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Hispanic American Historical Review 82.1 (2002) 183-184

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Book Review

Dos coronéis à metrópole: Fios e tramas da sociedade e da política em Ribeirão Preto no século XX

Dos coronéis à metrópole: Fios e tramas da sociedade e da política em Ribeirão Preto no século XX. By THOMAS W. WALKER and AGNALDO DE SOUSA BARBOSA. Translated by MARIANA CARLA MAGRI. Ribeirão Preto: Palavra Mágica, 2000 . Photographs. Tables. Notes. Bibliography. 222 pp. Paper.

This is a study of the metamorphosis of economy, society, and politics in Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo, one of Brazil's most economically dynamic municípios, in the twentieth century. It shows how economic activity diversified from coffee cultivation to a variety of industrial and service enterprises over the ninety years from 1910 to 2000 , during which time the county's population rose from some 60 ,000 to nearly half a million, serving a local hinterland of three million people. The central focus, however, is on the changing political styles from classic coronelismo (rural bossism) during the Old Republic (1889-1930) to the populism of the years 1945-64, followed by military dictatorship and finally democratic rule in the 1990 s. Four-fifths of the text consists of a translation of Walker's 1974 political science dissertation, with a concluding epilogue by historian Sousa Barbosa, covering the period between 1960 and 2000 .

Ribeirão Preto, in São Paulo's Mogiana zone, was the coffee capital of the world on the eve of World War I. Two of the county's coffee magnates, Henrique Dumont and Francisco Schmidt, owned millions of trees in the area. Schmidt, a German immigrant, was also one of two rival chefes políticos, corraling the vote in Ribeirão Preto and neighboring counties for the Partido Republicano Paulista (PRP), the state establishment party. Schmidt ultimately lost out to Joaquim (Quinzinho) Diniz Junquira, a fellow coffee planter enjoying the advantage of traditional family prestige. Quinzinho was powerful enough to buck the PRP establishment in 1910 and support Marshal Hermes da Fonseca for president against the PRP's choice, Rui Barbosa. In the entire state of São Paulo, Hermes won only Ribeirão Preto. Yet the Marshal took the national election, and Quinzinho was [End Page 183] able to ingratiate himself again with the PRP by supporting the state machine against federal intervention--a project Hermes briefly considered in 1911 .

Quinzinho continued to rule his fief until the Vargas revolution, but the relative centralization of power in years 1930-45 and the ban on formal elections after 1936 brought an end to coronelismo. As late as 1936 , however, the "liberal" parties, the PRP and the Partido Constitucionalista (formerly the Partido Democrático) controlled 90 percent of the vote, with the former holding a majority of município council seats. There was some continuity even during Vargas's dictatorship, in that the Estado Novo prefect, Fábio da Sá Barreto, was a member of the traditional elite and had been a protégé of Quinzinho.

After the war there was no single chefe político. The constitutional regime of 1946 ushered in a multiparty system, with many leaders from nontraditional families. Italo-Brazilians in particular were conspicuous, not surprisingly in a município in which 42 percent of the population was foreign-born in 1912 , most of them Italian. Populist politicians tended to predominate by the early 1960 s.

A populist named Welson Gasparini, locally well-known as a radio broadcaster, was prefect at the time of the 1964 coup, but embraced the military government and kept his job; such opportunism allowed him to extend his influence into the 1970 s, and thus to enjoy the longest career in local politics since Quinzinho. The Left only regained power at the local level in 1983 , when the Partido del Movimento Democrático Brazileiro (PMDB) elected a candidate.

Out of power from 1988 to 1992 , a leftist coalition returned to office in...


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