Military Wiki
Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco
26th President of Brazil

In office
April 15, 1964 – March 15, 1967
Vice President José Maria Alkmin
Preceded by Pascoal Ranieri Mazzilli
Succeeded by Artur da Costa e Silva
Personal details
Born (1897 -09-20)September 20, 1897
Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
Died July 18, 1967(1967-07-18) (aged 69)
Messejana, Ceará, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party None
Religion Roman Catholicism

Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco (Portuguese pronunciation: [ũˈbɛʁtu dʒi alẽˈkaʁ kasˈtɛlu ˈbɾɐ̃ku]; September 20, 1897 – July 18, 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

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 Grande do Sul), 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 former President Castelo Branco in Fortaleza.

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


  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. 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". 18 July 1967. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  6. 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. 

External links

See also

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

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