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Emílio Garrastazu Médici

His Excellency
Emílio Garrastazu Médici
28th President of Brazil
In office
October 30, 1969 – March 15, 1974
Vice President Augusto Rademaker
Preceded by Military Junta of 1969
Succeeded by Ernesto Geisel
Head of the National Intelligence Service
In office
March 15, 1967 – October 14, 1969
Nominated by 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, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party National Renewal Alliance Party – ARENA
Spouse(s) Scila Nogueira
Children Sérgio
Profession Military
Military service
Allegiance Brazil
Service/branch Brazilian Army
Years of service 1927–1969
Rank 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: ; December 4, 1905 —October 9, 1985) was a Brazilian military leader and politician. His characteristically authoritarian rule from 1969 to 1974 marked the apex of the military dictatorship in Brazil.


  • Early life 1
  • Presidency 2
    • Nixon, Allende, and Castro 2.1
  • See also 3
  • References 4

Early life

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. From his mother's side he was descended from a Basque family. In the 1920s he entered in the Army where he was steadily promoted, becoming general in 1961.

Médici was a close ally of Marshal Artur da Costa e Silva, who became president of Brazil in 1967. Also in this year Médici was appointed chief of the National Information Service (SNI).


Two years later he become commandant of the Third Army and was chosen to become president of Brazil by the Military High Command, succeeding Costa e Silva, who had suffered a stroke. As the president was elected by a legislature dominated by the pro-military National Renewal Alliance Party, his election was a foregone conclusion. Médici took oath on October 30, 1969 and served until the end of his term, March 15, 1974.

During his tenure, Médici established a strong military dictatorship, arguably the most repressive of Brazil's military regimes. He ruled under a constitution which had been amended a few months earlier to be even more repressive than its predecessor already had been. His regime made liberal use of torture and strict press censorship. During his rule a guerilla movement led by Carlos Marighela and Carlos Lamarca was destroyed and Marighela and Lamarca killed.[1]

The Brazilian economy grew rapidly at a rate of 10% per year during his term. 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 administration.

Official censorship tightened its grip over the media, and the 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”.[3]

Nixon, Allende, and Castro

President Médici meeting with Richard Nixon at the White House.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon and Médici discussed coordinating their efforts to overthrow Cuba's Fidel Castro and Chile's Salvador Allende.[4] 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.[4]

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."[4] The memo notes that Nixon and Médici also discussed whether Cuba should have readmission to the 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.[4]

See also


  1. ^ di Tella, Torcuato (2004). History of Political Parties in Twentieth-Century Latin America. New Brunswick, US: Transaction. p. 107. 
  2. ^ Brazil: Raising the Ransom Price, TIME Magazine, December 21, 1970
  3. ^ Brazil: No Nudes Is..., TIME Magazine, April 30, 1973
  4. ^ a b c d Memo: Nixon, Brazil Dictator Discussed Bid to Overthrow Castro, Allende by Juan O. Tamayo, The Miami Herald, August 18, 2009
Political offices
Preceded by
Military Junta of 1969
President of Brazil
Succeeded by
Ernesto Geisel
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