12 APRIL 1935, Page 36


By Ernest Hambloch

His Majeity the President (Methuen, 10s. 6d.) is a study of the disastrous effects of presidentialist government in the republics of South America. Mr. Hambloch is mainly con- cerned with the United States of Brazil, that vast empire which has failed to realize its incomparable possibilities of Li development. The purpose of his book is to -fliethe blame on

the constitution (based on that of the United States), which is in theory republican but in fact leads inevitably to military

despotism of the worst kind. Tile reign of Dom Pedro the Second, which was ended by the coup (1' elat of 1889, was a period of peaceful, if slow, progress in the exploitation of natural resources, the development of railways, and the growth of a prosperous export trade ; it also saw the begin- nings of representative government: But after 1889 political liberty ceased to exist except -as a catchword in the revolu- tionary manifestoeS and eloquent-. perorations of would-be presidents: 4 president's tenure of .offteg is so precarious that he is unable to do more than attempt to consolidate his own' position, and has little lime for pursuing the interests of his country. It follows that force must be the principal weapon. in a politician's arnioury, andhernusteither have-the support of the Army (the highest paid and-most influential profession '- in Brazil), or else control it-7if lie can. He is the old Spanish f-acique with a new name ; a sort of political boss 'Whose excuse, Mr suppressive measures is the- defence of a liberty which is non-existent, and, of course, the Constitution. Unfortunately, the people do not understand why every president as well as every revolutionary leader is so eager to defend the Constitu- tion, and so they follow its most eloquent and dominating defender, until a still more eloquent and dominating per- sonality compels their support. In the meanwhile Brazil remains " a country of the future," a position she has occupied since Humboldt, a century and a half ago, foretold for her a great civilization. Mr. Hambloch, after ninny years of Consular and private experience in Brazil, has produced a timely study of the effects of half a century of dictatorship on that country, which is not without application to European problems.