Rio de Janeiro (Oct. 27)
The recent developments in the political and economic fields in Brazil have had their reaction on the condition of the Jews here. It is therefore worth while to glance at a few outstanding facts.
Brazil is now undergoing a severe economic crisis; the exchange has dropped, government credits have been cut down and, in addition to this, we have had a very hard winter which destroyed a tremendous amount of crops. Alongside of these things, the military revolt in Sao Paulo has aggravated the economic depression to an unbearable degree.
With regard to the Sao Paulo revolt it must be pointed out that this is not a political issue between the Left and Right, or an attempt of one of the parties in the struggle to gain the sympathies of the Brazilian masses. The conflict which is going on between the government and the revolutionists is purely an economic one. The industrialists aim to oust the agrarians from power. The capitalists wish to industrialize Brazil in order that it may be less dependent on foreign capitalists and to do this they find it necessary to secure complete control of the government. But it is not in the interests of the agrarian class to let politics fall into the hands of the industrialists because they are constantly in need of cheap labor, which the industrialists are taking away from them, and besides, it pays for them, in general, to control and run the government. In the course of the past few years the agrarians have been in the seat of power and their unscrupulous policy has been such that the country actually became impoverished.
These are the real causes for the conflict between the two parties. One party believes that the agrarians have filched enough money from the public treasury and the other believes that the industrialists should be kept away from control of politics in order to preserve the present convenient state of affairs.
During the entire time that Sao Paulo was under siege, commercial and business activities in the capital were paralyzed. Conditions reached such a critical point that at one time, when an English cruiser made its appearance, it was greatly feared that there would be an intervention of foreign powers, owing to which the bankers of Brazil conducted a secret sabotage against the government and the latter was forced immediately after capturing Sao Paulo to declare a moratorium.
The Jews in Sao Paulo, whose chief occupation is peddling, fell complete prey to this revolution. Being dependent chiefly on the Brazilian workingmen and poorer classes for their revenue, Jewish businessmen in Sao Paulo suffered a very severe slump. A part of the population had been dispersed and a part had lost its employment which was enough to bring absolute ruin to the Jewish peddlers, because the entire Jewish business is conducted on the plan of selling goods on installment. In order to extricate themselves from the unbearable conditions brought about by the revolution a large number of Jewish peddlers were forced into bankruptcy.
Naturally, these things could not but make a very bad impression on public opinion and aroused a hostile attitude toward the Jewish businessmen on the part of the Brazilian banks which made the Jewish situation even more impossible. Owing to the strong possibilities of the continuation of the unsettled political state it is to be feared that the economic ruin which has befallen the Sao Paulo Jews will extend to the Jews of other cities.
It is the general opinion here that the country is faced with even graver danger because the Sao Paulo revolt was only the signal for the beginning of a long drawn out revolution which cannot be avoided unless the government should resign. The Jews, of course, will come in for their share of suffering.