What I found interesting from the textbook this week is the look at populism in the region during the mid to late 20th century, especially in countries like Brazil and Argentina. These two countries are also interesting because they are largest in the region and have a history (particularly in the 20th century) of switching from democracy to dictatorship back to democracy again. For this blog post I would like to talk about two countries and how technology of that time was used to insight populist sentiment in the countries for or against the leaders of Brazil and Argentina.
Let us start with an analysis of the Portuguese elephant in the analogical room of the region, Brazil. Interestingly enough, Brazil is not talk a lot in previous chapter and the last detailed look at the country was during the chapter on slavery. In this chapter however, there is a two detailed section on the fall of Vargas and how radio lead his opponents to voice their critiques of him. As the chapter noted, radio was introduced to Brazil in 1922 and by the mid 1930’s, there was a radio in most of the households of the major urban areas. The radio usually played samba music and it allowed Vargas to promote his states and their goals, but I want to talk about how the radio help lead to Vargas’ fall. Political opponents like Lacerda would use radio to promote his anti-Vargas views and called for his elimination. This rhetoric increased when an assailants that were suspected to be backed by Vargas failed to kill Lacerda. The use of the radio was so useful to the downfall of Vargas, it lead fewer Brazilians to back his regime and in the end, he killed himself and he dominated the airwaves one last time as his suicide note was read.
Turning to Argentina, we again look at the power of radio and its use by Juan Perón. Perón was less dictatorial then Vargas was and allowed for the radio to voice of rage from the people and also freed the tango from censorship. Perón was also seen as self-made man coming from a unprivileged background. He and his wife Evita used the radio as a way of broadcasting their message about bringing about a modern Argentina by increasing the wages of everyday workers but also increasing their share in the political capital that for a long time was held by the higher ups in Argentine society. He and his wife would use the slang of the everyday people of the country that more successfully brought his party’s message of social justice and pride into the working people. Even when he was jailed in 1945, a group of 250,000 people came out and demanded his release. If this is not a statement on how Perón spoke to the people, then nothing is. Although this caused during the 50’s when the country’s economy started to go down, but Peron’s message still continues in the country even to this day, which is a statement to his ability to reach the people on a very basic level.