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Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco

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Title: Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco  
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Subject: Artur da Costa e Silva, Brazilian presidential election, 1964, Brazilian military government, National Intelligence Service of Brazil, President of Brazil
Collection: 1897 Births, 1967 Deaths, Brazilian Anti-Communists, Brazilian Military Government, Brazilian Military Personnel of World War II, Brazilian People of Indigenous Peoples Descent, Brazilian People of Portuguese Descent, Brazilian Roman Catholics, Cold War Leaders, Leaders Who Took Power by Coup, Marshals of Brazil, People from Fortaleza, Presidents of Brazil, State Leaders Killed in Aviation Accidents or Incidents, Victims of Aviation Accidents or Incidents in Brazil
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Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco

His Excellency
Humberto Castelo Branco
26th President of Brazil
In office
15 April 1964 – 15 March 1967
Vice President José Maria Alkmin
Preceded by Ranieri Mazzilli
Succeeded by Artur da Costa e Silva
Personal details
Born (1897 -09-20)20 September 1897
Fortaleza, Brazil
Died 18 July 1967(1967-07-18) (aged 69)
Fortaleza, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party ARENA
Spouse(s) Argentina Vianna
Children Nieta
Profession Military, politician
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Allegiance Brazil
Service/branch Brazilian Army
Years of service 1921–1964
Rank Field marshal
Commands • 10th Military Region, headquartered in Fortaleza (1952–1954)
• School of General Staff (1954–1956)
• Garrison of the Amazon (1958–1960)
• 8th Military Region, headquartered in Belém (1958–1960)
Battles/wars Second World War
Italian Campaign

Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco Portuguese pronunciation:  (20 September 1897 – 18 July 1967) was a Brazilian military leader and politician.

He served as President of Brazil after the 1964 military coup d'etat. He was killed in an aircraft collision in July 1967, soon after resigning his office.


  • Family background 1
  • Military career 2
  • Political career 3
  • Death 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Family background

Castelo Branco was descended from a wealthy Northeastern Brazilian family. His father, Cândido Borges Castelo Branco, had also been a general. His mother, Antonieta Alencar Castelo Branco, came from an intellectual family (which included the writer José de Alencar).

Castelo Branco married Argentina Vianna, and had two children, Nieta and Paulo.[1]

Military career

Castelo Branco joined the Brazilian Army in 1918. He was a student at a military school, the Escola Militar de Realengo (in Rio de Janeiro), then in 1921 he joined the 12th Infantry Regiment in Belo Horizonte. In 1927, he returned to his military school as an infantry instructor. He was promoted to captain in 1938.

As a captain, he studied in England. He was made a lieutenant colonel in 1943. During World War II, he was a colonel in the Brazilian Expeditionary Force which fought in Italy against Germany. He served as "Chief of the Operations Section" ("chefe de seção de operações") and is said to have spent 300 days in combat zones.

Castelo Branco subsequently wrote a large number of academic studies and treatises on the conduct of war. He was appointed Chief of Staff of the Army by President João Goulart in 1963 and a marshal (of reserves) in 1964.

Political career

Castelo Branco became one of the leaders of the coup d'etat of March 31, 1964 that overthrew Goulart. On April 11, Congress chose him to serve out the balance of Goulart's term. He took the oath of office on April 15, 1964

Castelo Branco was the second Brazilian Field Marshal to become president of the nation through a coup d'état—the first was Deodoro da Fonseca, who deposed the monarchic government of Emperor Dom Pedro II of Brazil in 1889.

Castelo Branco’s government, differently from previous directly elected presidents Juscelino Kubitschek, Jânio Quadros and João Goulart, was bankrolled from the start by the credits and loans from World Bank, International Monetary Fund and massive investment from multinational American companies, which saw the Brazilian right-wing military dictatorship as a new, economically stable Western ally against international communism—mainly in Latin America—during the Cold War.[2]

Castelo Branco was vested with emergency powers under the First Institutional Act, which among other things allowed him to cancel the political rights of "subversive elements" for ten years. However, he was otherwise committed to permitting normal political activities while carrying out reform through legislation. He also had every intention of turning over power to a popularly elected president when Goulart's term was due to run out in 1966. However, several extreme right-wing civilian and military elements felt the military needed to stay in power for a number of years in order to root out subversion. Events reached a breaking point in October 1965, when opposition candidates won the governorships of the major states of Minas Gerais and Guanabara. The extremists demanded that Castelo Branco annul the results, but he refused. A coup was only averted when War Minister Artur Da Costa e Silva persuaded the extremists to let the results stand in return for Castelo Branco's promise to take a tougher line.

Thereafter, Castelo Branco dropped all pretense of democracy. On October 27, he issued the Second Institutional Act, which abolished all existing political parties, restored his emergency powers, and extended his term to 1967. The numerous parties were replaced with only two: the pro-government National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA) and the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB). In 1967, he convened an extraordinary commission of jurists that crafted a highly authoritarian constitution.

He issued many repressive laws, most notably a highly draconian press law (Lei de Imprensa) near the end of his term.[3] This law continued to be valid in Brazil until 2009, when it was struck down by Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court.[4] He was succeeded by Costa e Silva.

He promoted government intervention into the economy (e.g., shutting down by decree the country's flag carrier, Panair do Brasil) and tributary reforms.


Mausoleum of Castelo Branco in Fortaleza, Brazil.

Six months after leaving the presidency, Castelo Branco died in a midair collision of small aircraft near Fortaleza.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ Dulles, John W. F. (1978). Castelo Branco: The Making of a Brazilian President. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press.  
  2. ^ BRAZIL Toward Stability, Time Magazine, December 31, 1965
  3. ^ Some Unpleasant Business, Time Magazine, January 13, 1967
  4. ^ Victory as federal supreme court repeals dictatorship era press law, Reporters Without Borders, May 1, 2009
  5. ^ "Castelo Branco of Brazil Killed in Plane Collision". The New York Times. 18 July 1967. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  6. ^  

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Ranieri Mazzilli
President of Brazil
Succeeded by
Costa e Silva
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