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History of Brazil Series.
 Colonial Brazil
 Empire of Brazil
 History of Brazil (1889-1930)
 History of Brazil (1930-1964)
 History of Brazil (1964-present)

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1 Military dictatorship
2 Related Topics

Military dictatorship

Goulart's years in office were marked by high inflation, economic stagnation, and a strong opposition from the armed forces. The armed forces staged a coup on March 31, 1964. The coup leaders chose as president Humberto Castello Branco, followed by Arthur da Costa e Silva (1967-69), Emilio Garrastazu Medici (1968-74), and Ernesto Geisel (1974-79) all of whom were senior army officers. Other characteristics from this period are the suppression of constitutional rights, and strong censorship of the media.

In 1965, all the political parties were proscribed, and political repression was started. Only two parties were allowed, ARENA (Aliança Renovadora Nacional - the dictatorship's party), and MDB (Movimento Democrático Brasileiro - a politically powerless opposition party).

In 1967 the 6th Brazilian Constitution was approved by Congress, institutionalizing the coup, and establishing indirect presidential elections. The Congress, constituted by politicians that were allowed to participate in elections by the army, elected the President.

In the same year, General Arthur da Costa e Silva assumed the presidency and, in December, 1968, closed the Congress and decreed the Institutional Act Number 5, the infamous AI-5, that gave him the right to close Parliament, to abolish political rights and to suppress habeas-corpus rights. In this period, armed conflicts in cities and countryside were intensified.

Also in 1968, the country was renamed from the Republic of the United States of Brazil to the Federative Republic of Brazil.

In 1969, General Emílio Garrastazu Médici became President. His government was a period of extremely strong repression, with hundreds of people being imprisoned, tortured, exiled or killed. The same period saw the "Milagre Brasileiro" - "Brazilian Miracle", with an incredible growth in the GDP.

In 1974, General Ernesto Geisel assumed the Presidency, facing major economical troubles, caused by external debt inherited from the last government, the international oil crisis, and a high inflation rate.

Geisel began a democratic opening-up that was continued by his successor, Gen. Joao Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (1979-85). Figueiredo not only permitted the return of politicians exiled or banned from political activity during the 1960s and 1970s, but also allowed them to run for state and federal offices in 1982.

The last military President was General Figueiredo, who made a smooth (and slow) transition to a democratic government, with the first free elections happening in 1984.


At the same time, an electoral college consisting of all members of congress and six delegates chosen from each state continued to choose the president. In January 1985, the electoral college voted civilian Tancredo Neves from the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) into office as President. However, Neves became ill in March and died a month later, before being sworn in. His Vice President, former Senator Jose Sarney, became President upon Neves' death. Brazil completed its transition to a popularly elected government in 1989, when Fernando Collor de Mello won 53% of the vote in the first direct presidential election in 29 years. In 1992, a major corruption scandal led to the impeachment and ultimate resignation of President Collor.

Fernando Collor de Mello, was elected in 1990 in the first direct elections since the military coup, and subsequently resigned just before being impeached in 1992. Mello also started to open Brazilian economy. His vice-president, Itamar Franco, assumed the presidency for the remainder of Collor's term culminating in the October 3, 1994 presidential elections, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso, formerly Franco's Minister of Treasury, was elected by 54% of the votes.

The third president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, started his first term in January 1 1995 and was reelected in 1998. President Cardoso has sought to establish the basis for long-term stability and growth and to reduce Brazil's extreme socioeconomic imbalances. His proposals to Congress include constitutional amendments to open the Brazilian economy to greater foreign participation and to implement sweeping reforms - including social security, government administration, and taxation - to reduce excessive public sector spending and improve government efficiency.

Although Brazil is today South America's leading economic power and the world's ninth largest economy, highly unequal income distribution, which had been at the root of political conflict throughout Brazilian history, especially during the Vargas years, remains a pressing problem. These socio-economic contradictions helped usher Lula da Silva, Brazil's first elected leftwing president, into the presidency in January 1, 2003.

President da Silva (left) with outgoing President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (right).

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