Emílio Garrastazu Médici

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His Excellency General
Emílio Garrastazu Médici
Garrastazu médici.jpg
28th President of Brazil
In office
October 30, 1969 – March 15, 1974
Vice President Augusto Rademaker (1969-1974)
Preceded by Military Junta of 1969
Succeeded by Ernesto Geisel
Head of the National Intelligence Service
In office
March 17, 1967 – March 28, 1969
President Artur da Costa e Silva
Preceded by Golbery do Couto e Silva
Succeeded by Carlos Alberto da Fontoura
Personal details
Born (1905-12-04)December 4, 1905
Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Died October 9, 1985(1985-10-09) (aged 79)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Resting place São João Batista Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA)
Spouse(s) Scylla Nogueira
Children 2
Profession Military
Military service
Allegiance Brazil Brazil
Service/branch Coat of arms of the Brazilian Army.svg Brazilian Army
Years of service 1927–1969
Rank General do Exército.gif Army General
  • Preparation Center of the Reserve Officers (CPOR) to Porto Alegre (1953–57)
  • 4th Cavalry Division, based in Campo Grande (1961–63)
  • Military Academy of the Black Needles (1963–64)
  • Third Army, in Rio Grande do Sul (1969)

Emílio Garrastazu Médici, (Portuguese pronunciation: [eˈmilju ɡɐʁastaˈzu ˈmɛd(ʒi)si]; December 4, 1905 – October 9, 1985), was a Brazilian military leader and politician who was President of Brazil from 1969 to 1974. His authoritarian rule marked the apex of the Brazilian military government.

Early life[edit]

Médici was born in Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul state. From his father's side, he was the grandson of Italian immigrants who went to Uruguay and then moved to Brazil. On his mother's side he descended from Basques. In the 1920s he entered military school at Porto Alegre and then the Army where he was steadily promoted, becoming general in 1961.

Throughout the 1950s he served as a commander of reserve forces before being appointed chief of staff to Artur da Costa e Silva from 1957 to 1960. After the military coup Médici became Brazil's military attache to the USA from 1964-1966. In 1967 Médici was appointed chief of the National Intelligence Service of Brazil.

Presidency (1969-1974)[edit]

In 1969 he became commander of the Third Army and was chosen to become President of Brazil by the Brazilian Military Junta of 1969, succeeding Costa e Silva, who had suffered a stroke. As the President was elected by National Congress, it had to be re-convened for this purpose after being dismissed by Costa de Silva. The legislature, dominated by the pro-military National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA), elected him by a margin of 313-0, with 56 abstentions. Médici took the oath on October 30, 1969 and served until the end of his term on March 15, 1974.

"Brazil: love it or leave it." Slogan during Médici's government.

Médici ruled under a 1967 Constitution which had been amended a few months earlier to be even more repressive than its predecessor. His regime made liberal use of torture and strict press censorship. Import of the men's magazines Playboy, Penthouse and Lui, as well as the West German news magazine Der Spiegel, was banned because they offended "morality and proper behavior".[1]

Nevertheless, Médici was popular, as his term was met with the largest economic growth of any Brazilian President, the Brazilian Miracle unfolded, authored jointly by his liberal ministers ahead of the Ministério do Planejamento and Ministério da Fazenda (planning and finances) Roberto Campos and Delfim Netto, and the country won the 1970 Football World Cup. In 1971 Médici presented the First National Development Plan aimed at increasing the rate of economic growth especially in the remote Northeast and Amazon basin.

During the Brazilian Miracle economy grew rapidly at a rate of 10% per year and inflation was kept relatively low in comparison to the stratospheric levels during the governments before the implementation of the military regime. Large construction projects were undertaken, including the Trans-Amazonian Highway, the Itaipu Dam and Rio–Niterói bridge. On the other side, the economic growth benefited mainly the richer classes — by the end of 1970, the official minimum wage went down to US$40/month, and the more than one-third of the Brazilian workforce whose wages were tied to it lost about 50% of their purchasing power in relation to 1960 levels[2] at the end of Juscelino Kubitscheck's administration.

Brazilian Miracle caused such an impact that even former president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva(2002-2008), notorious labour leader of the Workers Party(PT) and anti "neoliberal" policies, openly exhalt it, for example in the occasion of an interview Lula implied:

"There's a paradox that the left may not have comprehended in Brazil, that Médici, who was the hardest president from the military regime, was possibly also one of the most popular presidents of the Military Regime, and the reason is that in the seventies it was the peak of the Brazilian Miracle. The job market was crazy good, it was crazy good. Workers were at the door of Wolkswagen looking for a job(sic) when a bus of another company would pass by inviting them to go to the other company to have a major income. In my opinion if there was an election and Médici was candidate at that time he would've won easily".[3][4]

In November 1970 federal, state, and municipal elections were held. Most of the seats were won by ARENA candidates. In 1973, the electoral college was created and in January 1974 General Ernesto Geisel was elected to be the next President.

Years of Lead and torture[edit]

During his rule guerrilla movement led by Carlos Marighela, leader of Ação Libertadora Nacional and Carlos Lamarca was mostly destroyed and Marighela and Lamarca killed.[5] Revolutionary Movement 8th October was suppressed and Araguaia Guerrilla War won.

In the 1980s, the Catholic vicariate of São Paulo and Protestant ministers obtained thousands of classified documents that detailed the use of torture during Médici’s term. These revelations shocked Brazilians who had been unaware of the extensive use of torture.[6]

Nixon, Allende, and Castro[edit]

President Médici meeting with Richard Nixon at the White House, 7 December 1971.
1972 Paraguayan commemorative stamp.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon and Médici discussed coordinating their efforts to overthrow Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chile's Salvador Allende.[7] National security advisor Henry Kissinger's account of the December 9, 1971, White House visit by Médici was written "for the president's file" and classified Top Secret. It was declassified on September 4, 2008, and made public in July as part of a State Department publication on U.S. foreign policy.[7]

Kissinger's memo shows that it was Nixon who raised the subject of Allende during the meeting, asking for Médici's views on Chile: "Médici said Allende would be overthrown". [Nixon] then asked whether Médici thought that the Chilean armed forces were capable of overthrowing Allende. Médici replied that he felt that they were, and [he] made clear that Brazil was "working towards this end."[7] The memo notes that Nixon and Médici also discussed whether Cuba should have readmission to the Organization of American States. For his part, Médici noted that Peru was trying to persuade the OAS to consider readmitting Cuba and asked Nixon how they should cooperate to oppose the move. Nixon said he would study the issue and reply to Médici "privately." The OAS voted to lift sanctions on Cuba in 1974.[7]


Upon leaving the presidency, Médici retired from public life. He declared himself against the political amnesty enacted in August 1979 during the administration of João Figueiredo. Médici was succeeded by General Ernesto Geisel on March 15, 1974.


Médici died of kidney failure on 9 October 1985 at the age of 79 after suffering a stroke. His body was buried in the São João Batista Cemetery in Rio de Janeiro.


Foreign honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Brazil: No Nudes Is...", TIME Magazine, April 30, 1973
  2. ^ "Brazil: Raising the Ransom Price", TIME Magazine, December 21, 1970
  3. ^ Folha de S.Paulo. "Lula elogia governo Médici". Folha de São Paulo (in Portuguese). Retrieved July 8, 2018. 
  4. ^ Politica na Rede (September 5, 2015). "Em vídeo, Lula diz que Brasil viveu o 'auge do milagre' no Regime Militar e que Médici seria eleito se disputasse eleições; veja". Política na Rede/Unknown TV report author (in Portuguese). Retrieved July 8, 2018. 
  5. ^ di Tella, Torcuato (2004). History of Political Parties in Twentieth-Century Latin America. New Brunswick, US: Transaction. p. 107. 
  6. ^ Get to Know a Brazilian – Emílio Garrastazu Médici
  7. ^ a b c d Juan O. Tamayo, "Memo: Nixon, Brazil Dictator Discussed Bid to Overthrow Castro, Allende", The Miami Herald, August 18, 2009.
  8. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 5 April 2017. 
  9. ^ "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 5 April 2017. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Military Junta of 1969
President of Brazil
Succeeded by
Ernesto Geisel