In the meantime, we thought about the postwar period. Brazil felt that it was the main country in Latin America and was the only one that had participated in the “invasion of Europe”. He was therefore preparing to develop his wealth more and more, and to take the first place among the nations of South America. If the old rivalry with Argentina did not manifest itself directly – towards which it took a rather conciliatory attitude during the 1944-45 crisis – Brazil tended to excel, alongside Mexico, in inter-American conferences and in the meantime it pushed forward the projects, formulated for years, to attract, with the construction of roads and railways to Santa Cruz and Concepción, the traffic of Bolivia and Paraguay to the port of Santos, by granting a ”
But domestic politics already revealed a certain profound unease with the resignation (August 1944) of the “coordinator” João Lins de Barros and of the foreign minister Aranha (replaced by Fr Leão Velloso, without alterations in foreign policy). There was too much talk of freedom and democracy; Vargas had had to promise, since April 1944, free elections and a representative government for the postwar period; if the police regime was justified by the need to further repress the Nazi-Japanese subversive activities, there was no shortage of reasons for discontent, also of an economic nature, in a country with an average standard of living and real incomes still quite low. To the increase of the life were added deprivations for deficiencies of alimentary products; nor was the United States able to raise the price of coffee.
At the beginning of 1945, Vargas announced elections, federal for December 1945, and state elections for May 1946. In the meantime, the press was given some freedom and granted an amnesty.
The presentation of two candidacies, by the aviation general Eduardo Gomes, supported by the Unión nacional democraticaopposed to the government, and that of the minister of war EC Dutra, supported by the state of Matto Grosso and the Social Democratic party, made people suspect that Vargas wanted to divide the army, to provoke an impact and then present himself as the necessary peacemaker. But when, in October, the Supreme Electoral Court decided that the assembly to be elected would be constituent and legislative together, against the plans of the Democrats, and Vargas brought the date of the state elections to December 2 by placing (29) at the head of the police his brother Beniamino, it was feared that he was preparing a coup. During the night, Rio’s troops, in favor of Gomes, surrounded the palace; but the Vargas agreed to withdraw and left power, according to the constitution, to the president of the Supreme Court, José Linhares.
He formed a new government to prepare the elections while the Vargas formed the Labor Party (Trabalist) to support the Dutra; who on 2 December was elected with a strong majority. But two facts were noteworthy: the election of Vargas (despite having declared to retire to private life) as senator of the native Rio Grande do Sul, and the votes (about 9.4 of valid votes) obtained by the Communist candidate Yeddo Fiuza.
The Dutra assumed power on January 31, 1946 by appointing a ministry of his party, in addition to the gen. Goes, to war, and Labor Otacilio Negrão da Lima, to work; the Constituent Assembly, which met in February, drew up the new constitution, approved on September 17 and promulgated the following day.
In the international field, Brazil was elected in 1946 to a two-year seat on the United Nations Security Council and participated – as a signatory of the armistice with Germany – in the Paris Peace Conference; it gave its recognition to the Austrian government in May 1946. It hosted the Inter-American Defense Conference (August 1947) in Petropolis, and in this as well as in the subsequent Bogotá Conference (March-April 1948) he was eager to give effectiveness and concreteness to the “American system”. But even more, perhaps, he was concerned with intensifying commercial relations. Thus, he concluded an agreement with Belgium (May 1946) and one, after a series of economic and even political frictions, with Argentina, which cedes grain to Brazil in exchange for rubber, automotive tires and cotton fabrics. Relations with Argentina appeared to have improved even more, after the meeting between Presidents Dutra and Perón, at the international bridge over the Uruguay River on 12 May 1947; the Dutra met President Berreta of Uruguay the next day. In July, the president of Chile, Gonzáles Videla, visited Rio, and signed a trade treaty for the exchange of rice, sugar, coffee, cotton, rubber and manufactured goods against Chilean nitrates and copper. The negotiations with Great Britain for the settlement of Brazilian sterling credits and the increase in trade led to the agreements of April 1947 and May 31, 1948, which provided for the use of credits for the redemption of Brazilian foreign debt. British-owned public services and railways (already underway) and exchanged for £ 68.5 million. Brazil entered into agreements for air services and obtained a loan from the United States in 1946 for the purchase of railway equipment. Who, by withdrawing their troops in 1946, put an end to much criticism, so that relations between the two countries remained cordial.
The Communist Party had strengthened its organization and further increased the number of followers, winning a good number of seats and putting together – it was said – about 800,000 votes, in the state elections of January 1946. In them local political considerations prevailed but the results (on the whole, more favorable to the opposition than to the government) seemed to mark the beginning of a new orientation of the parties. Groups that founded the Republican and “Democratic Left” parties have detached from the Democratic Union. But on 23 May a Communist rally led to a bloody conflict with the police. Hence the first repression measures and the split of the General Confederation of Workers. Attempts at an understanding between the Democratic Union and the government parties in the last months of 1946, they failed. Meanwhile, the integralist leader Plinio Salgado returned from exile. The struggle against communism has therefore intensified, parallel to what has happened in other South American countries. The main episodes are: the procedure, begun in the same month, to have the Communist Party declared unconstitutional and the parliamentary mandates lapsed, as the Congress did with a law promulgated in January 1948; the agreement of the same month between the Social Democratic, Republican and Democratic Union parties to support the government; the law on national security, presented to Congress in July, which replaces the one of 1938 (abolished by the new constitution) punishes the anti-democratic political crimes prohibited by the constitution; in the international field, the rupture of diplomatic relations with the Tass (October 21-22, 1947); and the fact that Brazil, with the United States and Peru, was associated with Chile in presenting the motion against communism at the Inter-American Conference in Bogotá (April 30, 1948). The five-year SALTE plan (saude, alimentação, transporte, energia), made known in June, provides for public works costs of 19,700 million cruzeiros.