Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco

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Castelo Branco
26th President of Brazil
In office
April 15, 1964 – March 15, 1967
Vice President José Maria Alkmin (1964-1967)
Preceded by Ranieri Mazzilli
Succeeded by Artur da Costa e Silva
Chief of the General Staff of the Army
In office
September 13, 1963 – April 14, 1964
Preceded by José Machado Lopes
Succeeded by Décio Palmeiro Escobar
Personal details
Born Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco
(1897-09-20)September 20, 1897
Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
Died July 18, 1967(1967-07-18) (aged 69)
Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
Resting place Castelo Branco Mausoleum, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party ARENA (1966–67)
Argentina Vianna
(m. 1942; d. 1963)
Children 2
Military service
Allegiance Brazil Brazil
Service/branch Coat of arms of the Brazilian Army.svg Brazilian Army
Years of service 1921–1964
Rank Marechal.gif 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)

Second World War

Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco (Portuguese pronunciation: [ũ'bɛʁtu dʒi alẽ'kaʁ kas'tɛlu 'bɾɐ̃ku]) (20 September 1897 – 18 July 1967) was a Brazilian military leader and politician. He served as the first President of the Brazilian military government after the 1964 military coup d'etat. Castelo Branco was killed in an aircraft collision in July 1967, soon after the end of his Presidency.

Family background[edit]

Castelo Branco was born in a wealthy Northeastern Brazilian family. His father, Cândido Borges Castelo Branco, was a general. His mother, Antonieta Alencar Castelo Branco, came from a family of intellectuals (which included the writer José de Alencar).

He was married to Argentina Vianna, and had two children, Nieta and Paulo.[1]

Military career[edit]

Castelo Branco joined the Brazilian Army in 1918. He was a student at the Escola Militar de Realengo military school in Rio de Janeiro, and 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.

Castelo Branco was promoted to 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.

Subsequently Castelo Branco wrote many 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[edit]

Castelo Branco became one of the leaders of the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état that overthrew Goulart and ended the Second Brazilian Republic. On April 11, Congress chose him to serve out the remainder of Goulart's term and he took the oath of office on April 15, 1964.

Inauguration of Castelo Branco 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 Emperor Pedro II of Brazil in 1889, ended the Brazilian Empire and established the First Brazilian Republic.

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. He was otherwise committed to permitting normal political activities while carrying out reform through legislation. In March 1965 municipal elections were held as planned.[2] Castelo Branco had every intention of turning over power to a civilian president when his term was due to run out in 1966.[3][4] However, the hard-line officers within the regime (known as linha-dura) with the support of War Minister Artur da Costa e Silva, wanted to stay in power for a greater period of time in order to achieve their political goals.[3][4] Events reached a breaking point in October 1965, when opposition candidates won the governorships of the major states of Minas Gerais and Guanabara. Hard-liners demanded that Castelo Branco annul the results, but he refused. Another coup was averted after Costa e Silva persuaded hard-liners to recognize the election results in return for Castelo Branco's promise to implement a tougher policy.

Opening of the Friendship Bridge, between Brazil and Paraguay, by Presidents Castelo Branco (left) and Alfredo Stroessner, 27 March 1965.

Thereafter, Castelo Branco dropped all pretense of democracy. On October 27, 1965 he issued the Second Institutional Act, which abolished all existing political parties, restored his emergency powers, and extended his term to 1967. The numerous political 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 drafted a highly authoritarian constitution.

Castelo Branco issued many repressive laws, most notably a highly draconian press law (Lei de Imprensa) near the end of his term.[5] This law continued to be valid in Brazil until 2009, when it was struck down by Brazil’s Supreme Federal Court.[6]

He was succeeded in Presidency by Costa e Silva on March 15, 1967.

Castelo Branco promoted government intervention into the economy (e.g., shutting down by decree the country's flag carrier, Panair do Brasil). Castelo Branco’s government, unlike 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 in Latin America during the Cold War.[7]


Mausoleum of Castelo Branco in his native Fortaleza, northeastern Brazil
Castelo Branco statue in Barroso, southeastern Brazil

Four months after leaving the Presidency, Castelo Branco died in a midair collision of small aircraft near Fortaleza.[8][9]


Foreign honours[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Dulles, John W. F. (1978). Castelo Branco: The Making of a Brazilian President. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press. ISBN 0-89096-043-7. 
  2. ^ Humberto Castelo Branco Facts
  3. ^ a b "As duas fases do governo Castello Branco (1964-1967) - I" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2015-11-14. 
  4. ^ a b "As duas fases do governo Castello Branco (1964-1967) - II" (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2015-11-14. 
  5. ^ Some Unpleasant Business, Time Magazine, January 13, 1967
  6. ^ Victory as federal supreme court repeals dictatorship era press law Archived 2009-07-02 at the Portuguese Web Archive, Reporters Without Borders, May 1, 2009
  7. ^ BRAZIL Toward Stability, Time Magazine, December 31, 1965
  8. ^ "Castelo Branco of Brazil Killed in Plane Collision". The New York Times. 18 July 1967. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Skidmore, Thomas E. (1988). The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-85. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 72. ISBN 9780195362626. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  10. ^ a b "Cidadãos Estrangeiros Agraciados com Ordens Portuguesas". Página Oficial das Ordens Honoríficas Portuguesas. Retrieved 4 April 2017. 
  11. ^ "RESSALTADA A AMIZADE FRANÇA–BRASIL". Correio da Manhã. 14 October 1964. Retrieved 3 April 2017. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
José Machado Lopes
Chief of the General Staff of the Army
Succeeded by
Décio Palmeiro Escobar
Political offices
Preceded by
Ranieri Mazzilli
President of Brazil
Succeeded by
Costa e Silva