Praieira revolt

From Academic Kids

In Brazil, the "Praieira" revolt was a movement in Pernambuco that lasted from 1848 to 1852, linked to the unresolved conflicts remaining from the period of the Regency and local resistance to the consolidation of the Brazilian Empire that had been proclaimed in 1822.

The principal event, which gave a name to the revolt, occurred around the journal Diário Novo ("New Journal") located in the rua da Praia in Recife, Pernambuco's principal port. In the premises of Diário Novo the "praieiros" were in the habit of meeting, the radical wing of the Liberal Party of that state, committed to removing the provincial governor, Antônio Chicorro da Gama, the enemy of the "guabirus", the powerful entrenched Pernambucan aristocracy linked to the Conservatives.

The Conservatives were in power 1841 - 1845. In the 1845 election, the Liberals were returned once again and formed a ministry and managed to pass several party programs: a protectionist tariff (1844), electoral reforms that extended suffrage and reduced the number of electors (1846), creation of a new office, president of the Council of Ministers (1847). This last facilitated parliamentary procedure, contributing to the power of the Ministry, and consequently extending the authority of the Imperial government.

The revolt was a culmination of mounting conflicts between Liberals and Conservatives that escalated with the end of Farroupilha in 1845. In the influential province of Pernambuco, a small group of landowners controlled most of the workable land and preferred to concentrate on agricultural products for export, the unreformed colonial social structure inherited from the 18th century. Brazilian economy was based on slavery and sugar. The long depression in the world market for Brazilian sugar was aggravating social and racial ills in the 1840s.

In this feudal atmosphere of enforced silence, the editor of the short-lived journal O Progresso (1846 - 1848), Antônio Pedro de Figueiredo, spoke out for the half of the province's population that were "vassals under the yoke" and declared that "the division of our soil in grand properties is the source of the major part of our ills." Another contemporary observer maintained that the Cavalcanti family owned one out of three of Pernambuco's sugar factories (engenhos). A network of kinship ties extended the Cavalcanti's power, and Cavacanti was head of the Conservative Party in Pernambuco.

The "praieiros" initiated in Olinda a rebellion against the new provincial government, which rapidly spread through the province. The following year, a "Manifest to the World" was promulgated calling for free and universal voting rights, freedom of the press, federalism and the end of the "Poder Moderador." However, able to raise only 2500 combatants, the movement quickly collapsed and was dispersed by the government forces. Other similar provincial movements swiftly collapsed.

The Praieira revolt was the Brazilian response to the Revolution of 1848 that was playing out concurrently (with equally little permanent liberalizing effect) all across Europe, inspired by early socialist writers like Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Charles Fourier, who were being read in Brazil, and the Englishman Robert Owen, who wasn't. The February revolution in France was the successful one, opening a vista of a better life for ordinary people and striking a responsive chord in Brazilians. The journalist-politician José Tomás Nabuco de Araújo recorded that "the proclamation of the republic in France shook our political world to its depths."

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