Journal of Latin American Studies

Research Article

‘Living Worse and Costing More’: Resistance and Riot in Rio de Janeiro, 1890–1917

Teresa Meadea1

a1 Teresa Meade is Assistant Professor of History, Union College, Schenectady, New York.

On 1st May 1917 m Rio de Janeiro, protesters took to the streets carrying placards and shouting slogans denouncing high prices and miserable living conditions. Over the succeeding months the May Day protest mushroomed into an unprecedented general strike of more than 50,000 workers in the federal capital. Rio de Janeiro had witnessed frequent protests and agitation against taxes, high prices, shortages, poor housing and public services and the cost of transport during the late Empire and first decades of the Republic.1 What was different about May Day 1917 was that complaints over consumer, community-based issues affecting the general populace triggered off a wave of trade-union militancy unique in the city's history.