The national elections were only a month away. Brazil seethed with rumors: 1) that Dictator Getulio Vargas (no candidate) would find some way to remain in power; 2) that the supporters of Opposition Candidate General Eduardo Gomes, doubting the chances of an honest election, would stage a revolt.

This week Vargas backers rioted in the streets. Tough Joao Alberto Lins de Barros, chief of the powerful federal police force, resigned, and Getulio's sinister, trigger-happy brother, Benjamin, replaced him. Canny old War Minister General Pedro Aurelio Goes Monteiro also stepped out. The commander...

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