The military time in Brazil started in March 31 of 1964. And continued until 1985, more than twenty years on power of the army. What happened in all those years, why did it happen? All the questions will be answered, on this interview of Miguel and Marcelo. Both lived in the same time period, however they were in differents moments of their lives, one was a doctor building a family, the other one was just born. This essay will explore the differents points of view of this dictatorship, as some people call this period. To better explain what happening let’s go back to the nineteen sixties. The Military Coup (Golpe Militar) as they call today. The biggest reason for that to happen was to stop the public manifestations of the President at that time, Joao Goulart, who were accused of being communist.
The ignition point was the resignation of President Jânio Quadros on August 25, 1961. The National Congress temporarily installed the mayor, Deputy Ranieri Mazzili, because the vice-president was on a trip to China. While Joao Goulart was on his way back, the military ministers vetoed Joao’s inauguration, arguing that he was advocating leftist ideas. The impediment violated the Constitution, and was not accepted by several segments of the nation, which began to mobilize. Manifestations and strikes spread through the country. Faced with the threat of civil war, the proposal of a Constitutional Amendment was made in Congress, establishing the parliamentary regime in Brazil. In that way, Goulart would be president, but with limited powers.
Jango (Joao Goulart nickname) accepted the reduction of his powers, hoping to retrieve it in a timely manner. The Congress voted in favor of the measure and Goulart took office on September 7, 1961. In order to take the position of prime minister was appointed by a deputy.
Parliamentarism lasted until January 1963, when a plebiscite put an end to the short republican parliamentary period.Inflation reached in 1963, the rate of 73.5%. The president demanded a new constitution that would destroy the “archaic structures” of Brazilian society. The communists of various tendencies, developed intense work of organization and popular mobilization, although they act in the illegality. Faced with mounting turmoil, government opponents accelerated the coup.
On March 31, 1964, the president was deposed, and the forces that tried to resist the coup suffered harsh repression. On April 9, Institutional Act No. 1 was decreed, empowering Congress to elect the new president. The chosen one was General Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco, who had been chief of the army staff. After the 1964 coup, the political model aimed at strengthening executive power.
Seventeen institutional acts and about a thousand exceptional laws were imposed on Brazilian society. In economic terms, the military tried to recover the country’s credibility with foreign capital. Among the military, however, there was disagreement. The more radical group, known as the “Linha Dura,” pressured the Castelo Branco group so that it would not admit dissatisfaction and remove civilians from the core of political decisions.Internal differences between the military influenced the choice of the new general president.This is the newspaper, which circulated all around the country, it says on the top corner ” Goulart runned away and the democracy is being restored” and the main topic is ” Mazzilli is on duty to be president” that explains what is going in the middle of the country, which the newspaper and all information channels will change. The change came shortly after those incidents. Those changes were quite simple, the only way to publish something was by getting the approval of the government.
In Miguel’s interview he clearly remember on all the government’s censure: “Every newspaper you opened (Legal) you would see something like a stamp on the last page, with the date it was authorized…” Another topic he approached was that a lot of singers and actors run away from the country. “Every time we would watch television or watch a movie, before it starts, there was a government approval, like a commercial” as Miguel stated. Plenty of singers, the smarter ones. In their lyrics, they used to do an implicit argument against the government, like saying they felt like birds in a cage or that they were mute singers. As the interview went on, he talked about other things he believe it was wrong during that period, “they took it of all the political parties”, Miguel said in a moment that I could not say if he thought that it was all bad. Them the follow question, could you vote to choose who were in power, because every dictatorship you could not vote. He explained it was confusing, at first you could not vote on the president. Than it followed couple years later you could not vote for either the vice president or the governor.
For those public jobs, there was an indirect voting. So you could not vote to who were the president. A small number of “important people” would decide on your behalf.
In all that time we had five different presidents. Also in the government, they started to expedite the “constitutional amendments” or AI in portuguese. He also remember some of his close friends that were caught by the government when trying to do an opposition to them. It happen all the way to the end end of the military time. Miguel claims ” Plenty of my friends were killed, the government say they did not capture those people, but we all know they did!” he also says that everyone who went against the government knew what they were doing, “So, that is why I was never filiated to any kind of illegal activity to go against the mainstream, I was more focused on bringing the supplies to my family and it was a moment that you needed to do what made more sense” when he meant illegal activities, was saying that every group of people that were against the government were called that. So basicly you could not be against, that is why the military peoiple stayed so much time in power, every little group they would just cut it off.
By all means. If you were not happy, people knew they ahd to go other place. The extremists groups were as dangerous as the government, ” I knew some people that went to Cuba, not on vacation, but to train the art of war” and Miguel went on “Those people who went there to learn that kind of subject, on how to torture people… they are the worst on society, they could not do it peacefully, a lot of problems occur during that time, even to kidnap or make a robbery to say it was in prol of the movement”. So those people that did crimes in the name of the movement were called terrorists. He remember a curious fact, one of Brazil’s last president was a terrorist who committed serious crimes, such as kidnapping, bombing, robbery… This is a picture of Brazil’s former president, when she was arrested. She was on power of the government for six years, and she was impeached, due taxes problems. The main purpose was that she robbed a lot while she was in power.
Their government power last fourteen years, and during that happened so many weird things, the most famous was a airplane fall with the politic that was ahead of her in the last election. Some part of the media said that his airplane was sabotaged, but no concrete evidence was found. “I just don’t know on how people could still vote for her, it was like fight fire with gasoline in your hand” Miguel comments on the voters of Dilma and on how the terrorists acted during that time period.
The military coup happened to be against the communist party that was getting power, brazil since the italian regime of Mussolini, part of the politics and people had a great tendency of getting close to their ideas. Something that happened was in the beginning of the second world war, Brazil like the United States stayed neutral to both sides, however Brazil is still had a good political affairs with Italy. During the war, when the USA joined, Brazil congress decided to support their American friend. This clearly shows how broken the people were. Plenty of people have their heirs from the Italian country. It was created during that time period plenty of parties, which stayed in power for a long time, the problem was that their goals changed in process. “The real reason that the military people got in power it was not to protect their country or the people in it, it was to protect their ideas.” Miguel on explaining why would the arm interfere on the government, on how military people without any experience on the governing.
As the Miguel interview went along I was talking with Marcelo (that was born in the military dictatorship) reflecting on the good part, don’t get wrong Miguel truly believe if you put the weights, this period, it would get almost fifty-fifty. The only difference was if you were against the movement or not. If you were you would say it sucked, if you were in the midle of both sides, you would put in balance. Marcelo remember a really interesting fact, “When I was young, I used to surf in a beach that had in the far point a military base, if you invade, even through the water and surfing they would warn you only one time, the next time they would simply shot at you” he said that couple of his friends were actually shot, but everyone knew the rules, if you break them you would be done. This bringed to the next subject, safety. Both of them said they never got robbed or were afraid of going out late at night. Marcelo even said: “At my grandmas house, where I was raised, we would never lock our house. We knew nobody would go in there, because it was very dangerous to deal with the police at that time” he even added saying it was the safest he is ever being, never worried about robbers… also that on that time he knew that if walked on the line, it was a great place to grow up.
Until he was ten or eleven he did not even know about the government. “It was a natural way of growing up, I did think it was normal to see the government logo before my cartoons”.The education was also a good point of the military period it was a good point it was free and with a good quality on the teaching. Marcelo states ” The education I got was of excellent quality, it did not even look it was a public school” this is one of the points people that support the regime. Of course, there is always something good in most of the government’s. “We always needed to sing the national anthem, every single day, so we were very patriotic country, today not anymore”. The crazy was that in the time “palmatoria” (is a kind of a stick used to hit in the palm of the hand) was legal. It makes a really high sound.
It was a good time, but the palmatorias not so much.A great point was in one of the constitutional amendments, the politics, whom were accused of corruption, could not have a habeas corpus or any political right. So if you were corrupt, you would be arrested. This subject, both of my interviewers, agreed on having this in today’s politics, the world would be different.
One of the famous books, Marcelo told me about was “Ditadura e democracia no Brasil”, the translation would be “Dictatorship and democracy in Brazil”. This book is about a different vision on the facts. This book of the author Daniel Aarão Reis, one of the many editorial releases motivated by the 50th anniversary of the military coup, stands out with the critical spirit and the assertion, without the in-depth knowledge and without debate on the social and historical foundations of the dictatorship. In the book, the balanced reconstitution of the different stages of the military regime is always punctuated by the analysis of the relationship between dictatorship and civil society, which was far from being just a relation between oppressor and oppressed, because there was more than one dictatorship, and within each there were conflicting civilian and military forces and interests. The point he also approaches that on dictatorship you are not allowed to go to Disneyland. Marcelo remembered one of his childhood nickname was “Mickey”, he was only one in the whole neighborhood to go to Disney World. Also on reflecting the book, Daniel Aarão Reis reaffirms the independence of his analysis in several themes, contrary to the official memory of the terrorists or oppositors to the government .
For example, he asserts that it is a mistake to overestimate the external role (the American support) in the coup process, whose success must be attributed only to the broad social alliance between civilians and the military. At another time, he states “It is undeniable that the military and civil coup was undertaken under defensive banners. Not to build a new regime. What the majority wanted was to save democracy, family, … “.
It also emphasizes that the dictatorship has not only repressed, tortured and killed, but also led to a process of accelerated “conservative modernization” of the country’s economy and administration, with a national-statist project that has been unfolding to this day and is therefore a misnomer her to an archaic Brazil.Marcelo remembers in his tenth birthday he went to visit the capital of the country, the newly built Brasilia (it was a plan pilot, it was created in 1969). “It was like going to a city of the future”. He said that with such color on his eyes. In the end of the interview he did a statement that clearly explained everything, every memory, individual or collective, is to some extent selective and fabricated. 50 years after the coup, seeing the dictatorship as a black-and-white conflict between gangsters and good guys is a sign of intellectual lazyness, which only serves those who supported the coup, who benefited from the dictatorship, who financed the repression, who celebrated in the tranquility of the home the acts of exception. If the military were the only culprits, civil society was acquitted, leaving to posterity the convenient image that all were always oppositionists and heroes of resistance or who were extremely against.
This shows how much our memories can change and on how people from different, however so similar backgrounds can have so diferent ideas. Such as in the beginning sectors of society, such as the middle class and the Catholic Church, feared the advance of the communist movement, in which the president sought more and more support. Landowners were concerned about agrarian reform and the tension it could generate in the countryside. Multinational companies felt hurt by the limits imposed on the remittance of profits abroad. The military also went on to point out the danger that popular mobilizations represented for democracy, by subverting order and peace.The brief explanation on how it ended, in 1974, a new government took over promising democracy, just like all previous ones.
The “slow, gradual and secure” opening, which was to end only in 1985 with the election of the “first” president voted directly since the coup, envisaged several important measures, such as the suspension of censorship and exception legislation, the return of multiparty and amnesty policy.In all of them, the government has always seek to maintain control over the opening process, in a policy of advances and setbacks that aimed to give the military a politically comfortable position in the approaching democratic regime.However, the strikes of the metallurgists in São Paulo, the mobilization by amnesty brought general and unrestricted and the campaign by Diretas Já! (Direct Now) were some examples of which society was willing to contest the official project. Opposition, within and outside the Congress, sought to widen the limits of openness by taking the political initiative on sensitive issues such as living conditions, work conditions, crimes committed by repression, and citizenship rights, such as law, to direct voting.