|30th President of Brazil|
15 March 1979–15 March 1985
|Vice President||Aureliano Chaves|
|Preceded by||Ernesto Geisel|
|Succeeded by||José Sarney|
|Head of the National Intelligence Service|
15 March 1974–14 June 1978
|Appointed by||Ernesto Geisel|
|Preceded by||Carlos Alberto da Fontoura|
|Succeeded by||Otávio Aguiar de Medeiros|
|Chief Minister of the Military Cabinet|
20 October 1969–March 15, 1974
|Preceded by||Jaime Portela de Melo|
|Succeeded by||Hugo de Abreu|
January 15, 1918|
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Died||December 24, 1999
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
|Resting place||St. Francis Xavier Cemetery, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Political party||ARENA (1978–1979)
|Spouse(s)||Dulce Maria de Guimarães Castro|
|Years of service||1937–1979|
João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo (Portuguese: [ˈʒwɐ̃w̃ baˈt͡ʃistɐ dʒi oliˈvejɾɐ figejˈɾedu]; 15 January 1918 – 24 December 1999) was a Brazilian military leader and politician who served as 30th President of Brazil, the last of the military regime that ruled the country following the 1964 coup d'état. He was chief of the Secret Service (SNI) during the term of his predecessor, Ernesto Geisel, who appointed him to the presidency at the end of his own mandate. He took the oath of office on March 15, 1979, serving until '15 March 1985. He continued the process of redemocratization that Geisel had started and sanctioned a law decreeing amnesty for all political crimes committed during the regime. His term was marked by a severe economic crisis and growing dissatisfaction with the military rule, culminating in the Diretas Já protests of 1984, which clamored for direct elections for the Presidency, the last of which had taken place 24 years prior. Figueiredo opposed this and in 1984 Congress rejected the immediate return of direct elections, in favor of an indirect election by Congress, which was, nonetheless won by the opposition candidate Tancredo Neves. Figueiredo retired after the end of his term and died in 1999.
João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo was the son of General Euclides de Oliveira Figueiredo, who was exiled after an attempt to topple the Estado Novo regime of Getulio Vargas in 1932. Two of his brothers were also generals. After studying at military schools of Porto Alegre and Realengo, Figueiredo was promoted to captain (1944) and to major (1952). He served in the Brazilian military mission in Paraguay (1955–1957) and worked for secret service of the Army General Staff (1959–1960). In 1961 he was transferred to the National Security Council. While teaching at the Army General Staff Command College (1961–1964), Figueiredo was promoted to colonel and appointed the department head in the National Information Service. In 1966 he assumed the command of public defense force in São Paulo. In 1967–1969 he commanded a regiment in Rio de Janeiro and was promoted to general. When General Emílio Garrastazú Médici assumed the presidency, Figueiredo was appointed head of the president's military staff (October 30, 1969 – March 15, 1974).
In 1974 he assumed the leadership of the National Intelligence Service of Brazil (March 15, 1974 – June 14, 1978), a Brazil's internal security agency. Picked by President Ernesto Geisel as his successor, Figueiredo campaigned vigorously, even though he could not possibly be defeated; the president was elected by a legislature dominated by the pro-military National Renewal Alliance Party. As expected, he won easily against the nominal opposition candidate, General Monteiro.
As president, he continued the gradual "abertura" (democratization) process instituted in 1974. An amnesty law, signed by Figueiredo on 28 August 1979, amnestied those convicted of "political or related" crimes between 1961 and 1978. In the early 1980s, the military regime could no longer effectively maintain the two-party system established in 1966. The Figueiredo administration dissolved the government-controlled National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA) and allowed new parties to be formed. In 1981 the Congress enacted a law on restoration of direct elections of state governors. The general election of 1982 brought victory to ARENA's successor, pro-government Democratic Social Party (43.22% of the vote), and to the opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (42.96%).
The governorship of three major states, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais, was won by the opposition. However, the political developments were overshadowed by economic problems. As inflation and unemployment soared, the foreign debt reached massive proportions making Brazil the world's biggest debtor owing about US$90 billion to international lenders. The austerity program imposed by the government brought no signs of recovery for the Brazilian economy until the end of Figueiredo's term. The president had a heart attack and injuries from horse riding and took two prolonged leaves for health treatment in 1981 and 1983, but the civilian vice president Antônio Aureliano Chaves de Mendonça did not enjoy major political power. The opposition vigorously struggled for passing a constitutional amendment that would allow direct popular Presidential elections in November 1984, but the proposal failed to win passage in the Congress. Opposition's candidate Tancredo Neves succeeded Figueiredo when Congress held an election for the new President. He did not return to politics, lived away from the public attention and died on 24 December 1999. After his death President Fernando Henrique Cardoso declared three days of mourning.
1978 electoral college results
- João Baptista de Oliveira Figueiredo – 355
- Euler Bentes Monteiro – 225
- Absents – 11
- "Galery of presidents" (in Portuguese). Palácio do Planalto. Retrieved 3 February 2016.
- "Governo Fernando Henrique Cardoso" (in Portuguese). Brasil Escola. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- Joao Figueiredo, military ruler who opened Brazil to democracy, dies at 81
|President of Brazil