF LANDLESS AGRICULTORS ,"
APRIL, I960 3^2
3. THE DIRECTORY OF OFFICERS OF THE CONFEDERATION OF
AGRICULTURAL WORKERS (CONTAG) ELECTED APRIL 14,
1965, RIO DE JANEIRO, GUANABARA, BRASIL 345
LIST OF TABLES
1. NUMBER AND AREA OF FARM ESTABLISHMENTS ACCORDING TO
SIZE 1950 8
2. DISTRIBUTION OF TRACTORS AND PLOWS ACCORDING TO PRE
LIMINARY RESULTS, AGRICULTURAL CENSUS, SEPTEMBER 1,
I960, SELECTED STATES 9
3. PRICES OF SELECTED CONSUMER GOODS IN REPRESENTATIVE
COMPANY STORES, PUBLIC MARKETS, AND A PEASANT CO
OPERATIVE, PERNAMBUCO, JULY, 1965 18
4. DIFFERENCES IN WAGES PAID VARIOUS TYPES OF WORKERS AND
LEGAL MINIMUM WAGES, FOR SPECIFIED STATES, 1957 . 19
5. MEMBERSHIP IN VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS, 1959 26
6. INDICATORS OF FUNCTIONAL LITERACY AND POLITICAL
DEVELOPMENT IN BRAZIL EXPRESSED IN NEWSPAPER CIRCU
LATION AND HOSP I TAL AVA I LAB I L I TY 1959 29
7. A COMPARISON OF SCHOOL FACILITIES, TEACHERS, AND DAILY
ATTENDANCE IN RIO GRANDE DO SUL MUNICIPIOS DE SANTA
CRUZ DO SUL AND VENANCIO AIRES WITH THE PERNAMBUCO
MUNICIPIO OF JABOATAO, SELECTED YEARS, 1938-1964 33
8. NATIONAL ORIGINS OF MEMBERS OF THE STATE ASSEMBLIES
AND FEDERAL DEPUTIES, SELECTED BRAZILIAN STATES,
1963-1965, COMPARED TO IMMIGRATION TO BRAZIL,
1884-1957 (PERCENTAGES) 36
9. SUGAR ENGENHOS WITH SLAVES IN 1881 AND RURAL SINDI
CATOS IN CEARA, DECEMBER, 1963 191
10. PLURALITIES FOR PTB CANDIDATES FOR STATE AND FEDERAL
DEPUTY COMPARED TO MUNICIPIOS WITH MASTER GROUPS,
OCTOBER 7, 1962 222
11. DISTRIBUTION OF MASTER GROUPS IN RIO GRANDE DO SUL, BY
SIZE OF MUNICIPIO AND SIZE OF FARM ESTABLISHMENTS,
LIST OF TABLES (cont.)
12. DELEGATES TO THE SECOND (JULY, 1963) AND THIRD (JANUARY
1965) FAG CONGRESSES, BY DIOCESE, MUNICIPIO, AND
13. OCCUPATIONS OF DELEGATES TO THIRD FAG CONGRESS, PORTO
ALEGRE, JANUARY 15-17, 1965 235
14. SINDICATO ORGANIZATION IN RIO GRANDE DO SUL BY THE FAG
AND MASTER, 1961-1965 237
15. ACTIVELY ORGANIZED OR FUNCTIONING FAG AND MASTER GROUPS
BY MUNICIPIOS ACCORDING TO THE SIZE OF FARM ESTAB
LISHMENTS, 1961-1964 238
16. SUCCESS OF THE FAG AND MASTER IN ORGANIZING RURAL SIN
DICATOS WHICH WERE FUNCTIONING IN APRIL, 1965, BY
MUNICIPIO, ACCORDING TO THE SIZE OF FARM ESTABLISH
17. THE CHRONOLOGICAL ORGANIZATION OF RURAL SINDICATOS BY
THE WORKERS' CIRCLE (CO) MOVEMENT IN SAO PAULO,
1961-1962 ... 252
18. RECOGNIZED AND UNRECOGNIZED RURAL SINDICATOS, 1963~
19. BACKGROUND CHARACTERISTICS OF DELEGATES TO THE FIRST
PEASANT CONGRESS, BELO HORIZONTE, NOVEMBER, I96I,
AND INFLUENTIALS IN THREE SOUTHERN AND THREE NORTH
EASTERN STATES, NOVEMBER 1964-AUGUST 1965 279
20. BACKGROUND CHARACTERISTICS OF DELEGATES TO THE FIRST
PEASANT CONGRESS, BELO HORIZONTE, NOVEMBER, 1961,
AND RURAL WORKER LEADERS IN ICT TRAINING COURSES IN
SAO PAULO (1963-1965) AND RECIFE, PERNAMBUCO (MARCH
22-APRIL 15, 1965) 282
21. PERCEPTIONS OF THE DIFFICULTIES FACED BY PEASANT
(HOMEM DO CAMPO) AMONG DELEGATES TO THE FIRST RURAL
WORKERS CONGRESS, NOVEMBER, 1962 318
22. CATEGORIES OF IMPORTANCE OF THE DIFFICULTIES FACED BY
THE PEASANT AS PERCEIVED BY DELEGATES TO THE FIRST
RURAL WORKERS CONGRESS, NOVEMBER, 1962, BY RELA
TIONSHIP TO THEIR LAND HOLDINGS OR OCCUPATION ... 319
LIST OF TABLES (cont.)
23. CATEGORIES OF IMPORTANCE OF THE DIFFICULTIES FACED BY
THE PEASANT AS PERCEIVED BY DELEGATES TO THE FIRST
RURAL WORKERS CONGRESS, NOVEMBER, 1962, BY REGION
FROM WHICH THE DELEGATES CAME, IN PERCENTAGES ... 320
24. PERCEPTIONS OF WHAT COULD BE DONE TO TRANSFORM THE
COUNTRYSIDE BY DELEGATES TO THE FIRST RURAL WORKERS
CONGRESS, NOVEMBER, 1962, BY OCCUPATIONAL CATEGORY
AND PERCENTAGES 321
25. PEASANT SINDICATOS IN SELECTED STATES BY SIZE OF MUNI
CIPIOS, 1965 336
26. RECOGNITION OF PEASANT SINDICATOS BY LABOR MINISTERS
DURING THE GOULART REGIME, SEPTEMBER 8, 1961 -
DECEMBER 31 1963 337
LIST OF FIGURES
1.Political Map of Brazil, showing places visited in
this study, 1964-1965 xl i
2. A "temporary" one year old hut of squatters, Colonia
Pindorama, near Penedo, Alagoas, July 14, 19&5 12
3. A "traditional" sugar plantation between Macei and Pe
nedo, Alagoas, July, 1965. On the left, a chapel;
in the center, the Casa Grande; on the right, the sugar
mill; and scattered about are other smaller buildings
housing workers or livestock 12
4. Engenho Bento Velho, Municipio of Vitoria de Santo
Antao, Pernambuco, near the paved highway between
Recife and Vitoria de Santo Antao. Engenho Galilia
is about one-half mile to the right over a dirt road.
An administrator manages Bento Velho for Usina
Bul hoes 13
5. A "barracao" or "company store" operated by a Senhor de
Engenho on the dirt highway between Goiana and Tambe,
Pernambuco. Second from the left is Joao Jordao da
Silva, Treasurer of the Federation of Rural Workers of
the State of Pernambuco, July 2, 1965 13
6. The homes of sugar plantation workers lining one of the
roads leading out of Ribeirao Preto, Pernambuco, July
19, 1965 14
7. One of several barracks-style homes for the families of
workers, Engenho Gallo, District of Xexeu, Municipio
of Agua Preta, Pernambuco, July 10, 1965. The En
genho belongs to the family of Senator Francisco
Pessoa de Q.ueiroz, also a major stockholder in Jornal
do Comercio, a radio station, and two television
stat i ons 14
8. The town house of a traditional cattle rancher (estan-
c i eiro) Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, February 27 1967 31
9. From left to right: the rural school-and-home of Ladyr
Rech, President of the FAG Regional Department, a
neighborhood or community recreation center under
construction, Fazenda Souza zone, District of Ana
LIST OF FIGURES (cont.)
Rech, Municipio of Caxias do Sul, Rio Grande do
Sul, February 7, 1965 31
10. Widespread property distribution (95 per cent or
more of farm properties are less than 100 hectares)
leads'- to a greater distribution of medical and
public health facilities, Rio Grande do Sul, I960 39
11. Francisco Juliao addressing a meeting at Engenho
Galilia, Vitoria de Santo Antao, Pernambuco . 96
12. An example of Juliao's use of Fidel Castro as a
Symbol. Photograph of a political rally in
Recife, Pernambuco, following the unsuccessful
Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. The portrait of
the Cuban leader is by Abelardo da Hora, a
"Revolutionary artist." 98
13. The Casa Grande, Engenho Ga1 i lea, Municipio of
Vitoria de Santo Antao, Pernambuco, July 7, 1965.
Members of the first Peasant League converted the
house into a school, teachers did not want to com
mute to or live in the countryside to teach
14. Â¡.Looking down from the porch of the Casa Grande-
school, Engenho Galilia, toward the hills in which
the Engenho is located. Patches of sugar cane and
bananas may be seen in the background 102
15. "Politically Inspired Invasions or Not?" Pictures
of squatters in the Municipios of Itaguai and
Duque de Caxias, State of Rio de Janeiro (August-
September, 1961) 112
16. Location of Peasant Sindicatos in Rio Grande do
Norte, 1965 122
17. Location of Peasant Leagues in Paraiba, 1960-1964 127
18. Location of Peasant Leagues in Pernambuco, 1960-1964 135
19 Bishop Dorn Francisco Mezquita and four organizers of
the SORPE-sponsored Sindicato and Cooperative of
Rural Workers of Palmares, Pernambuco, once
Brazil's biggest peasant sindicatocovering 32
LIST OF FIGURES (cont.)
municipiosand controlled by Gregorio Bezerra,
a Communist, from 1962-1964. The picture was
taken July 29, 1965 145
20. Rural workers waiting to receive spaghetti and
dried milk from the Food for Peace program
sponsored jointly by SORPE, USAID, and the AFL-
CIO, Sindicato of Rural Workers, Vitoria de
Santo Antao, June, 1965 145
21. The Municipal Plaza on Market Day, Bom Jardim,
Pernambuco, July 23, 1965, following a mild
rain storm. Peasant League organizer and Deputy
Francisco Juliao was born in this municipio . 146
22. Pedro de Silva, President of the Sindicato and Co
operative of Rural Workers, Bom Jardim, Pernam
buco, addressing members to discuss formation of
the cooperative sponsored by SORPE, July 23,
1965. Other officers are seated behind Silva 146
23. Members of the Cooperative of Rural Workers of Bom
Jardim, Pernambuco, listening to a talk on Co
operative principles and organization, July 23,
1965. The meeting is being held in a private
school for girls operated by Roman Catholic nuns 147
24. Acacio Fernandes dos Santos, Treasurer and Tociyuki
Takaki, Secretary, of the Federation of Rural
Workers of the State of Rio de Janeiro, visit
squatters in the Municipio of Mage, April 9,
1965. The truck in the background belongs to one
of the Japanese-Brazi1ian squatters who has a highly
productive plot of land on property reportedly
claimed by Fazendas Americanas, a Sao Paulo business
25.One of the principal streets of Punto dos Carvalhos,
15 miles south of Recife on the road to Cabo,
August, 1965. On the left is the Sindicato of
Rural Workers and a nurse (in white), employed
by the Sindicato to treat the illnesses of members 148
2$. Members of the Sindicato of Punto dos Carvalhos enjoy
showing off some of the dental equipment purchased
with Imposto Sindical funds, August 1965. Fourth
xxv i i
LIST OF FIGURES (cont.)
from the left is one of several university
students helping Padre Antonio Hello administer
the sindicato 148
27- Groups Struggling to Control Pernambuco Peasant Sin
dicatos, 1963 1964 I67
28. Location of Peasant Sindicatos in Eastern Paraiba . 186
29- Location of Peasant Sindicatos in Cear 188
30. Small farmer proprietors, members of a "hunting" or
"shooting club" parade through the streets of Nova
Petropolis, Rio Grande do Sul, celebrating the
100th anniversary of its founding, September 7.
1858. In 1902, Padre Teodoro Amstadt of the nearby
village of Linha Imperial founded the first Credit
Cooperative in Brazil for small farmers 259
31. Home and family of Zulmiro Boff, President of the Sin
dicato of Small Farmers, Caxias do Sul, Rio Grande
do Sul, April 22, 1965. In the background to the
left is a grape arbor from which he earns his
32. Delegates to the Third Congress of the Frente Agrario
Gaucho (FAG), the Pontifical Catholic University,
Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, January 18, 1965 285
.xxv Â¡ i i
GLOSSARY OF ABBREVIATIONS FOR INTEREST
GROUPS, GOVERNMENT AGENCIES, AND
POLITICAL PARTIES IN BRAZIL
A9ao Popular Popular Action, a Catholic Action group of the 1960's.
ARENA National Renovating Alliance or Alian9a Renovadora Nacional
Note-The pro-government political party organized from the
top down in late 1965 out of members from the previously
existing political parties which were abolished by Institu
tional Act No. 2 of October 2, 1965. See MDB also.
CLT The Consolidated Work Laws or Consolida9ao das Leis do Trabalho,
promulgated by the government of Getulio Vargas as Decree-law
5,452 of May 1, 1943, which is still the basic labor code or law
CRB Brazilian Rural Confederation or Confedera9ao Rural Brasileira,
the organization at the apex of the pyramid of rural landowner
groups in Brazil; below it are the Rural Federations (Federacoes
Rurais) of the individual states which consist of the Rural As
sociations in one or more Municipios.
CONTAG The Confederation of Agricultural Workers or Confedera9ao
de Trabalhadores na Agricultura, formed December 1963
DRT Regional Labor Delegate or Delegacy; the DRT is the Chief Re
presentative of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare in
each State or a group of States.
FAG Gaucho Agrarian Front or Frente Agraria Gaucho; the interest
group sponsored by Catholic church leaders in Rio Grande do
FARBA The Rural Federation of the state of Bahia.
FARESP The Rural Federatio of Sao Paulo
FARSUP The Rural Federation of Rio Grande do Sul
IAA The Sugar and Alcohol Institute or Instituto do A9ucar e Alcool,
a government autarchy or agency designed to regulate the production
and sale of sugar and alcoholic products produced from sugar.
I BRA The Brazilian Institute of Agrarian Reform or Instituto Bra-
si leiro de Reforma Agraria, organized from the SUPRA and several
other agrarian reform and development agencies in 1964.
xx 1 x
IGRA The Gaucho Agrarian Reform Institute or Instituto Gaucho de
Reforma Agraria, established in I960 by the state government
of Rio Grande do Sul.
IRGA The Rice Growers Association of Rio Grande do Sul or Instituto
Rio Grandense de Arroz, a producers interest group.
JAC Catholic Rural (Agrarian) Youth or Juventude Agraria Catlica,
the arm of Catholic Action among rural youth.
JUC Catholic University Youth, the arm of Catholic Action among
MASTER Movement of Landless Agricultural Laborers or Movimento dos
Agricultores Sem Terra in Rio Grande do Sul.
MDB Brazilian Democratic Movement or Movimento Democrtico Brasileiro,
the opposition political party formed in late 1965 when
previously existing political parties were abolished.
MRT Movimento Trabalhista Renovador. Renovating Workers Movement or
Movimento Trabalhista Renovador, the political party founded by
Fernando Ferrari of Rio Grande do Sul, when he broke with PTB
leader Joao Belchor Goulart.
MTR Movimento Tiradente Revolucionario. Revolutionary Tiradente
Movement or Movimento Tiradentes Revolucionario, an urban polit
ical movement founded by Francisco Juliao in 1961.
MEB Basic Education Movement or Movimento de Educacao de Base, a
Catholic Church-sponsored and Brazilian Government financed
organization involved in literacy campaigns and leadership
MTPS The Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare.
PCB The Brazilian Communist Party which split in late 1961, over the
Sino-Soviet dispute and the Cuban Revolution. This group is pro-
Moscow and led by Luiz Carlos Prestes, a man with considerable
prestige due his leadership of the famous insurrectionary
"Prestes Column" in the interior of Brazil in the 1920's after
he and a group of fellow junior officers (tenentes) attempted
a coup d'tat.
PCdoB The Communist Party of Brazil, the Peking-oriented faction of
the Communist Party led by Joao Amazonas, Pedro Pomar, and Mau
ricio Gabrois, all of whom had been downgraded for being
"Stalinists" after the Twentieth Congress of the Russian Com
PDC Christian Democratic Partyof minor importance nationally but
important in several states, including Sao Paulo, Paran, and
Rio Grande do Sul.
PR The Republican Party, an unimportant minor party with an electoral
apparatus "for rent."
PRP Party of Popular Representation, a far-right party of some
importance because of its ideological coherence.
PSB Brazilian Socialist Party or Partido Socialista Brasileiro, a
minor party which had its roots in the UDN and PTB but was
persona 1 istic and interested in patronage, not ideological co
herence and discipline.
PSD Social Democratic Party or Partido Social Democrtico, one of
Brazil's three major parties from 19^+5 to 1965, created out of
a coalition of traditional rural oligarchs, state-machine
politicians, bureaucrats from the Estado Novo period, and a
smattering of industrial nouveaux riches.
PTB Brazilian Labor Party, or Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro, one
of Brazil's three major parties, 1945-1965, based on a coali
tion of Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare bureaucrats,
middle-class trade union leaders, large ranchers from the
South such as Joao Goulart and Leonel Brizla, and sugar
interests in the Northeast and Sao Paulo, represented by people
like Jos Ermirio de Moris.
SRB Brazilian Rural Society or Sociedade Rural Brasileira, a civil
association which aggregates Brazil's largest landowners,
important coffee and cotton exporters, and livestock producers.
It does not have any constituent bodies in the several states
or municipios. Its headquarters is Sao Paulo.
SUDENE The Northeast Development Agency or Superintendencia do
Desenvolvi ment do Nordeste.
SUPRA The Superintendency of Agrarian Reform or Superintendencia de
Reforma Agraria, organized in 1963 out of the National Insti
tute for Immigration and Colonization (IN1C), the Rural Social
Service (SSR) and several other previously existing rural
development or welfare agencies. It was re-organized into the
I BRA in 1964 after the April 1964 change of government.
UBES The Brazilian Secondary Student Union or Uniao Brasileira de
Estudantes Secondarias, the organization at the apex of the
puramid of secondary student organizations.
ULTAB The Brazilian Union of Agricultural Laborers and Workers or
Uniao dos Lavradores e Traba 1hadores Agricolas do Brasil, a
PCB-dominated organization of peasants, functioning principally
in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo states from 195^+ to April 1964,
It is now defunct.
UDN National Democratic Union, one of Brazil's three major parties,
1945-1965, originally an anti-Vargas "united front" of urban
middle class, professionals, banking interests, moralists, intel
lectual liberals and moderates, and a part of the traditional
agricultural interests in the North and Northeast. It also had
some clergymen and labor leaders in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
UNE National Student Union or Uniao Nacional de Estudantes, the apex
organization of the pyramid of Brazilian University students,
composed of representatives of State Federations or Unions,
which, in turn, were made up of representatives in each School
or College (Faculdade) forming part of a University.
xxx i i
GLOSSARY OF FOREIGN TERMS AND PHRASES
(The definitions and explanations given are those which have a direct
relation to matters treated in the text. Some of the words and phrases
have other connotations as well, but no attempt has been made to in
clude them. If a word does not have a general public meaning, the
definition used is from a glossary of terms given in Smith, Brazi 1 .
Agregado--in colonial times a free man of low social status who placed
himself under the protection of the master of the casa grande or
the mansion that formed the seat of a large estate, thus becoming
one of his "men" or retainers; used now in parts of Brazil as a
designation for an agricultural laborer who lives on the estate
(see Engenho, Fazenda, and Usina).
Agrestethe name used in northeastern Brazil to designate the zone
which lies between the well-watered coastal plain (mata or varzea)
and the semi-arid interior (sertao or backlands); much of it is
hilly, rocky, and covered by scattered, scrubby timber or spiny
vegetation known as catinga.
Associa^aoassociation, the name used for various organized groups,
who may or may not be formally inscribed in the Civil Registry
in accordance with Brazilian Law which prescribes such registra
tion in order for a group to be recognized by public officials.
cabocloname first applied to domesticated Indians, later used to
designate a crossbreed of white-lndian stock, and now generally
used to mean any lower-class rural person, often with connota
tions of ignorance such as "hay seed" or "hillbilly." (see caipira)
cacha9a--a low-grade rum made from the juice of sugar cane or molasses.
caipirathe man or woman who lives outside of an urban community, who
lacks education or social graces, who does not dress well or present
a good appearance in public. It is a widely used term for lower
class, rural Brazilians along with caboclo.
CamaraCouncil or Chamber, generally used to describe the legislative
council in the municipio made up of vereadores, councilmen; also
used to describe Chamber of Commerce (Camara de Comercio).
cambao--the obligation imposed on sharecroppers, tenants, and resident
workers (moradores) to work gratuitously or at lower than the
normal wage one or more days per week, or per month, in order to
cultivate a plot of land for oneself; it may also allow an
individual and his family to occupy a dwelling on the plot of
land. It is a term used mostly in the Northeast.
campanhathe name used in southern Brazil to designate the plains of
Rio Grande do Sul, running from the Atlantic Ocean into Uruguay
and Argentina. It is principally a region of cattle ranches and
rice plantations near rivers.
camponespeasant, a rural inhabitant, generally with connotations of
capanga-cangaceiro--terms used for the bad men or bandits of the North
east; it is also used for hired guard or gunmen who have been hired
for the purpose of intimidating or killing one or more people.
casa grandethe big house or mansion that forms the seat of a large
landed estate (see engenho, fazenda, estancia, and usina). On very
old estates, there was also a senzala (slave quarters) and engenho.
coloniaa name used to describe a settlement of small farmers in South
Brazil, the workers' village on a fazenda in central Brazil, or the
region settled by small farmers in south Brazil.
colonoa small farmer in south Brazil; a laborer who obligates him
self to work on a one-year contract in the care and obligatory
harvest of a certain number of coffee trees or of a certain area
of cotton or of other crops such as sugar cane, rice, and beans
in Sao Paulo.
Coronelcolonel, a political boss in a municipio or region of a state;
it is often used synonymously for a large landowner who is active
in politics or who has political connections similar to the
Kentucky Colonel or Tennessee Major.
Cruzeirothe unit of exchange in Brazil.
Dorna religious honorific given generally to Bishops and Archbishops
of the Brazilian Catholic Church.
Dispositivothe name given to the military security arrangements
upon which any government depends.
engenhoan old-fashioned sugar mill; also used to designate the
entire sugar plantation.
erva-mate (yerba mate)--Ilex paraguariensis, the leaves of a tree of
low to medium height which grows in the south and from which
tea, sometimes called Paraguayan tea, is made.
Estado Novo--the new state" established by President Getulio Vargas
in 1937 and which was terminated in 19^5- It was modelled in
part on the Corporate State of Italy during the regime of Benito
xxx 1 v
estanciathe conrnon designation for the large cattle ranch of Rio
Grande do Sul or any large landed estate of that state, Uruguay,
and Argentina; similar in origins and social arrangements to the
fazenda or hacienda.
fazendaa large estate; the equivalent of hacienda in Mexico, Colom
bia, and Peru.
fazendeirothe owner-operator of a large landed estate.
feirapublic market; the weekly fair of a neighborhood or region
where people gather to buy, sell, and exchange goods, services,
animals, and entertainment.
foicethe hook or cutting blade attached to a long wooden handle and
generally used for cutting sugar cane or fruit from trees.
foreirosynonym for morador or resident worker on a landed estate
who generally has to pay foro (a type of rent or cambao) similar
to cambao or pay in kind for the privilege of cultivating or
working a piece of land.
fornecedorsugar-cane producers who lack milling facilities and must
sell their sugar cane to a sugar usina.
gauchoa native of Rio Grande do Sul.
hectarea metric measure equal to 10,000 square meters or 2.471
Imposto Sindical--the Union Tax imposed on all wage- and salary-
earners (established by the Estado Novo at one day's pay per
year) for supporting an officially arranged system of sindicatos,
federations and confederations.
Interventoi The chief executive of a state, municipio, government
agency or Sindicato appointed by the President as his direct
agent. During the Vargas period, all states were governed by
such appointees, although the appointee in Minas Gerais, an
exception, was known as "Governor."
Irmapa religious brother or clergyman belonging to an order.
jagunconame applied to the gunmen or the bad men of the Sertao
or backlands (see also capanga and cangaceiro).
latifundioa latifundium, or a large landed estate giving employment
to over 12 workers and much of which may not be farmed at present
levels of technology, often held for speculation or status, and
whose workers may be under-emp1oyed or unemployed significant
portions of time during the year.
ligas camponesaspeasant leagues, the peasant organizations general
ly associated with Francisco Juliao de Arruda de Paula of Pernam
buco but sometimes the title assumed by a traditional landowning
coronel for himself and his peasant following in the 1960-1964
period; originally it was given to the abortive attempt of the
Communist Party (PCB) to organize peasant groups in 1940-1945.
mata--the well-watered coastal plain of Northeast Brazil which is used
principally for growing sugar-cane; in Paraiba, it is called the
meieiroan agricultural laborer who receives one-half of the crop in
lieu of wages, or a farm tenant/sharecropper who pays one-half of
his product crop as rent. A sharecropper who paid one-third of
his product would be known as a terceiro.
mineiro--a native of Minas Gerais.
minifundioa farm of a size inadequate to give full, year-round em
ployment at present levels of technology and resources to two
people. Generally this writer considers thirty hectares (seventy-
two acres) or less as being the upper level of which a single head
of household would move from minifundio category to family-farm
status, although a small farm of twenty hectares which was well-
irrigated and close to a market center might give its owner a
reasonably good level of living.
moradoi a squatter who stops where he pleases and clears the land
in order to plant subsistence crops such as corn, beans, and
mandioca; also used in Northeast Brazil to designate a resident
worker who cultivates a plot of land in return for a share of
the product or a wage.
municipioan administrative subdivision of the state comparable to
the county in the United States which consists of a both urban
and rural areas. A city is the seat (sede) of the municipio.
Cities as such have no separate legal or political status as in
the United States. Its executive head is a Prefeito (prefect)
and its legislative body is a Camara de Vereadores (chamber of
counci 1 men).
nordestinoa native of northeastern Brazil.
opera'riosskilled workers, generally found in a factory but also
including such workers as railroad men.
"0 sistema""the system," a term not to be confused with the concepts
of general systems analysis used in the behavioral sciences, but
denoting the several elites which have dominated Brazilian polit
ical machinery during several successive governments and their
patterns of joint action to maintain control and preserve "social
peace" through heavy reliance on conciliation, paternalism, and
anticipation of the demands of new individuals or groups seek
ing admittance into the decision-making processes of various
levels of government.
panel inhathe kinship or informal social structure which generally
consists of a large landowner, a customs official, an insurance
man, a lawyer or two, businessmen, an accountant, a municipio
vereador, a state or federal deputy, and a banker with his
bank. Each one mutually needs the services of the others in order
to overcome various complications of the legal, political, or
economic "system" or "sub-system" in which they find themselves.
passeataa name used for a parade by which its organizer hopes to
impress political office- or power-holders and the general public
with his power-capabilities, be it in terms of worker, peasant,
or student followers, or any combination of people, trucks,
weapons, and so forth.
pau-a-piquea type of construction in which poles are place on end,
sometimes with reeds or other shrubber intertwined horizontally
and with adobe covering, used to make the walls of the poorest
huts, generally constructed by moradores or posseiros (squatters).
pelegoa name derived from the sheepskin used by cowboys and horse
men in south Brazil but which is generally used to describe cor
rupt sindicato or union leaders who are more dependent on the
government than on their own worker or laborer following for
their position and status.
populismoA term used in Latin America to describe a political
position which connotes an interest in and defense of the common
people, their sufferings, desires, and so forth, as opposed to
support of minority interests or oligarchies.
Prefeito--the administrative or executive head of a municipio whose
equivalent in the United States is Mayor and Prefect in France;
he is generally elected to the office although state governors
and the President may appoint them in special circumstances in
cluding intervention by the state or federal government.
rapadura--a brown sugar from which none of the molasses has been
extracted made by the old-fashioned sugar engenhos; equivalent
to the Spanish-american panela.
Reconcavo--designation for the fertile coastal region embracing most
of seventeen municipios surrounding the city of Salvador, Bahia.
relatorioreport or annual message of a government agency or office.
roÂ£aa small, burned-over patch of ground in the midst of a forest
or scrub land in which are planted subsistence crops such as
corn, beans, and mandioca.
secretariaa department in state government. For example, the
Secretaria de agricultura is the equivalent of department or
office of agriculture in a North American state government.
sedeseat, the city in which the government of a municipio is located.
senhor de engenhotraditionally, the aristocratic master of a sugar
plantation and the casa grande which forms its nucleus.
senzalathe slave quarters generally found on a large landed estate
in the past, often near the casa grande, and at the present time,
often furnishing the dwelling space for resident workers or
sertanejothe common man who lives in the sertao of northeast Brazil.
sertao--(plural, sertoes)the great northeastern interior, a semi-
arid area, covered with sparse, spiny vegetation, and sparsely
populated. Occasionally, it is cut by a temporary stream and
infrequently by a large river such as the Sao Francisco, which
provide water for a narrow band of farms along its edge. The
setting for Euclides da Cunha's great Brazilian classic Os
Sertoes, which has been translated into English as Rebel lion in
sindicatoan association of employers, workers, or professions which
performs interest group functions similar to a trade union or profes
sional association in the United States, e.g., American Farm
Bureau Federation, American Dairy Association, National Agricultural
Workers Union, United Automobile Workers, Fraternal Order of Police,
National Education Association, and American Medical Association.
Brazilian law, influenced by the Corporate State ideas of Italy
under Mussolini, limits these groups to one per occupation, branch
or endeavor, or category per municipio or group of municipios in a
region. Two or more sindicatos of employers or employees or
doctors, for example, cannot function in the same municipio.
Sindicatos form the lowest level of a pyramid-like officially
sponsored arrangement above which are found federations at the
state level and confederations at the national level. All of
these groups have to be officially approved or recognized by one
or more relevant Ministries of the Federal government in order
to function legally. Financially, this officially sponsored
arrangement of organizations is supported by the Imposto Sindical
although sindicatos may levy additional dues on their members.
sitiantea small farmer, the proprietor of a sitio or plot of land;
in Northeast Brazil, it is sometimes used to describe a squatter.
tarefatask; used widely as a measure of land or to describe the
obligatory amount of work to be performed by a rural laborer for
a given salary or wage.
trabalho--work or labor; the phrase, Trabalho e para cachorro e negro11
(Manual labor is for the dog and the Negro) describes traditional
upper- and middle-class Brazilian attitudes towards peasants or
anyone who works with his hands.
usinathe modern sugar refinery and plantation; in the Northeast, the
machinery of such a sugar refinery, however, may be forty years old.
varzeathe present flood plain of a river; in particular, it is used
to describe the low coastal plain of Paraiba in northeast Brazil.
xxx i x
Political Map of Brazil, showing places visited
in this study, 1964-1965
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AGRICULTURE AND AGRICULTURAL LABOR IN
ITS HISTORICAL, ECONOMIC, AND
SOCIAL SETTING IN BRAZIL
In Brazil, the institutions of government, by and large, have
been used to defend and advance the interests of an elite whose power
was based on the ownership of large amounts of land.' Beginning as
an essentially agricultural country, Brazil developed in the past
fifty years a mixed industrial and agricultural economy. As this
took place the upper class agricultural and professional elites
admitted industrialists and financial leaders into the decision
making process at the national level and a middle class came to
exert a strong influence in several states and many local governments
Among the writers who discuss the power of this landed elite
are Anyda Marchant, "Politics, Government and Law," in Brazi 1:
Portrait of Half a Continent. T. Lynn Smith and Alexander Marchant
(eds.) (New York: Dryden Press, 1951), pp. 359~362. James W. Rowe
"The 'Revolution1 and the 'System': Notes on Brazilian Politics,"
AUFS Reports. East Coast South America Series, Vol. XII, Nos. 3 5
(Brazil), esp. pp. 6-14 of Part I, "Seeds of the 'System.'"
See Robert Alexander's Chapters on Brazil in Labor Relations in
Argentina, Brazil, and Chile (New York: McGraw Hill, 1962); 0rqanized
Labor in Latin America (New York: The Free Press, 1965), and Prophets
of the Revolution (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1962); Frank
Bonilla, "A National Ideology for Development," in Expectant Peoples.
Nationalism and Development. K. H. Sil vert (ed.) (New York: Random
House, 1965), pp. 232-264; and Harry W. Hutchinson, "Cultural Change
in Brazil: An Analytical Model," Journal of Inter-American Studies
(July, 1964), pp. 303-313.
in the South.' The country has undergone a spectacular series of
changes in forma] governmental structures since the 1930's at the
national level from dictatorship to elected president, to parlia
mentary government, to an elected president once again, and then to
a quasi-dictatorship which utilizes the forms of democratic govern-
ment to mask military control.
Whatever the form of government, the low status agricultural
groups generally did not exercise any influence of power within
the political system. This was due to their lack of education, isola
tion from and poor communication with the centers of economic and
political influence and because the country's traditional system of
man-land relations put the peasant in a subordinate and dependent
situation. At the local level, peasant cooperatives have been important
for about forty-five years in the South where there was colonization
of several regions by small farmers or where conditions were such
that an "agricultural ladder" to provide upward mobility for peasant
For a consideration of the role of the middle class in Brazil,
see Charles Wagley, "The Brazilian Revolution: Social Change since
1930," in Social Change in Latin America, Richard Adams, et al. (eds.)
(New York: Vintage Books, Random House, I960), p. 223; L. C. Bressner
Pereira, "The Rise of the Middle Class and Middle Management in Brazil,"
in Revolution in Brazil, Politics and Society in a Developing Nation,
I rving Louis Horowitz (ed.) (New York: T! P. Dutton and Company, l"964) ,
pp. 232-242, and J. V. Freitas Marcondes, "Social Legislation in Brazil,"
in Brazil: Portrait of Half a Continent, T. Lynn Smith and Alexander
Marchant (eds) .
Kenneth F. Johnson, "Causal Factors in Latin American Political
Instabi1ity," Western Political Quarterly, XVII, No. 3 (September,
1964), pp. 432-4467 considers that the maldistribution of land owner
ship, entrepreneurial deficiencies, urbanization, and over-populat ion
contribute to this political instability but "do not necessarily tell
us when it can be expected to occur."
laborers to become members of a rural small proprietor middle class was
established. But their influence was a limited one.
During the 1950's, the low status agricultural population,
especially in the Northeast, finally began to be organized. To under
stand how this change came about and how new contenders for power
developed, claiming to represent the agricultural low-status groups,
it is necessary to review the following: the origins, myths, and
reality of the latifundio or large landed estate, the systematic
attempts to drain as much income and energy as possible from peasants,
the effects of nineteenth century immigrant colonization, and the
socio-economic changes and pressures in rural areas since the 1930's.
Origins of the Large Estate and Latifundio^
The systems of 1andownership and control established by the
Portuguese in Brazil represented a sharp break with the traditional
small-farm agricultural pattern of Portugal. From the beginning,
land was given in large grants called sesmaria or appropriated by
"adventurers from the lower and even the upper segments of the
nobility who migrated in order to restore depleted fortunes."
For the most part, ordinary citizens (homens do povo) or "plebeians"
came only in later years, after the discovery of gold and diamonds
The best treatments of the origins and effects of concentrated
landholding patterns in Brazil are T. Lynn Smith, Brazi 1 : People and
Institutions (rev. ed.; Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1963), pp. 245-246; and Inter-American Committee for Agri
cultural Development (CIDA), Land Tenure Conditions and Socio-Economic
Development of the Agricultural Sector, Brazil (Washington, D.C.:
Pan American Union, General Secretariat, Organization of American
States, 1966), passim.
Smith, op. cit.. p. 319, is paraphrased and quoted for this first
and the country's economic development made a place for small manufactur
ing and trading enterprises. In addition, as Oliveira Vianna points out
lands were granted only to persons who could convince the authorities
that they were from "good" families and had the slaves, finances and
other requisites to develop sugar plantations, mills, and cattle ranches
In no other Latin American country have such huge blocks of land been
owned by such a small group of people who dominated agriculture in
almost every part of the country, regardless of climate or major type
of land use. Many of the largest properties were acquired illegally
or fraudulently. Two major types of irregularities have continued to
the present time, not only in the old sugar or cacao regions of the
Northeast but also in the new frontier regions of Parana, Mato Grosso,
Gois, and the Federal District of Brasilia:
1. After federal or state agencies announce plans to colonize
"public lands," private individuals appear claiming title
to all or parts of this land, whereupon these newly discovered
"owners" are given a concession of land or their "private
title" is recognized and the land is purchased by the federal
or state government concerned. The Northeast Development
Agency (SUDENE) has been victimized frequently by this practice
as have the state governments of Rio de Janeiro and Rio Grande
2. Once public lands are settled and land values rise, speculators
on adjacent properties move their boundary lines or discover
that their "titles" cover part of or all of the cleared or
^Ibid., citing, Oliveira Vianna, "0 Povo Brasileiro e sua
Evoluijao," Recenseamento do Brasil, 1920, Vol I (Rio de Janeiro,
1922), pp. 284-285.
^Grciliano Ramos, Sao Bernardo (Seventh edition; Sao Paulo:
Livraria Martins Editora, 1961), pp. 41-50; and Jorge Amado, GabrieI a,
Clove and Cinnamon, trans. James L. Taylor and William L. Grossman
(Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Publications, Crest Book, 1964), pp. 68-
82, are two famous Brazilian novels which deal with, among other things,
the use of violence to acquire and protect land in Alagoas and Bahia,
cultivated lands. In many cases, the speculators used hired
gunmen to eject the colonist. This practice has taken place
frequently in the 19^0' s in Paran, Mato Grosso, Gois, and
the new Federal District of Brasilia.*
Throughout Brazil's history, many of Brazil's leading families
have obtained land in this fashion or fought off attempts by rivals to
acquire their land. Throughout Brazil's history, the names Albuquerque
de Barros, Bezerra, Cavalcanti, Mello, Maranho, Q.ueiroz, Lima, Coelho,
Wanderley, Monteiro, Oliveira, Pessoa, Bulhoes, Magalhaes, Cabral,
Campos, Borges, Lina, Coutinho, and Guimaraes appear over and over
again. Throughout Brazil's history, indigo, sugar, cotton, coffee,
cacao, lumber, and livestock have been produced for export on a large
scale in response to the demands of foreign markets.
In addition, two other points need emphasis: (l) the Catholic
Church never acquired the large amounts of land which have made it
famous elsewhere in Latin America,^ and (2) a system of small farms
or "shelter belt," protecting the plantations from the natives, as in
the case of the United States, never developed in the hinterland.^
Even before its independence in 1822, Brazil was a nation with
a high concentration of 1andownership, much unused land, a backward
agriculture, and "many poor families wandering from place to place,
following the favor and caprice of landowners and always lacking the
*CIDA, op. cit., pp. 15l6.
Smith, op. ci t. p. 322, points out that a royal letter of
February 23, 1711 stipulated that no "concessions of land in the
State of Brazil" shall pass "by any title to the dominion of Religions,"
quoting Joaquim da Silva Rocha, Historia da Colonizapao do Brasil, Vol.
(Rio de Janeiro, 1918 and 1919), p. l"5S. ~ 1
JSmith, op. cit. p. 320.
means of obtaining some ground on which they could make a permanent
establ i shment."'
There was little sub-division of the old concessions anywhere.
The proprietors of the interior surrounded themselves with a popula
tion of sharecropping tenants, renters, and squatters living in
"almost feudal" relationships to a few fazendei ros, "at whose nod they
are subservient and bowed, in order not to be ejected from their
miserable ranchos [thatched huts] where they live and from the ropa or
engenho where they work to gain their daily bread."
Except in the South, where a program of colonization was started
in the nineteenth century, Brazil entered the post World War II period
as a nation in which the landed estate with large amounts of unused
land or latifundia ruled supreme. Few changes appear to be occurring
in the size of Brazilian farms except in the very largest estates of
100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) or more which increased in number
from 37 in 1940 to 60 in 1950.^ The concentration of land in a
^Ibid.. p. 324, quoting a statement by Gonpalves Chaves in Ruy
Cirne Lima, Terras Devolutas (Porto Alegre, 1935) pp. 33~44.
Joao Cardoso de Menezes e Souza, Theses sobre Colonizagao no
Bras i 1 (Rio de Janeiro, 1875), p. 309, quoted in Smith, Brazi 1, p. 300.
^As noted in the Glossary of terms, estates generally over 500
hectares (1,200 acres) fall into this category.
^Smith, op. cit. pp. 338-337, indicates these large establish
ments were found as follows in 1950 in the following states: Acre (16)
Amazonas-Rio Branco (4); Para-Amapa (7); Bahia (3); Paran (2); Mato
Grosso-Guapore (16); Maranhao (l); Piaui (4), Santa Catarina (l), and
Unfortunately, the census does not indicate the names of the
owners of these tracts. In addition, Joao Goulart's acquisition of
many large tracts of land in several states while President was not a
significant departure from the traditional Brazilian phenomenon of
relatively small number of families is shown by the 1950 census in
which only 14.6 per cent of all farm establishments occupied 83.4
per cent of all the land in farms; conversely 85.4 per cent of all
farms establishmentsthose less than 100 hectares--occupied only
16.8 per cent of all the land in farms.^ (See Table 1.)
The importance of low wage agricultural labor in several states
with large amounts of unused land is seen in data on the distribution
of tractors and plows in ten states. The more advanced states of the
South have mechanized much of their agricultural regions in contrast
to the North and Northeast. (See Table 2.)
Although some subdivision of land through inheritance or tax
pressures is occurring in Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Rio Grande do
Sul, and the Northeast, it is important to remember:,'
individuals trying to buy up land in different municipios or states
for status, tax, or investment purposes.
^Not every source agrees that the maldistribution of land in
Brazil has had bad effects. W. H. Nicholls and Ruy Miller Paiva,
"The Structure and Productivity of Brazilian Agriculture," Journal
of Farm Economics, Vol. XLVII, No. 2 (May 1956), p. 361, affirm that
"Brazil owes a substantial debt to those large landowners who are
active in settling, developing and improving the nation's agricultural
resources." They argue that the higher labor productivity of the larger
farms is "probably a net social advantage so long as Brazil is so short
of adequate farm job opportunities." Of course, similar claims were
made by the supporters of the slave system in the United States as a
reason for maintaining the slaveowners' dominant position of power.
Cl DA, op. cit. p. 83, is among the sources which note that the
absence of or limitations of available statistics make it extremely
difficult to compare the productivity and levels of living possible
from a ten-hectare farm in a valley near Rio de Janeiro or S5o Paulo
with a latifundio of over 500 hectares or 12,000 acres in Rio Grande
do Sul or Minas Gerais. In any case, in this writer's opinion, the
absence and limitations of agricultural statistics are a reflection
of the satisfaction of the landed elite with the existing distribution
and productivity of land. 1
NUMBER AND AREA OF FARM ESTABLISHMENTS
ACCORDING TO SIZE 1950a
Size of Holding
Area of Establ
Less than 10
10 to 99
100 to 999
1 ,000 to 9,999
10,000 and more
aSource of data: Manuel Diegues Junior, Populaco e Propriedade da
Terra no Brasil (Washington, D. C. : Uniao Pan-
Americana, Secretaria Geral Organizado dos Estados
Americanos, 1959). P- 253.
DISTRIBUTION OF TRACTORS AND PLOWS ACCORDING TO
PRELIMINARY RESULTS, AGRICULTURAL CENSUS
SEPTEMBER 1, I960, SELECTED STATES3
Rio Grande do Norte
Rio de Janeiro
Rio Grande do Sul
aCompled from "Censo Agricola-1960, Resultados Preli mi naresRe
vista Brasileira dos Municipios (Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, Conselho Nacional
de Estatistica), Ano XVI (July-December, 1963), pp. 168-192, and Smith,
op. cit.. pp. 331 and 387.
k|n 1950, the Sixth Agricultural Census found 180 plows in Ma-
ranhao, an increase over the seventy-one found in 1940. The writer has
no information on the decline in number of plows unless the preliminary
statistics gathered by the 1960 Agricultural Census were inadequate.
The IBGE had not published data on Pernambuco, but the
writer thought it would be useful to present Smith's 1950 statistics
which show the low rate of mechanization in the Northeast, the reliance
on hoe culture, and dependence on fire or slash and burn agriculture in
dSmith, op. cit.. p. 331.
The mere subdivision of a large fazenda among the numerous progeny
of a deceased owner does not result automatically in the change
from a system of large-scale agricultural exploitation to a well-
rounded system of small farming. ... On the contrary, such a
manner of subdivision is likely merely to mean that each heir
receives insufficient land to enable him successfully to carry
on the type and scale of agricultural enterprises with which he
is familiar, to live in the manner that he feels is the right of
a member of his family and social class, and to carry on the type^
of rural life that he considers to be the mainstay of the nation.
Moreover, the lack of a system of primogeniture which keeps
property intact and passes it on to a single heir as in England or the
United States, makes it difficult for the many owners or donos of a
single property to agree on how it should be managed, much less
In the coastal sugar regions, the introduction of more modern
processes and of twentieth century machinery has reduced the status
of many senhores de enaenho to that of suppliers (fornecedores) of cane
to the sugar mills (usinas) who used their greater financial power to
buy up sugar, cotton, and coffee land in order to lessen their depend
ence upon the fornecedores. The giant sugar mill corporations, with
an absentee ownership, took over the land and many of the functions of
the former sugar landed aristocracy, which at least lived on the land
and maintained a paternalistic relation in many cases with its slaves
and free workers living on the estate.
In the twentieth century, the introduction of modern machinery
and processes has reduced the status of many senhores de eneenho in
'smith, op. cit.. p. 338. Italics mine.
^1 bid.. Smith notes on p. 3^1 that "it is not unusual to find
an estate whose ownership is vested in hundreds of persons represent
ing as many as five generations. And even this is not the extreme."
the coastal Northeast to that of suppliers (fornecedores) of cane to
the giant sugar mills (usinas)^ operated by absentee owners.^ The
usinas have used their greater financial power to take over much of
the land and social functions of this landed aristocracy which lived
on the land in many cases and maintained a paternalistic relationship
with its slaves or free workers.
The Mvth and Reality of the "Ideal-type" Fazenda
The most sympathetic description of the traditional Brazilian
estate known as the enaenho. fazenda. or estancia (as it was known
in the South) is that of Gilberto Freyre who called it the "most
stable type of civilization . found in Hispanic America." In
its ideal form, the fazenda was a large agricultural establishment
See Smith, op. cit.. pp. 306-308, for a description of this
process including quotations from A. P. Figueiredo, editor of the
Recife newspaper, 0 Proaresso. in 1846.
^Harry W. Hutchinson, Village and Plantation Life in North
eastern Brazi 1 (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1957), pp.
7-8, found "a maximum of family traditions and paternalism" in the
ownership and operation of many usinas in the Recftncavo region north
west of Salvador, Bahia.
The writer observed this process taking place in the municipios
of Guariba, Jaboticabal, and Jardinopolis, Sao Paulo, in visits to
regions northwest of the state capital of Sao Paulo on November 28-23,
See also CIDA, op. cit. pp. 518-519, which notes that over 46
per cent of the total sugar cane harvest in Pernambuco came from land
owned by the mills. Almost all of the remaining cane was raised by
2,870 who were contracted by nearby mills to process their cane. An
additional portion of sugar cane is still processed into rapadura
(brown sugar cakes) by ox-driven or bagasse-powered steam engines for
distribution to the inhabitants of the Sertao,
Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves (Abridged Edition),
trans. from the Portuguese by Samuel Putnam (New York: Alfred A.
Knopf, 1964), p. 7.
Figure 2.--A "temporary" one year old hut of squatters, Colonia Pindo-
rama, near Penedo, Alagoas, July 14, 1965-
Figure 3.A "traditional" sugar plantation between Maceio and Penedo,
Alagoas, July, 1965. On the left, a chapel; in the center,
the Casa Grande; on the right, the sugar mill; and scattered
about are other smaller buildings housing workers or livestock.
Figure 5.A "barracao" or "company store" operated by a Senhor de Engenho
on the dirt highway between Goiana and Tambe, Pernambuco.
Second from the left is Joao Jordao da Silva, Treasurer of the
Federation of Rural Workers of the State of Pernambuco, July 2,
Engenho Bento Velho, Municipio of Vitoria de Santo Antao, Per
nambuco, near the paved highway between Recife and Vitoria de
Santo Antao. Engenho Galileia is about one-half mile to the
right over a dirt road. An administrator manages Bento Velho
for Usina Bulhoes.
Figure 6.The homes of sugar plantation workers lining one of the roads
leading out of Ribeirao Preto, Pernambuco, July 19, 1965.
Figure 7.One of several barracks-style homes for the families of workers,
Engenho Gallo, District of Xexeu, Municipio of Agua Preta, Per
nambuco, July 10, 1965. The Engenho belongs to the family of
Senator Francisco Pessoa de Queiroz, also a major stockholder
in Jornal do Comercio, a radio station, and two television
inhabited by the owner, his family, and a number of more or less
fixed tenants or wage laborers who were allowed to cultivate a piece
of the land and repaid the owner in a variety of ways. The fazenda
A locality group; isolated, to a greater or a lesser degree from
similar groups by the bad roads, the lack of other means of com
munication and the sheer extension of the lands. Often such a
locality group had its own service-providing sector: a shop, a
school, a chapel, and in some cases even an incipient armed force.
In order to meet their own need for an adequate and dependable
supply of labor, latifundio and plantation owners often entered into
arrangements with nomadic squatters who were permitted to clear and
work land on the fringes of the latifundio as a means of substantiating
or extending the owner's control over a piece of ground. In their
everyday relationships with tenants, laborers, and squatters, the
plantation owners astutely adjusted the terms of employment or land
use to meet their own needs and to protect themselves against the rights
or claims of peasants against the land or against the landowner.
Peasants were deliberately kept disoriented so that they would not
threaten the existing land structure.
The Systematic Attempts to Drain as Much Income
and Energy as Possible from Peasants
Large monetary returns from inherited landed properties were and
still are possible because of the unlimited supplies of labor and land.
'Galjart, op. cit. pp. 4-5.
"Squatting" as a phenomenon is related to many of the politically
inspired reports of "invasions" of plantations, cattle ranches, and other
rural properties in the 19601sa phenomenon which is dealt with in
several later chapters.
This is because agriculture was extensive and not intensive. Many of
the latifundistas did not seek to increase the yield per acre but
sought to get by with as little managerial or capital investment as
possible. Their earnings were often channelled into commerce and
industry where the returns on cash investment have been traditionally
much higher than in agriculture.' In turn, savings or profits from
commercial and industrial enterprises--which improved the credit
position of the estate owner--would often be used to purchase new
land when it was available as a hedge against inflation and to improve
total farm returns, thus increasing their wealth and prestige.
The large landowners also received an income from peasants who
borrowed money, patronized landowner-owned stores, or sold their agri
cultural produce to the landowner. Peasants were considered good
borrowers, customers, and "sellers," because high interest rates, high
prices, and high rentals could be levied against them and they could
be forced to work off any debts they owed. Many estates have been so
large that a peasant could not buy such essentials as coffee, salt, or
'ciDA, op. cit., pp. 565_567, is an extensive discussion of the
"economic double life" of the large estates.
This writer discovered many large landowners in Rio Grande do
Sul, Sao Paulo, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande do Norte, who lamented the
lack of rural credit facilities and complained of the bureaucratic
"red tape" necessary for agricultural credit. On the other hand, the
writer found that these men generally did not invest agricultural
loans, whether from private or state banks and agencies in their
agricultural enterprises but in urban housing, commercial ventures, or
in short-term or long-range business ventures in South Brazil if they
were Northeastern landowner-merchants. In an interview July 9, 1965,
Cid Sampaio, sugar industrialist, landowner, and former Governor of
Pernambuco, asked this writer if Americans would invest in a local
agricultural enterprise if they could obtain higher rates of return
by investing funds in a business in other parts of the United States.1
clothing anywhere except in the stores (barracoes) operated by the land-
owners or their administrators. In other cases, landowners inhibited
their peasants from using nearby public markets (fei ras) by paying them
in script (vales) which could be redeemed only in the barracoes. The
vales shown below for 200 and 500 cruzeiros (lie and 27C respectively,
in July 1965) were issued to laborers on the Engenho Gallo, part of
the Santa Terezina Sugar Mill, Xexeu District, Municipio of Agua Preta,
Pernambuco,^ which belongs to the family of Senator and communications
media owner Francisco Pessoa de Queiroz.
A nossa Cm Matriz on filiis
ras at 0
g Je DUZENTOS
A nossa Casa Matriz on Filiis
Queiram for net e fie tn mercado-
rias at ofmlhrÂ¡de QUINHEN-
TOS CRUZfeiriOS'rfe nossa conta
Table 3 illustrates the prices of selected consumer goods in
representative stores in Pernambuco in July 1 9&5 when rural worker
salaries in the sugar zone ranged between 1,000 and 1,730 cruzeiros
per day (U.S.$ .55".90). Table 4 illustrates the effect of deductions
On July 10, 1965, this writer talked with nine male heads of
family in a group of 25 persons at the Engenho barracks in which these
people lived. Five could read and write their names; only one could
write anything more. Thirteen men and boys worked the previous week
for 1,100 cruzeiros (60^) per day if the tasks assigned were considered
fulfilled by the plantation administrator. Many individuals on the
Enaenho were paid only 550 cruzeiros (or approximately 30c) per day.
Senator Pessoa de Queiroz also owns the Nossa Senhora de Carmo
Sugar Mill in Amaraj i Municipio, two radio stations, a television
station, and is principal stockholder of two newspapers in Recife.
PRICES OF SELECTED CONSUMER GOODS IN REPRESENTATIVE
COMPANY STORES, PUBLIC MARKETS, AND A PEASANT
COOPERATIVE, PERNAMBUCO, JULY, 1965
de S. Antao
Kerosene (1 iter)
Soap (P & G style)
Source: Statistics gathered by the writer.
US$ 1.00 1,850-2,000 cruzeiros
DIFFERENCES IN WAGES PAID VARIOUS TYPES OF WORKERS AND
LEGAL MINIMUM WAGES, FOR SPECIFIED STATES, 1957
State Field Cutters
Difference between Legal Minimum
Wage and Actual Wage Paid3
Workers Cane Cutters
Cruzeiros Per Cruzeiros Per
Average Monthly Wage Less Rent to
Male Field (Hoe) Workers
Wage Paid Deduction Authorized
for Rent Deduct ?on
Cruzeiros Cruzeiros Per Per Cent
Rio Grande do Sul
Source: CIDA, Land Tenure Conditions, Brazil, p. 299.
aThe difference is computed from the lowest minimum legal wage prevailing in each State, hence
underestimates the true difference between legal and actual wages. Exchange rates went from 66-73
cruzeiros per U.S.$ 1.00 during the year. Using 70 cruzeiros per dollar as a basis, Pernambuco male
field hoe workers were averaging U.S.$ 18.00 per month in annual wages while rent of approximately
$12.10 per month was deducted from the authorized minimum wages they were to receive.
for rent and non-payment of minimum wages in eight different states
in 1957. This extra exploitation further irritated many peasants and
their leaders in the last decade when peasants began to organize
peasant sindicatos and cooperatives.
The Concentration of Property Ownership
and Political Activism in a Small
Number of Fami1 ies
The ownership and management of Brazilian business enterprises
has been dominated by family enterprises,' the philosophy of the
"robber baron," a paucity of real joint-stock companies, a heavy
degree of economic concentration,^ and a disproportionate amount of
industrial development in the state of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and
a few areas around the state capital of Prto Alegre, Belo Horizonte,
Salvador, and Recife.
'Alexander, Labor Relations, pp. 45-48.
^W. Paul Strassman, "The Industrialist," in Continuity and
Chance in Latin America. John J. Johnson (ed.) (Stanford: Stanford
University Press, 1964), p. 174.
Anthony Leeds, "Brazilian Careers and Social Structure: A
Case History and Model," in Contemporary Cultures and Societies of
Latin America, Dwight B. Heath and Richard N. Adams (eds.).(New York:
Random House, 1965), pp. 379401 describes the kinship and other
informal social links such as the cabide de emprego and panelinha found
in developing areas of Brazil.
Alexander, op. cit. pp. 48-50; Strassman, op. cit. pp. 168-174.
3Mauricio Vintras de Queiroz, "Os Grupos Econmicos no Brasil,"
Revista do Instituto de Ciencias Sociais da Universidade do Brasil
(July-December1962), pp. 157169; the state of Sao Paulo accounts for
over 65 per cent of Brazilian industrial production.
Rio Grande do Sul has developed a rather diversified industrial
base in many small landholding regions of the state.
John J. Johnson,"I ntroduction," in Johnson, op. cit., p. 52, and
Robert Alexander, op. cit., pp. 52-54.
To some extent, the reluctance of Luso-Brazi1ian families to save
and invest in industry accounts for the dominance of immigrant or first
generation ownership of industry in the southern states.
Native investment capital has historically reacted against
industrial development. Safer and less risky investments in land
or housing have been preferred. Large landholders seldom invested
in industry, other than those types which processed agricultural
crops, such as sugar, coffee, and cocoa. In Pernambuco, it was
discovered that at least 29 of 46 sugar mills functioning in 1965
were landowner family-operated corporations.
Moreover, unlike Sao Paulo and other modernizing areas of Latin
America where new industrial or business groups formed the bases of
new political groups,' the new business sectors of the Northeast
continue to be dominated by the old landowning elite. As a con
sequence, the "old traditional families" have monopolized the decision
making processes of these sub-systems. In Pernambuco, for example,
the 29 inter-related families controlling forty-six usinas each had
a family member or close relative in the State Assembly and the Federal
Congress in the 1960-1965 period. At the Municipio level, local
Prefeitos and/or Councils seldom opposed the large landowners in those
few instances in which these men did not belong to the kinship or
clientele structure of the us ineiro or fazendeiro.
'Merle Kling, "Toward a Theory of Power and Political Instability
in Latin America," Western Political Quarterly, Vol. IX, No. 1 (March
1966), pp. 33-34.
^The generous fiscal incentives offered by Article 34-18 of the
SUDENE law brought in approximately $200 million in private Brazilian funds
between 1961-1965, which will undoubtedly introduce new political
ideas and structures in time.
The Effects of 19th Century Colonization
In the nineteenth century, private companies and federal and
state governments attempted to establish communities of small independent
farmers in Pernambuco, Bahia, Sergipe, Sao Paulo, Paran, Santa Cata
rina, and Rio Grande do Sul.' Large properties were sub-divided,
families placed on farm plots, and aid and supervision extended in many
cases. In the Northeastern states, most of these projects failed. In
the South, more success was achieved and a new agricultural civilization
based on small farms was created in the thinly populated regions which
had produced hides, dried meat, and timber. As a result, the principal
regions of small family proprietors include:
1. The Colony (a colonia). a zone west and north of Porto
Alegre, and two municipios around Pelotas, in Rio Grande
2. The plateau west of Curitiba, Paran.
3. The Itajai and Tubarao Valleys of Santa Catarina.
4. Western Sao Paulo.
3. The so-called 'Triangulo Mineiro" of Southwest Hinas Gerais.
'Zempati Ando, Pioneirismo e Cooperativismo (Sab Paulo: Fundado
Escola de Sociologia e Poltica de Sao Paulo, 1961), is a good descrip
tion of the history of Japanese colonization in Brazil in general and
of the Japanese who formed the Cotia Cooperative in April, 1927, in
In the Municipio of Tambos, to the east of Porto Alegre, RGS, the
German colonists have undergone a process of degeneration (cabocliza
whereby their cultural level is much more akin to that of lower class
Luso-Brazi1ians of the Northeast. Writer's notes.
Carlos Alberto de Medina, "A Estrutura Agraria Brasileira:
Caractersticas e Tendencias," America Latina (January-March, 1964), pp.
7190, contains data on Espritu Santo, where several German colonies
These regions are significant not only in terms of a more diver
sified agriculture, increased production of foodstuffs and fibers for
processing into other products such as shoes and textiles, but also
for the creation of a rural and small town middle class which helped
bring about economic and political change.
The communities founded by German, Italian, Polish, Dutch, or
Japanese small farmers differ very much from the Luso-Brazi1ian com
munities described by Gilberto Freyre and others. The former are much
more articulate, integrated, capable, and willing to enter into joint
action on behalf of the community.' If one notes the existence of
tension in their relationships at election time these tensions have
little effect on other social relationships.^
In fact, many small farmers in the Colonia region around Caxias
do Sul northwest of Porto Alegre (in which average farm size is 18.7
hectares or 44.9 acres)-^ refer to themselves as "colonos" or "colonists"
in the nineteenth century degenerated within the lifetime of the col
onists; Ernst Wagemann, "A Colonizado AlemS no Estado do Espirito
Santo" (tradujo de Reginaldo Santana), IBGE-Rio de Janeiro, 1949.
'Emilio Wi1lems, "Brazi1," in The Positive Contributions by
Immigrants, A Symposium prepared for UNESCO by the International
Sociological Association and the International Economic Association
(Second Impression; Paris: UNESCO, I960), p. 134.
^CIDA, op. cit., pp. 546-547.
^Land distribution and farm sizes for the seven geographic regions
of Rio Grande do Sul may be found in Comissao Especial de Reforma Agra
ria, Bases e Diretrizes para Urn Programa Estadual de Reforma Agraria
(Porto Alegre: Instituto Gaucho de Reforma Agraria, 1963), Table II on
unnumbered page facing p. I I 3.
and not as peasants (camponeses) because of their relatively high
levels of well-being and status.'
In contrast to the absenteeism of the large landowners found
in much of Brazil, many writers have observed that the immigrants
in the small farm regions and their Brazilian-born offspring did
not acquire land only as an investment opportunity or as a source
of prestige (although there is a clear consciousness of the status
that ownership implies). Rather, land was "acquired fundamentally
and principally as a means of livelihood" by people who wanted to
remain associated with the neighborhood in which they grew up even
if this is not always possible for the younger members of a family
for whom the community may offer little or no employment because land
and job resources have become scarce.
A visitor to one of the areas inhabited by small farmers is
almost always surprised by the large number of voluntary cultural
groups and religious organizations which function there. The following,
Various small farmers with only 1520 hectares of land in the
geographic zones known as the Encosta Inferior Nordeste, Encosta Su
perior Nordeste, and Alto Uruguai, emphasized this fact to this
writer in his discussions with them in 1965.
The writer does not know if this self-concept of being a "co
lono" and not a "campones" has always existed in this region or if
the self-concept was developed as an outgrowth of the publicity given
the Peasant Leagues of the Northeast and a desire on the part of many
Gaucho small farmers not to associate themselves with the Juliao-
C1DA, op. cit., p. 547, discusses the problem of out-migration
in the Santa Cruz region of Rio Grande do Sul where 95 per cent of
farm properties are less than 100 hectares and the average farm size
is 65.9 hectares.
with their German, Portuguese, or Japanese names, were encountered
by this writer:'
Dramatic societies (Theatervereine), bowling clubs (kegelklubs or
clubes de boche), rifle clubs or hunting societies (Schutsenve-
reine or Clubes de Tiradores), Choral societies (Gesangvereine);
dance circles or dance halls (Tanskranschen or Saloes de dantas),
school societies (schulevereine or sociedades de padres), young
men's associations (seinendan or clubes de jovens), cooperatives
(cooperativas and among the Japanese, mutual-help associations
In April 1965 while staying at the combined rural school and
home of Ladyr Rech, President of the Gaucho Agrarian Front or FAG for
the Diocese of Caxias do Sul, this writer participated in the following
series of events on a Sunday:^
Attended the second of two morning masses in the village Church
of Fazenda Souza.
Attended a meeting of local small farmers to discuss contribu
tions to the Social Security Fund created by the Rural Worker
Statute but which the Federal Government was reluctant to
establish in effect, forcing government to act by making
deposits in local banks to the Social Security Fund of the
Rural Worker Statute.
Visited the stables and gardens of the Catholic Seminary for
Boys operated in the Village of Fazenda Souza.
Gave a lecture on the United States to about fifty boys who
attend the Seminary.
Attended a Soccer match between the Seminary Team and a team
from another village in the Municipio of Caxias do Sul.
Table 5 lists several types of voluntary associations by states
in Brazil for 1959. With the exception of Bahia, Minas Gerais, and
Ceara, voluntary-group activity is much higher per capita and per mu-
nicipio in the southern states where there was foreign colonization.
'Willems, op. cit p. 13^> also discusses this phenomenon.
On the other hand, the writer never found such a wide range of
activities in a Northeast village or town.
MEMBERSHIP IN VOLUNTARY ASSOCIATIONS, 1959
Art st i c
Re 1 igious
Groups Members Catholic Protestant
Rio Grande do Norte
Rio de Janeiro
TABLE 5 (cont.)
Art i st i c
Rio Grande do Sul
Source: Anuario Estatfstico, 1961. pp. 390, 391, 398, 400 and 413.
alncludes Academies of Letters, Writers' Associations, Scientific and Technical Groups.
Bahia's literary tradition undoubtedly contributes to the large number
of literary societies in that state, especially in the I 11heus-ltabuna
regions of which Jorge Amado has written. Minas Gerais and Ceara have
a long religious traditionthat of southern Ceara having been supported
by the many religious groups created by followers of Padre Cicero in
his memory.' The Rural Associations, the principal formally organized
pressure groups of large landowners in most Brazilian states, are
discussed in greater detail in Chapter III.
Since there was no public school system to speak of in the early
days of colonization in the nineteenth century, the German and
Italian immigrants organized their own schools, whose quality was
gradually improved through "summer school" teacher training courses
of the "People's UnioiV (Vol ksvere i n or Uniao Populai) in Novo Hamburgo,
Rio Grande do Sul, and other areas colonized by Germans, Italians,
Slavs, and Japanese. In addition, teachers frequently were sent to
Europe or Japan for additional training or brought over to teach from
the mother 1and--the local community paying all or a sizeable proportion
of their salaries and living expenses. The consequences of this
peasant interest in schools is reflected in the high level of literacy,
large number of small town newspapers, and large number of hospitals
in the South in 1959- (See Table 6.)
'Jos Fabio Barbosa da Silva, "Organizacao Social de Juazeiro
e Tensoes entre Litoral e Interior," Sociologia. Vol. XXIV, No. 3
(September, 1962), pp. 190-191.
Willems, op. cit.. pp. 13^137> discusses the impact of the
two World Wars, the differing values of Luso-Brazi1ian majorities,
and state and federal legislation designed to bring schools, co
operatives and religious and recreational associations under Brazilian
INDICATORS OF FUNCTIONAL LITERACY AND POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT
IN BRAZIL EXPRESSED IN NEWSPAPER CIRCULATION AND HOSPITAL
Da i 1v Newspapers
Total Capital Circulation
Public Private 1,000
Rio Grande do Norte
Rio de Janeiro
TABLE 6 (cont.)
Da i 1 v
Circulat i on
Rio Grande do Sul
Source: Compiled and
L. J 96.I ,, PP-
359, 367, 392,
Unions, p. 48.
alt is difficult to accept the accuracy of literacy statistics for the northern states and
territories of Acre, Amazonas, and Par, when only 0.06%, 0.6%, and 10% of the total populations
respectively of those states and territories attended school in I960. In short, educational
statistics outside of the southern states leave much to be desired. See Smith, Brazil pp. 4l and
496 for data on population and student enrollments.
Figure 8.The town house of a traditional cattle rancher (estanciero).
Pelotas, Rio Grande do Sul, February 27 1967.
Figure 9."From left to right: the rural school-and-home of Ladyr Rech,
President of the FAG Regional Department, a neighborhood
chapel, and a neighborhood or community recreation center
under construction, Fazenda Souza zone, District of Ana Rech,
Municipio of Caxias do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, February 7
Table 7 compares the population and school facilities of two
German-Brazi1ian municipios in Rio Grande do Sul (Santa Cruzwhich is a
commercial and industrial centerand Venancio Aires--which is
predominantly rural) with Jaboatoan industrial and sugar-producing
Luso-Brazi1ian municipio--outside of Recife, Pernambuco.
This table supports a subjective judgment that the school systems
in the small farm regions of Rio Grande do Sul are much larger for the
area and population than the school systems in Pernambuco; rural
children in Rio Grande do Sul appear to have a much greater chance
to go to school than do rural children in Pernambuco.
The Role of Immigrant Groups in Political Change
In Brazil, no politically organized body of immigrants or "polit
ical minorities" have ever actually competed for power with existing
parties.' European and Japanese immigrants who came to Brazil did
not establish political parties, programs, or ideologies as did
Italian immigrants to Argentina who helped found the Radical and
Socialist Parties in the late 1800 1 s. Nevertheless, historical
experience and the economic need for stability for those immigrants
engaged in agriculture, business, and industry taught these settlers
that revolutions and political unrest meant property confiscation,
destruction of crops and livestock, plunder, and bloodshed. The grow
ing participation and influence on the Brazilian-born population of
recent European extraction, particularly on the municipio and state
'The writer is referring to groups which would correspond to the
1rish-American, Slavic Democrat, or German Republican Clubs so pro
minent in the United States.
A COMPARISON OF SCHOOL FACILITIES, TEACHERS, AND DAILY
ATTENDANCE IN RIO GRANDE DO SUL MUNICIPIOS OF
SANTA CRUZ DO SUL AND VENANCIO AIRES WITH THE
PERNAMBUCO MUNICIPIO OF JABOATAO, SELECTED
Chi 1 dren 71
In School Not in
ava i 1able
Venancio Ai res
Sources: Laude lino T. Medeiros, Educa^ao na Area Rural de Santa Cruz do Sul, un-numbered, p. 69,
and Adelita Medeiros, "Santa Cruz do Sul" (Pamphlet), Colecao de Monografas, Series B,
No. 60, Diretoria de Documentado e Divulgado do CNE (Rio de Janeiro: IBGE, 1963);
Clecy de Campos Azevedo, Presidente, and Evaldo Joao Schenkel, Agente de Estadstica,
Relatorio, Censo Escolar 1964, Venancio Aires: Interview with former Prefeito of Ve
nancio Aires, Alfredo Scherer, April 25, 1965, and Diario Oficial (Recife, Pernambuco),
May 1, 1965, p. 3002.
level, has helped other Brazilians to change some of the traditional
political patterns. In particular, the political monopoly of the
old family oligarchies was destroyed and fraud and armed force are
rarely used in the South although still quite common in the Northeast.'
The Effects of Colonization on
One would presume that one indication of the assimilation of
recent groups into Brazilian society would be the appearance of non-
Luso or non-Portuguese names in the State Assemblies or the Federal
Congressespecially in view of the oft-repeated statement that
"Brazil is a racial democracy." However, when one examines the names
and background of legislators in the states of Pernambuco, Rio Grande
do Sul, and So Pauloone finds a differential treatment accorded
these groups. With one possible exception, the 83 State Deputies
Willems, op. cit. p. 139, notes that peasants of German, Italian,
and Polish origin established armed militias in the southern states
during the "revolutionary" campaigns of 1924-1925 which protected the
"colonia" of Rio Grande do Sul and other regions from the various
armed groups in the region, including those of Luis Carlos Prestes.
In recent years, the parades of "hunting" or "shooting" clubs to
celebrate the anniversaries of various communities are a reminder to
the communities themselves and to state and national leaders of the
capacity of these small farmers to defend themselves.
Gilberto Freyre has been the greatest exponent of this lyrical
view of the assimilation of many ethnic strains. See for example, his
"Perspective of Brazil," Atlantic Monthly (February, 1956). pp. 8-12,
in which he notes the case of Lauro Muller, born in Santa Catarina,
who "became one of the most astute and influential politicians in
Brazil" . "David Campista, the Brazilian son of a German Jew . .
who became the Minister of Finance."
A more cautious appraisal is rendered by Charles Wagley (ed.),
Race and Class in Rural Brazil (Paris: UNESCO, 1952), esp. pp. 78,
140-144, and 154-155.
^By and large, students of Brazilian politics, Brazilian or
foreign, have not made behavioral studies of the ethnic, occupational,
and 24 Federal Deputies from Pernambuco in 1962-1965 were of Luso-
Brazilian origins. On the other hand, a substantial proportion of
the state and federal deputies from Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paulo
were of non-Portuguese or non-Luso ancestry. The data are shown in
Table 8. Unfortunately, there is little occupational data to construct
a Table showing differences in the economic strata represented. Never
theless, one would be safe in presuming that the large number of small
farmers of German, Italian, and Japanese descent in the southern
states would have access to these state and federal deputies because
these deputies were elected on the basis of votes from smal1-farming
Moreover, the writer thinks a significantly different political
style is indicated by the fact that all Gaucho Municipio Councils
which this writer visited met weekly, in contrast to the Councils in
Pernambuco which seldom met more than four or five times a year in
1964-1965 with two exceptions. In three Gaucho municipiosCaxias
do Sul, Santana do Livramento, and Venancio Aires, the Council
frequently met twice a week to discuss municipio. state, and national
educational, and political backgrounds of council, deputies, senators,
and autonomous agency similar to that of David R. Matthews, U.S.
Senators and Their World (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina
Press, i960), or John R. Wahlke and Heinz Eulau (eds.), Lea is1 at ive
Behavior (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1959).
Although the West European and Japanese migration to the North
east has been small, the genetic contributions of Northwest Europeans
can be observed in the faces of the rural workers of Vitoria de Santo
Antao, Pernambuco, shown in Figure 20, p. 145.
NATIONAL ORIGINS OF MEMBERS OF STATE ASSEMBLIES
AND FEDERAL DEPUTIES, SELECTED BRAZILIAN STATES
1963-1965, COMPARED TO IMMIGRATION TO
BRAZIL, 1884-1957 (PERCENTAGES)a
aNational origins of members of the State Assemblies were determined
from voting lists and other data obtained by the writer in the Electoral
Tribunals of each state in 1965.
dSmith, Brazi 1, p. 126. Unfortunately, there are no statistics on
the foreign immigration to each state.
c0ne of these Deputies, Diogenese Gabriel Wanderley, is the scion of
a wealthy landowning family whose Dutch ancestors married into Pernambuco
families during the brief period of the Dutch conquest. The other non-
Luso name represented was that of Aureo Howard Bradley, whose family
origins are not known.
dThis 0.8% is derived from the 37,439 Syrian and Lebanese immigrants
who have gone to Brazil. Several thousand other immigrants have come from
Iran, Iraq, and Egypt, but precise figures are not available and it is
necessary to recognizethat border changes in the Middle East in the past
eighty years make the task of assigning national origins more difficult.
eThis 28.9% of the immigrant population is made up of persons from
more than thirty countries, the largest contribution being 657,744
persons from Spain or 13.8 per cent.
A Model of Differential Output of Funds for
Medical Facilities and Land Distribution
In order to determine if there might be a correlation between the
distribution of property in a state and the allocation of public funds
for a public purpose, this writer combined available data on land
distribution by municipios with data for the numbers and types of
medical facilities in Rio Grande do Sul to make Map in.Fig. 10. An examin
tion will show that municipios with 95 per cent or more farm hold
ings less than 100 hectares (247 acres) have significantly higher
quantities of health facilities than the Campanha zone along the
Uruguayan frontier in which 15 per cent or less of farm holdings are
less than 100 hectares. In fact, the three geographic zones with
small farm holdings had more hospital beds in I960 (9,116) than each
of the states of the North, Northeast, East, and Central West, except
for Pernambuco, Bahia, and Espirito Santo--which would also lag behind
if it were not for the hospital facilities in their state capitals.'
If one compares the state and municipal government structure of
Rio Grande do Sul and Sao Paulo with Pernambuco, one not only finds
greater outlays for education and health services, but also govern
ments which have formally created Departments of Labor and Cooperative
1 Based on a comparison of the totals listed on Fig. 10 with data
appearing in Anurio Estatlstico, 1961, pp. 302-303.
Only one municipio with 95 per cent or more of its properties
less than 100 hectaresCandelaria to the west of Santa Cruz do Sul
had a strong politician who dominated politics in recent years. In
Candelaria, "Coronel" Albino Lenz, named first Intendente by Governor
Getulio Vargas in 1925, won re-election for the third time on the
ticket of the PSD on October 7, 1962. In this municipio, the south
west portion covers part of the Central Depression plain and is made
up of a few very large cattle ranches and rice plantations.
Figure 10.Widespread property distribution (95 per cent or more of farm properties are less
than 100 hectares) leads to a greater distribution of medical and public health
facilities, Rio Grande do Sul, I960.
The shaded municipios have 84 or 142 medical centers (54 per cent); 222 of 364 hospitals (60 per
cent); and 9,116 of 26,614 hospital beds (34 per cent) in the state. Porto Alegre, the state
capital, has 25 hospitals (6 per cent) and 8,664 hospital beds (30 per cent). The large landed
property municipios of the state have 46 per cent of the medical centers, 34 per cent of the
hospitals, and 34 per cent of the hospital beds.
Source: Com!ssao Especial, Bases e Diretrizes para Urn Programa Estadual de Reforma Agraria.
pp. 111-7 to 111-9.
Development Agencies within the state governmentfrequently headed
by persons of non-Luso origin. In 1965 for example, Benedito Ma-
tarazo, son of the Italian immigrant who built up one of South
America's largest industrial empires, succeeded Antonio Morimoto,
son of a Japanese immigrant farmer as Secretary of Labor in Sao
Paulo. In Pernambuco, on the other hand, although Miguel Arraes
(1962-1964) was the first Governor to assign an Assistant Secretary
to keep him informed about labor-management problems, no formal state
office with responsibility for matters dealing with urban or rural
workers exists in this or any Northeast state.
Socio-Economic Pressures and Changes since the 1930's
Until recently, a majority of Brazil's population was made up of
peasants who worked the land in a variety of land tenure and labor-
management systems ranging from "squatting" to highly productive
family and commercial farms similar to those encountered in Northwest
Europe, the United States, or Japan. In the past, there were advantages
for a peasant who lived on a fazenda rather than in a neighboring vil
lage or town in terms of his opportunity to win the confidence of an
influential landowner and thus rise on the social scale. But this
ideal-type relationship was not always ideal nor was it a relation
ship based on law.'
'This writer interviewed several peasant sindi cato leaders in
Pernambuco who previously had been administrators but allegedly were
fired for transmitting complaints from tenants or day laborers to the
plantation owner. If a fazendeiro lost a court case over non-observance
of minimum wage or social welfare legislation, his administrator was
seldom penalized--after all, he was only doing his job as the fazen-
de? ro perceived it.
Since 1930, when Getlio Vargas came to power, a series of changes
have taken place which may be summarized as follows:
1. Many landowners have left the fazendas and estancias for
nearby towns, the state capitals, and the big cities, leaving admin
istrators in charge of the land or their small agricultural processing
operations. The administrators are peasants themselves, psycholo
gically unequipped to assume the protective roles of the owners, and
have only a limited power to make decisions which cost money.
2. The increasing industrialization of many parts of the country,
bringing about higher wage levels in factory areas plus the establish
ment of labor and welfare legislation, which were resisted by the land-
owners, attracted many peasants away from rural areas. Seasonal and
permanent migration to the industrial or harvesting areas in other
parts of the country was often encouraged by the landowners or ad
ministrators who did not want the burdens of under-employed tenants;'
this further weakened the traditional paternalistic bonds between the
peasants and the landowners who may spend a "rustic weekend"at the
old Casa Grande but whose families no longer want to live there full
3. Putting workers on a straight-wage basis meant a change in
their spatial distribution. From being spread over the plantation,
they were agglomerated in hamlet-like settlements alongside the roads.
'in the Northeast, a great amount of sugar cane is harvested by
migratory workers from the Sertao; in Rio Grande do Sul, rice is
harvested by unemployed cowboys dismissed from cattle or sheep round
ups or wool-shearing jobs or migratory sharecroppers from densely
populated parts of the state. Unfortunately, statistical data is
unavailable on this phenomenon which has its counter-parts in the
This, as Furtado remarks, made for easier communication among them,
for the rapid spread of ideas and what has come to be called the
"revolution of rising expectations."'
4. The individualism of landowners inhibited the formation of
cooperatives or regulatory groups to benefit all producers and not just
the financially strongest.
5. Although farm prices rose much more slowly in recent years
than the index of consumer prices for agricultural products, many
producers are also middlemen and earn an important part of their income
as merchants. Insistence on a flexible minimum-price policy for
producers would force landowners who are also middlemen to pay increased
prices for agricultural products to other landowners, something which
they are not yet willing to do, in part because this would reduce their
profit margins and, in part also, because it would affect their ability
to compete in foreign markets with other overseas suppliers of the
6. Landowners, under the influence of the Corporate State ideas
propagated by Vargas, organized themselves into pyramid structures
of Rural Associations, Federations, and Confederations which were to
See Juarez R. B. Lopes, "Some Basic Developments in Brazilian
Politics and Society," in New Perspectives of Brazil. Eric N. Bakla-
noff (ed.) (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1966), pp. 68-
75, for an excellent discussion of the "progressive dissolution of the
Galjart, op.cit., p. 11, citing Julian M. Chacel Pregos e
Custos Na Agricultura Brasileira (Mimeographed) (Rio de Janeiro:
Centro Latino Americano de Pesquisas em Ciencias Sociai^, pp. 34.
A Rural, journal of the Brazilian Rural Society or SRB, Sao Paulo,
June, 1964, pp. 34-36, contains advertisements for warehouse and export
firms in Santos and Sao Paulo whose owners are also substantial land-
owners and SRB officers.
work with a series of autarchies or insti tutos. similar to the Com
modity Credit Corporation in the United States, in an attempt to ease
the problems of excess supply and inadequate consumption of sugar, rice,
peanuts, wheat, cotton, beans, and yerba mate.' The Institutes which
exist outside the regular channels of the Ministries and Departments,
are headed by boards or cabinets of government and producer represen
tatives, and are often financed by a tax on these products or a
7. While the institutes promised to buy crops at a fixed minimum
price or to finance the harvest or marketing of crops, the minimum
prices have been subjected to manipulation by powerful commercial
groups--which some landowners belong toand by uncontrolled inflation.
Moreover, in some cases such as sugar, if the Institutes do not pay
upon delivery, the sugar mills may pay the independent plantation sup
pliers (fornecedores) only after the expenses of the mills have been
paid. Independent planters therefore find it difficult to remain
Phyllis Peterson, "Brazil, Institutionalized Confusion," in
Political Systems of Latin America. Martin Needier (ed.) (Princeton:
D. Van Nostrand Company, 1964), pp. 492-493.
La Palombara, op, cit.. pp. 252-348, offers parallel clientela
and parentela relationships for Italian bureaucrats and agricultural-
industrial interest groups.
^In Florida, for example, the Governor appoints a Citrus Com
mission made up of members who represent various facets of the
industry to regulate its marketing and quality standards, contract
advertising, inter alia, whose work is supported by a tax on each
crate of citrus shipped out of the state.
^Interviews with Francisco FalcSo and Benjamin de Moraes Ca
valcanti, and meetings of the Sociedade Auxiliadora da Agricultura
de Pernambuco and the Associa
August 9 1965.
financially independent unless they have commercial or banking links
through an informal panelinha or kinship network.'
In the face of these pressures, many landowners have reacted
violently to demands for improved arrangements from their peasant
tenants, employees, or the allies of peasant groups.
Given this violence, it is necessary to examine in the next
chapter the political and institutional structures in which land-
owner pressure groups function and in which peasant pressure groups
and their allies were to develop.
'See Leeds, op. cit., pp. 383384, and 393~401, for a theoretical
model of the panelinhas which generally consist of one or more land-
owners, a customs official, an insurance man, a lawyer or two, business
men, an accountant, a municipio vereador. state or federal deputy, a
banker, and hopefully, a middle- or upper level official in one of the
Institutos regulating the marketing of an agricultural crop produced in
CHAPTER I I
THE POLITICAL SYSTEM WITHIN WHICH
RURAL PRESSURE GROUPS FUNCTION
As noted in Chapter I, Brazilian elites have developed a "system"
of conciliation and paternalism that persisted even with the introduc-
tion of the federal principle of government because disciplined polit
ical parties with a continuing commitment to principles or ideology
never developed.' Because the parties did not aggregate interests,
many strong interest groups financed candidates for office who were
friendly to their interest in the National Congress, State Assemblies,
and the agricultural Institutes whose principal task was to obtain
subsidies and protection for these groups.
Brazil never had a tradition of liberalism in the Lockean or
Spencerian/Darwinian sense. Even when the governmental machinery
was weak, the state pursued an "interventionist" or mercantilist tradi
tion in economic matters, uninhibited by laissez faire dogma. In James
^Theodore Wyckoff, "Brazilian Political Parties," South Atlantic
Quarter 1v. Vol. LVI (June, 1957) pp. 281-298; Peterson, op. cit.. pp.
463-509; Themistocles Cavalcanti and Reisky Dubnic, Comportamento
Eleitoral no Bras i 1 (Rio de Janeiro: FundacSo Getlio Vargas, 1964).
^Peterson, op. cit.. p. 493; William W. Pierson and Federico G.
Gil, Governments of Latin America (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1957),
S. Rowe's words, "the characteristic tendency of private interests in
Brazil has not been to resist the state but to seek its favors."'
Getlio Vargas linked old and contemporary Brazil through his
ability to conciliate the growing industrial interests without a major
struggle with the landowners, while at the same time accommodating the
new urban labor force and not having a major confrontation with
industry. In Rowe's words,
These accommodations, accomplished without political parties or the
free social process involving autonomous interest groups, depended
on the state's role, not as a mere arbiter, but as an active
participant in the affairs of each class. Paternalism was
ingeniously transplanted from the countryside to urban, middle-
class, and industrial activities . The swelling ranks of
urban labor were presented with a ready-made union organization,
copied from Italian Corporate State legislation of 1926 which
was created and controlled by the Ministry of Labor. Organiza
tionally weak but financially powerful by virtue of a mandatory
union tax levied on all workers, the unions did not serve as col
lective bargaining agents but as social welfare agencies, brokers
in the patron-client relationship established between government
In the post 1945 period, a formal structure of representative
democracy was revived and improved to some extent but nothing was
done to modify the social structure or the balance between agricultural
Rowe, "The 'Revolution' and the 'System,'" Part I, p. 8.
Alexander, Labor Relations in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile,
pp. 43-44 blames the lack of a sense of social responsibility among
the population on attitudes inherited from the past of a paternal
istic large-landholding system; Vargas governed Brazil as if it were
one big plantation and blocked social reform and change as much as he
stimulated it through economic development.
Marvin Harris, Town and Country in Brazil (New York: Columbia
University Press, 1956) notes the population of Minas Velhas, in
Bahia, looked upon the Federal or State governments as a "Boss of
super proportions" whose task is "to give a push for progress" (0.
Governo tern Que dar impulse) rather than local government assisting
local agriculture and industry, health, and education.
Rowe, "The 'Revolution' and the 'System,'" Part II, pp. 3"4.
and industrial interests. Key features of the "system" remained intact.
Among the most important was the [Consolidated Work Laws or CLT of
1943]. It provided not only a code of working conditions similar
to that found in industrializing countries eight-hour day, minimum
wage . and social security institutes for several categories
of workers, but also . .a parallel structure of employer and
employee organizationsa pyramid rising from sindicatos [unions
or associations] at the local level and state federations to an
apex of national confederations, all linked to the Ministry of
Although the presidency of Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira
(1956-1960) was characterized by an industrial expansion and economic
growth that temporarily obscured reliance on the "system's" impedi
ments to rational modernization, no basic re-arrangements of political
forces or unsettling ventures into agrarian reform or widespread
public education were undertaken. In order to gain support for his
Brasilia project, Kubitschek coddled industry in the South and of
fered a new development agency, SUDENE, to the Northeast, originally
viewed by many politicians and observers as little more than a vast
new gravy train of public works for private individuals to supplement
the contruction projects of DNOCS. In implementing his development
program, Kubitschek preferred to work outside the regular bureaucracy
and party channels, creating new autarchies and administrative agencies
thus avoiding the immobilism of the "system" without confronting it.
^Rowe, op. cit., pp. 4-5.
For example, Article 166 of the 1946 Constitution indicates
"primary schooling is obligatory and shall be administered only in
the national language ... is free to all; the official schooling
beyond primary schooling, shall be free to whoever proves lack or in
sufficiency of means."
^Robock, Brazil's Developing Northeast, is probably the best
surce of information on the origins and history of these agencies.
^owe, op. ci t. p. 12.
Following the spectacular resignation of his successor, Janio
de Silva Quadros, in August, 1961, the eventual assumption of the
Presidency by Jo3o Belchior Marques Goulart ushered in a period of
recurrent crises and conspiracies which lasted until the April Revolu
tion of 1964. There was much talk and some legislation and presiden
tial decrees, yet the problems inherited from previous regimes in
flation, wage demands, agrarian pressures, commitments assumed under
the Alliance for Progress and trade deficits--were greater than
before. The "system" came under serious and sustained pressure both
from internal contradictions and external attack by various groups.
On the left especially, several radical student movements, Castro
supporters, the PCB and PC do B factions of the Communist Party, and
independent nationalist revolutionaries altered their subordinate
relationships with Goulart's Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) which had
been part of the "system." While each had tried to use the other for
its own ends prior to Goulart's assumption of the presidency, these
militants increased their bargaining power almost to that of an
"equal" whether "inside" the "system" as PTB Labor Ministry bureau
crats or "outside" through the defiant organization of strikes and
disorders which Goulart did not want.' At the same time, various
radical and moderate reformist peasant groups began to act independently
of Goulart and the "system."
In examining the political system and sub-systems in which land-
owner interest groups function and in which peasant pressure groups
'Rowe, op. cit.. pp. 14-15.
were to develop, it is necessary to examine the following in greater
detail to supplement what has already been said above: (1) the
traditional politics of the municipios, (2) the effect of the federal
structure on decision-making; (3) the structure and functions of the
Ministry of Labor, and (4) the nature of rural labor legislation.
The Traditional Politics of the Rural Municipio
Locally the municipio corresponds to the county in the United
States but, unlike the county in the United States, the Brazilian
county seat (sede) and other cities within a municipio, have no
separate corporate existence. Political life, prior to the assump
tion of power by Vargas in 1930, was based on a series of alliances
and conflicts between big landowners, each with his following of
peasants, laborers, and cowboys who frequently voted irrespective of
ideology, programs, or laws restricting the voting to those who could
read and write.' Occasionally, a few families came to dominate a
state so thoroughly that their influence lingers on today.
Relations between the government and the local political boss
(chefe polftico) were based on compromise. if the boss supported the
Smith, op. cit., pp. 569582, and B1ondel, op. ci t., pp. 5772,
discuss the bases of these alliance and enmities on kinship clans, real
or imagined affronts, and competition for power and land. Blondel, pp.
73-100, discusses the differing techniques used to register illiterate
voters, electoral fraud, and election costs to chefes polft I cos in the
"A Campanha Eleitoral de 1958 no Piau," Revista Brasileira de
Estudos Pol t i cos, No. (April, 1 960) pp. 3 3 3 4, points out all Ejt
one of 32 members of the State Assembly in Piau were linked by family
or political ties to the great landed proprietors of the state,
especially the Pires Ferreira.
winning party at the federal or state level, he could expect to in
fluence (l) the appointment of people to the federal or state admin
istrative posts in the municipio, e.g., police, revenue officials,
judges, and teachers; (2) the construction of a road, bridge, or other
public works which increased the value of his property or that of his
friends; (3) the allocation of agricultural credit; and (4) the
maintenance of the status quo.
A change in the status quo most frequently came if other land
owner-bosses were linked to the dominant state or national government
coalitions or if groups of peasants and laborers gathered around
charismatic leaders such as Antonio Conselheiro of Os Sertffes fame*
or Padre Cicero of southern Cear who promised and delivered better
ment of their lot. If the latter groups reached a certain size, set
tled somewhere and cultivated the land, they sometimes became a nuisance
to the landowners in the region because they not only made potential
labor scarce but because they also withdrew it from their former em
ployers. In this case, landowners or bosses would attempt to influence
the state or federal government to disperse or liquidate these groups.
Therefore it was important to be on good terms with the dominant bosses
of a region or a state if one's own power position was threatened by
competing landowners or aspiring landowner-bosses. Padre Cicero, un
like Antonio Conselheiro, was never molested by government troops
because he already had intimate personal connections with the govern
ment of the state and because he was a very powerful local boss and
^Euclides da Cunha, Rebellion in the Backlands, trans. Samuel
Putnam (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1944), is an
English-language translation of this story.
landowner in his own right who did not threaten the dominance 6f other
bosses in other parts of Cear, Piaui, or Pernambuco.'
The Effect of the Federal Structure
Interest group theorists writing of the tactics of influence in
the governmental process have recognized, at least implicitly, the
importance of localization and expansion strategies when they speak
of locating, developing, and improving "access"; Truman writes:
Access to one or more key points of decision in the government
. . becomes the facilitating intermediate objective of polit
ical interest groups . and includes efforts to exclude
competing groups from equivalent access or to set up new deci
sion points access to whatever institution of government we
observe interest groups operating, the common feature of all
their efforts is the attempt to achieve effective access to points
And even though David Easton indicates that systems theory as
sumes that "the producers of outputs are unified and undifferentiated,"
he recognizes the possibility that a federal system or one with
"plural authorities" increase "significantly the probability of hetero-
geneity of outputs."
'Galjart, op. cit. p. 8, and Barbosa da Silva, op. cit. pp. 181
Vila^a and Albuquerque, op. cit. pp. 62-63, discuss the 1911
Alliance of the Coronis by which "possible reciprocal invasions of the
redoubts" by different Northeastern bosses was ended because of the
work of Coronel Floro Bartolomeu and Padre Cicero.
Truman, op. cit. p. 264.
^David Easton, A Systems Analysis of Political Life (New York:
John Wiley and Sons, 1965) PP- 452-453.
On p. 119 Easton indicated that demands "may move from and
through one of these subsystems to another, depending on the demand's
particular career," although he does not define what he meant by
The federal structure of Brazil offers many opportunities for
contestants in economic and political conflict to realize their goals
even though the formal structure has changed several times in the
last thirty-five years. With respect to the behavior of actos in
rural conflicts since 1955, it appears useful to posit the following
1. Losers in a political conflict fought on one level are not
content to accept negative decisions if there is a pos
sibility of becoming winners or of losing less by expanding
a conflict to a higher level of government.1
2. Winners make every effort to localize a conflict at a level
where their advantage is maximized, even though they may
continue to be winners as the conflict expands, i.e.,
expansion is a calculated risk which they do notwish to
3. Where one chooses to articulate interests and make demands
in a hierarchy of governmental authority can make a dif
ference in the outcome of a conflict.^
Thus, landowners, agri cu 11ura1-industri alists, and rural sindicato
leaders sought to have controversies resolved at the level of authori
tative decision-making which they perceived as most favorable to their
"subsystem" in this instance.
Louis H. Masotti, "Intergovernmental Relations and the Social
ization of Conflict: Interest Articulation in the Politics of Educa
tion," a paper deliverd at the 1967 Midwest Conference of Political
Scientists, Purdue University, Lafayette, Indiana, April 28, 1967,
p. 15, footnote 15, notes that Easton's examples of "subsystem" or
"demands" are confusing.
'e. E. Schattschneider, The Semisovereign People (New York:
Holt, Rinehart S- Winston, I960), p. 3, argues that the most important
strategy of politics is concerned with who gets involved and who makes
decisions. On pp. 6768, he states "he who determines what politics is
about runs the country, because the definitions of the alternatives is
the choice of conflicts and the choice of conflicts allocates power."
Adapted from Masotti, op. cit.. p. 6.
own preferences. Rural sindi cato leaders are unable to mobilize as
many factors of power such as attitudes, violence, bureaucratic
expertise, time, and money, as landowners. Therefore they have tended
to seek outside help from the DRT or President of the Republic much
more frequently than the landowners or sugar industrialists who make
efforts to maintain the existing favorable power ration. There is
nothing inherently good or bad about the particular level at which a
conflict is fought or resolved:' it depends on whether the participants
are willing to accept decisions at that level, what their chances are
for getting more favorable treatment or fewer losses at another level,
and what resources are available to various participants to either
expand or localize a conflict.
Interest Group Activities and Administrative
Pressure groups have multiple formal access points to admin
istrative agencies plus innumerable informal access points through
kinship, panelinha and clientele links. Landowner pressure groups
'For a discussion of the process and forms of conflict resolu
tion or accommodation, see Joseph S. Vandiver, "Accommodation, As
similation, and Acculturation," in Rural Sociology, Alvin L. Bertrand
(ed.) (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1958), pp. 320-333.
^See Masotti, op. cit., p. 6.
^Peterson, op. cit. p. 493, suggests that "most groups make
their demands directly upon the administrative branch of government
rather than channeling them through the political party system and
Norman Blume, "Contemporary Brazilian Pressure Groups; A Case
Study," paper presented to the Ohio Association of Economists and
Political Scientists, Worthington, Ohio, April 1967, unnumbered pp.
12-13, found the following in a 1956 organizational chart of the
Brazilian government: 12 Ministries; 24 organs not ministries but
such as the SRB, CRB, and crop associations have used various ap
proaches with the Ministries or Institutes dealing with agricultural
or rural concerns, e.g., Ministries of Agriculture, Labor, or Finance,
the Sugar and Alcohol or the Rice Institute, and the Bank of Brazil.
A preferred method of pressure groups is to place their members on
the work groups that develop proposed legislation (projetos de leis).'
With a shortage of qualified people knowledgeable in the subject
matter, access to these working groups is not difficult for interest
groups with technical knowledge. Later, they attempt to place
members or family relatives in the key power centers within an agency,
especially around the Minister or President of an Instituto. If at
all possible, the pressure groups direct themselves to the Minister
for it is he who is the chief "signal caller" for the major plays or
policies of an agency. Reasons for this are two-fold:
1. Brazilian bureaucrats are by tradition reluctant to accept
2. The policies of the Minister of Institute President control
the promotional and career patterns of the civil servant
within an agency.2
The preferred technique is personal contact. Access is facili
tated if the political views of the group and the minister are similar,
responsible to the President; 6 national corporations such as Petro-
bras; 48 autarchies, 4 of which are directly under the President; 20
mixed public-private economic entities which are directly responsible
to the President, 4 foundations, and 9 mixed agencies designed to
facilitate international agreements.
'John Rood and Frank Sherwood, "The 'Workhorse' Group in Brazil
ian Administration," Perspectives of Brazilian Public Administration.
Vol. I, the Comparative Series in Brazilian School of Public Administra
tion, Getdlio Vargas Foundation, Rio de Janeiro, and The School of Public
Administration, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, June,
1963, pp. 47-56.
I bid.. and Blume, op, cit.. p. 13.
but access is also managed by inviting the minister to a luncheon meet
ing of the group leadership, to be the major speaker before a meeting
of the general membership, to be a panel discussant at a conference
sponsored by the group, or to be one of the lecturers in courses given
by or sponsored jointly by the group.' In the more traditional areas
of the country, pressure is also brought upon a minister or one of his
subordinates by a demonstration (passeata). which also involves.a risk
that group posture can be undermined if the demonstration is not big
enough.^ The Congressional friends of an agency are cultivated over
a period of time, beginning with some form of informal social contact
if no kinship or pane 1inha links are available. Once a friendship is
started, through the years it is solidified, reinforced, and enlarged
as an agency performs sundry types of favors for a Congressman and
vice versa including Congressional help for administrators in dif
The Ministry of Labor and Labor Disputes
Labor-management disputes have been the responsibility of the
Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare created by Vargas as his first
act in office on November 23, 1930. The Ministry is organized into
a series of departments which deal with the legal and technical aspects
^Blume, op. cit. pp. 13l4.
Peterson, op. cit. p. 493 notes "groups do from time to time
come to the Congress to demonstrate, but this is a rather sporadic
type of pressure." Actually, the technique, al be it sporadic, is also
used at the State Assembly and Municipio level.
^Blume, op. cit.. p. 16.
of management-1abor conflicts and has a series of Regional Delegates
for each or a group of states. It is among the largest of the fourteen
ministries because of its control over the Social Welfare funds created
by the Vargas regime.' Although probably not created as a presiden
tial agency for the settling of political disputes as opposed to labor
disputes, it also has come to perform this function, and to become a
desirable prize because of the numerous patronage possibilities for
members of the coalitions supporting a winning President.
The Regional Delegates operate in a changing political framework
and have to be attuned to the dominant political configurations of a
given moment. Although a labor movement has existed for many years,
collective bargaining has not been institutionalized in Brazil as it
has in the United States or even in Peru. The Regional Delegates,
or DRT's, in theory function to promote harmonious worker-management
relations but in practice their activities in the rural sector have
developed only since the organization of rural sindicatos in the 1960's.
The Ministry and the DRT's prefer to avoid as much direct responsibility
as possible not only because of the political feedback which could
'Anuario Estatistico. 1961. p. 417, indicates 40,609 persons oc
cupied positions in Institutes and autarquas controlled by the MTPS
out of a total 87,410 persons working for such autarquias in the federal
^Rowe, "The Revolution1 and the System,1" Part II, p. 5,
criticizes the "right of the Ministry to approveand even to make
appointments of union leaders, leading to an aristocracy of pel egos
(union leaders more dependent on the government than on their own
^Ibid. and Alexander, Labor Relations in Argentina, Brazil,
and Chile. For a comparison, see Payne, Labor and Politics in Peru,
pp. 56-75, which discusses the highly centralized Peruvian system.
endanger their career and promotional possibilities, but also because
of the limited resources of the DRT's who fear the burden of the
Urban or rural worker interest groups cannot function without
formal recognition by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare (MTPS).
This gives the Minister or his DRT considerable power in regulating
sindi cato policies and leadership composition. Although the Ministry's
role is highly political, most DRT's and upper echelon Labor Ministry
officials like to maintain a fiction that objective criteria and not
political criteria are the bases for decisions in an agricultural or
industrial conflict. If a dispute involves wage demands, officials
present their decisions as based on a rise in the cost of living over
a recent period of time and the "real needs" of the workers. However,
since not all workers receive the benefits of these decisions or their
enforcement, this reasoning is flimsy indeed.
Although collective bargaining was common in some urban labor-
management situations, collective bargaining was not common in conflicts
involving rural sugar, coffee, or cacao workers until 1963 when the
Rural Worker Statute was promulgated.
'interviews with Haroldo Veloso Furtado, DRT, Recife, June 4,
1965 and Amadeus Barreto, DRT, Salvador da Bahia, May 19, 1965. Barreto
has been DRT in Bahia for more than five years because of his friend
ship with Juracy Magalhaes, former Interventor, Governor, and federal
Ministeras well as UDN party leader.
^-Alexander, Organized Labor in Latin America, p.. 72, and Freitas
Marcondes, "Social Legislation in Brazil," pp. 382-399-
Rural Labor Legislation
The gradual extinction of slavery which culminated in 1888 with
the freeing of the slaves by the Lei Aurea (Golden Law) and their sub
sequent flight from agriculture, created an acute need for new rural
workers and sources of food commodities. These two needs gave rise to
the current of immigration of the last one hundred years. Most of the
laws affecting rural labor were ineffectual or not respected until the
Consolidated Work Laws (Consolidacao das Leis do Trabalho or CLT) were
promulgated on May 1, 1943.' Although Vargas excluded rural workers
and small family farmers from most Estado Novo legislation under a
bargain with large landowner leaders, certain CLT provisions are
expressly applicable to rural workers: minimum wage legislation was
extended to rural areas (Article 76-129); the right to annual vaca
tions (Article 129l47); the right to prior notice of dismissal or
termination of a labor contract (Articles 487-491); and payment in
kind was modestly regulated by Article 506. Nevertheless, many
'J. V. Freitas Marcondes, First Brazilian Legislation Relating
to Rural Labor Unions (Gainesville: School of 1nter-American Studies,
University of Florida, June, 1962), discusses Decree 979 of January 6,
1903, and Decree 6,532 of June 20, 1907-
See also Robert E. Price, "Rural Unionization in Brazil" (Madison
University of Wisconsin, The Land Tenure Center, August 1964) (Mimeo
graphed), pp. 3-12, for a chronological description of such legisla
Note the similarity in the United States. See Robert D.
Tomasek, "The Migrant Problem and Pressure Group Politics," Journal
of Politics, Vol. XXI I I, No. 2 (May, 1961), pp. 302-303, who
indicates that the American Farm Bureau Federation joined with the
National Grange and specialized farm groups to prevent application
of social security and social welfare legislation to migrant domestic
and Mexican labor. In fact, even in 1967> most migratory farm
laborers are not covered by the provisions of minimum wage or social