Founded and led by Plínio Salgado in late 1932, a minor literary figure, who adapted Fascist and Nazi symbolism and salutes and wore a square mustache like Hitler, Integralism had all the outlandish superficial trappings of European fascism. With a green-shirted paramilitary organization with uniformed ranks, highly regimented street demonstrations, and aggressive rhetoric directly financed in part by the Italian embassy, the Integralists borrowed their propaganda campaigns directly from Nazi materials —including the usual traditionalist excoriations of Marxism, liberalism, and Jews and espousals of fanatical nationalism (out of context in the heterogeneous and tolerant nation) and "Christian virtues". Like the European fascists, they were essentially petit bourgeois. In particular, they drew support from military officers, especially in the navy.
Brazilian President Getulio Vargas turned to Integralism, the only mobilized base of support on the right, which was elated his atrocious, fascist-style crackdown against the Brazilian left.
With center-left tenentes out of the Vargas' coalition and the left crushed, Vargas gradually started seeking to co-opt the popular movement to attain a popular support base.
Integralism, claiming a rapidly growing membership throughout Brazil by 1935, especially among the approximately one million Brazilians of German descent, began filling this ideological void.
In 1934, the Integralists targeted the Communist movement led by the legendary Luiz Carlos Prestes, mobilizing a conservative mass support base engaging in street brawls and urban. In 1934, following the disintegration of Vargas' delicate alliance with labor and his new alliance with the fascist Integralists, Brazil entered one of the most agitated periods in its political history. Brazil's major cities began to resemble the Nazi-Communist battles in Berlin of 1932-33. By mid-1935 Brazilian politics had been drastically destabilized.
When Vargas established full dictatorial powers under the Estado Novo in 1937, he crushed the movement. Though the Integralists favored Vargas' hard right turn, Plínio Salgado was overly ambitious, with overt presidential aspirations that threatened Vargas' grip on power.