Meaning of Coronelismo (What it is, Concept and Definition)

Coronelismo was a system that became known during the Old Republic, where the coroneis (rich farmers) were primarily responsible for commanding the country's political scene.

Also known as the "Republic of Colonels" or "Republic of the Oligarchs", a old republic (1889 – 1930) was the first republican model applied in the country after Brazil's independence.

At that time, the national economy was still highly concentrated on rural production and the large farmers, who were already quite financially influential, they bought military titles to expand their powers, mainly over politics and decision-making that directly affected the lives of the most popular citizens. poor.

Thus, these "colonels" played a respectable authoritarian role in the regions they controlled, directly influencing in the lives of the inhabitants of these localities who, in turn, owed obedience and loyalty to the farmers to which worked.

With the Revolution of 1930, coronelismo began to lose its power in the country, thanks to the campaign led by the president Getulio Vargas to fight this authoritarian system.

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Another factor that helped determine the end of coronelismo was the increased rural exodus, which led thousands of people to abandon rural life and head for the large developing urban centers.

Learn more about the meaning of Rural exodus.

Characteristics of Coronelismo

Some of the main characteristics that marked coronelismo were:

  • patronage: it consisted of the relationship that the citizens had with the colonels of their regions, mainly the poorest, who were treated as if they were their “clients”. Thus, the most humble people were totally dependent on the orders of their "bosses".
  • halter vote: the colonels controlled the voters' vote and threatened those who did not vote for the candidates they supported. For fear of reprisals, people let the colonels choose who they should vote for. Thus, the colonels were able to command the construction of the regional political scenario.

Learn more about the meaning of halter vote.

  • Electoral fraud: in addition to the “leather vote”, the colonels also used to rig elections. With a weak and insecure electoral system, the colonels were able to alter the votes, disappear with ballot boxes, falsify documents (so that the people could vote several times) and even practiced the so-called “ghost voting”, with the documents of people who were already dead or not existed.
  • "Coffee with Milk" Policy: name given to the scheme armed between the political leaders of São Paulo (known for being the biggest coffee producer in the country) and Minas Gerais (largest producers of milk and its derivatives). With the mutual support between these two powers, politicians ensured the continued maintenance of power only among candidates from these locations.
  • Governors Policy: it was an agreement signed between the governors and the president of the republic, which consisted in the exchange of favors, with the aim of both remaining in power without disturbances.
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