Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Proclamação da República

Today is another public holiday in Brazil, Proclamation of the Republic (Brazil). Got this from one of the website: -

The final abolition of slavery is usually regarded as the most immediate cause for the fall of the monarchy. With the Emperor away in Europe, his daughter, Princess Isabel, acted as Regent. On May 13, 1888, responding to the collapse of slavery as a workable system and yielding to pressures from the abolitionists, she signed the so-called "Golden Law" (Lei Áurea) which abolished slavery in Brazil. The abolition of slavery was in reality the outcome of a long-standing British policy of putting pressure on the Brazilian government to end the slave trade. The fight against the trade intended to assist the expansion of production in British colonies (e.g. surgar), thereby favouring the growth of British industrial capitalism.

It must be noted that by the end of the l9th century, slavery in Brazil was declining under pressure from immigrant labourers whose wages cost less than the upkeep of slaves. Nevertheless, the "Golden Law" set off a reaction among slave owners which rapidly eroded the political foundations of the monarchy. After a few months of parliamentary crises, the Emperor was deposed on November 15, 1889, by a military movement that proclaimed the abrogation of the monarchy and the establishment of the Republic.

This institutional transformation, albeit profound, was carried out without bloodshed. Although treated with all possible respect, the Emperor and his family had to be asked to leave the country. Accompanied by some close associates, they went into exile in France. Most of the leading figures of the country lent their support and collaboration to the new regime; among them was one of Brazil's most outstanding statesmen, the Baron of Rio Branco. It was his wisdom and skillful diplomacy that enabled Brazil to end, by treaty or arbitration, nearly all its outstanding frontier disputes.

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