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João Goulart
MO 63.2240.2 - Photograph of João Goulart President of the Republic of Brazil (cropped).jpg
Goulart in 1961
President of Brazil
In office
8 September 1961 – 1 April 1964
Prime Minister Tancredo Neves
Brochado da Rocha
Hermes Lima
Vice President None
Preceded by Ranieri Mazzilli (interim)
Succeeded by Ranieri Mazzilli (interim)
Vice President of Brazil
In office
31 January 1956 – 25 August 1961
President Juscelino Kubitschek
Jânio Quadros
Preceded by Café Filho
Succeeded by José Maria Alkmin
Member of the Chamber of Deputies
In office
23 February 1954 – 3 February 1955
Constituency Rio Grande do Sul
In office
23 March 1952 – 18 June 1953
Constituency Rio Grande do Sul
In office
11 March 1951 – 25 March 1951
Constituency Rio Grande do Sul
Minister of Labour, Industry and Trade
In office
18 June 1953 – 23 February 1954
President Getúlio Vargas
Preceded by José de Segadas Viana
Succeeded by Hugo de Araújo Faria
President of the Brazilian Labour Party
In office
20 May 1952 – 19 May 1965
Preceded by Dinarte Dornelles
Succeeded by Lutero Vargas
Secretary of the Interior and Justice of Rio Grande do Sul
In office
31 January 1951 – 23 March 1952
Governor Ernesto Dornelles
Preceded by Oscar Carneiro da Fontoura
Succeeded by Egídio Michaelsen
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul
In office
10 March 1947 – 31 January 1951
Constituency At-large
Personal details
João Belchior Marques Goulart

(1919-03-01)1 March 1919
São Borja, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Died 6 December 1976(1976-12-06) (aged 57)
Mercedes, Corrientes, Argentina
Cause of death
Resting place Cemitério Jardim da Paz
São Borja, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Political party PTB (1946–1965)
Maria Teresa Fontela
(m. 1955)
Children João Vicente Goulart (b. 1956)
Denise Goulart (b. 1957)

João Belchior Marques Goulart (1 March 1919 – 6 December 1976), commonly known as Jango, was a Brazilian politician who served as the 24th president of Brazil until a military coup d'état deposed him on 1 April 1964. He was considered the last left-wing president of Brazil until Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva took office in 2003.


João Goulart was nicknamed Jango ([ˈʒɐ̃ɡu]), a common nickname for João in the south of Brazil. The Jânio Quadros–João Goulart presidential bid was thus called Jan–Jan ([ʒɐ̃.ʒɐ̃], an amalgamation of Jânio and Jango.

His childhood nickname was Janguinho (little Jango). Years later, when he entered politics, he was supported and advised by Getúlio Vargas, and his friends and colleagues started to call him Jango. In his informality and affection, Getúlio Vargas also called him Janguinho.

His grandfather, Belchior Rodrigues Goulart, descended from Portuguese immigrants from the Azores who arrived in Rio Grande do Sul in the second half of the 18th century. There were at least three immigrants with the surname Govaert (latter adapted to Goulart or Gularte in Portuguese) of Flemish-Azorean origins in the group of first Azoreans established in the state.

It is believed that Goulart’s family have Azorean ascendency, while it is possible that his family came from France.

Early life

Goulart was born at Yguariaçá Farm, in Itacurubi, São Borja, Rio Grande do Sul, on 1 March 1919. His parents were Vicentina Marques Goulart, a housewife, and Vicente Rodrigues Goulart, an estancieiro (a rancher who owned large rural properties) who had been a National Guard colonel fighting on the side of Governor Borges de Medeiros during the 1923 Revolution. Most sources indicate that João was born in 1918, but his birth year is actually 1919; his father ordered a second birth certificate adding a year to his son's age so that he could attend the law school at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul.

João grew up as a skinny boy in Yguariaçá along with his six sisters, Eufrides, Maria, Nair, Yolanda, Cila, and Neuza. Both of his younger brothers died prematurely. Rivadávia (born 1920) died of Meningitis in childhood, and Ivan (born 1925), to whom he was deeply attached, died of leukemia at 33.

João left for the nearby town of Itaqui, because his father Vicente wished to form a partnership with Protásio Vargas, Getúlio's brother, after both leased a small refrigerator house in Itaqui from an English businessman. While Vicente ran the business for the following years, João attended the School of the Teresian Sisters of Mary, along with his sisters. Although it was a mixed-sex school during the day, he could not stay overnight at the boarding school with his sisters; he had to sleep at the house of couple of English people, friends of his family. It was in Itaqui that João developed a taste for both football and swimming.

Upon his return to São Borja, ending his experience as a partner in the refrigerator house, Vicente sent João to the Ginásio Santana, run by the Marist Brothers in Uruguaiana. João attended first to fourth grade in the Santana boarding school, but failed to be approved for the fifth grade in 1931. Angry with his son's poor achievements at school, Vicente sent him to attend the Colégio Anchieta in Porto Alegre. In the state capital, João lived at a pension with friends Almir Palmeiro and Abadé dos Santos Ayub, the latter of whom was very attached to him.

Aware of João's football skills at school, where he played the right-back position, Almir and Abadé convinced him to try out for Sport Club Internacional. João was selected for the club's juvenile team. In 1932, he became a juvenile state champion. That same year, he finished the third grade of the ginásio (high school) at Colégio Anchieta, with an irregular academic record that would be repeated when he attended the law school at Rio Grande do Sul Federal University. João graduated from high school at Ginásio Santana after being sent back to Uruguaiana.

As a businessman, he built his fortune between 1941 and 1945, making loans at the National Bank of Commerce, Bank of Rio Grande do Sul and Bank of Brazil, using as collateral all the cattle he had. With this he generated a fortune in cattle, in 1946, of US$506,630.001. Despite ascending to this position, he was a kind man with his employees and humble with those in need, and he did not accept any kind of discrimination.

Political career

Sent back to Porto Alegre after graduating from high school, Goulart attended law school to satisfy his father, who desired that he earn a degree. While there, Goulart restored contact with his youth friends Abadé Ayub and Salvador Arísio and made new friends. Because of the paralysis of his knee (caused by an infection), Goulart graduated separately from the rest of his class in 1939. He would never fully practice law.

After graduating, Goulart returned to São Borja. According to Yolanda Goulart, his depression because of the leg problem was visible. He isolated himself at Yguariaçá Farm. According to his sister Yolanda, his depression did not last long. In the early 1940s, he decided to make fun of his own walking disability in the Carnival, participating in the parade of the block Comigo Ninguém Pode.

Beginning at PTB

Goulart's father died in 1943, and he inherited rural properties that made him one of the most influential estancieiros of the region. Upon the resignation of President Getúlio Vargas and his return to São Borja in October 1945, Goulart was already a wealthy man. He did not need to enter politics to rise socially, but the frequent meetings with Vargas, a close friend of his father, were decisive in Goulart's pursuit of a public life.

The first invitation Goulart received to enter a political party was made by Protásio Vargas, Getúlio's brother, who was in charge of organizing the Social Democratic Party (Partido Social Democrático – PSD) in São Borja. Goulart declined but later accepted Getúlio Vargas's invitation to join the Brazilian Labour Party (Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro – PTB). He was the first president of the local PTB, and would later become the statewide, then national, president of the party.

In 1947, Getúlio Vargas convinced Goulart to run for a seat in the state assembly. He was elected with 4,150 votes, becoming the fifth-most of 23 deputies. He received more votes than had his future brother-in-law Leonel Brizola, another rising star of the PTB, who was married to Goulart's sister Neusa until her death in 1993. Goulart was not an active member of the assembly, only discoursing once on the defensive interests of small cattle farmers in São Borja. He soon became a confidant and political protégé of Vargas, becoming one of the party members who most insistently urged him to launch a presidential candidacy for the 1950 elections. On 18 April 1950, Goulart launched Vargas's candidacy for president and, in the next day, a birthday party was held for the former president at Granja São Vicente, which was owned by Goulart.

In 1950, Goulart was elected to the Chamber of Deputies. He received 39,832 votes, second-most in the PTB in Rio Grande do Sul, and took office as a deputy in February 1951. He soon became secretary of the interior and a justice in the administration of Governor Ernesto Dornelles. During his time as secretary, which lasted until 7 March 1952, Goulart restructured the prison system to improve the living conditions of prisoners. He later resigned his job as secretary, at the request of Vargas, to help the president with a political deadlock at the ministry of labor, using his influence on the labor-union movement.

Minister of Labor

In 1953, after becoming aggravated with the deadlock, Vargas appointed Goulart minister of labor. The Vargas administration was in a deep crisis; the workers, unsatisfied with their low wages, were promoting strikes, and the right-wing party National Democratic Union (União Democrática Nacional – UDN) was mobilizing a coup d'état among the mass media, the upper-middle class, and the military forces.

As he took office, Goulart replied to accusations from several newspapers, including The New York Times. As minister of labor, Goulart held the first Brazilian Congress of Social Security. He signed a series of decrees favoring social security, such as housing financing, regulation of loans by the Institute of Retirement and Pensions of Bank Employees (Instituto de Aposentadoria e Pensões dos Bancários – IAPB), and recognizing the employees of the Audit Committee of the Institute of Retirement and Pensions of Industry Employees (Conselho Fiscal do Instituto de Aposentadoria e Pensões dos Industriários).

In his time in the ministry, as witnessed by Hugo de Faria, João Goulart was willing to wear out his prestige with the Minister of Finance in defense of the working class. Goulart was willing to take money out of his own pocket to help anyone who asked for help, but he was " half greedy" with the public money, as his minister-administrative, Hugo de Faria, said. and elected Hugo de Faria to participate in the formalities in his place - Hugo considered him one of the "most patient men in the world" in his dealings with the general public and according to historian Jorge Ferreira: "The minister soon became known for his sincere way of not discriminating against people."

The way he received "workers, unionists and ordinary people" in his office shocked the conservative civil and military sectors, in something that mixed so much class and ethnic prejudice. As a minister, he also opted for negotiations between strikers and bosses, rather than repressive methods. In response to the accusation that he would oppose the capitalist regime, he said that he was always willing to applaud the capitalists who invested in the means of production and who legally "created wealth in a social, human and patriotic sense," but that he was against "parasitic, speculative, exorbitant and short-sighted capitalism in profit".

In late 1953, Goulart began studies for review of the minimum wage, facing two types of pressure: the mobilization of workers in larger cities to claim a readjustment of 100% that would increase the minimum wage from ₢$1,200 to ₢$2,400, and entrepreneurs' refusal to review the policy since the Eurico Gaspar Dutra administration, which allegedly contributed to the impoverishment of several segments of the Brazilian society. The business community said that it would agree to a 42% raise in the minimum wage to match the cost of living in 1951. On May Day, Vargas signed the new minimum wage into law, which was a 100% increase as demanded by the working class.

On 22 February 1954, Goulart handed his resignation letter to President Vargas, and Vargas named Hugo de Faria to succeed him in an interim manner, and resumed his term as a federal deputy, as a result of the strong reaction of the media and military against the new minimum wage.

The political crisis of the Vargas administration deepened after one of his bodyguards was involved in an assassination attempt against UDN leader Carlos Lacerda on 5 August 1954. Vargas was put under pressure by the media, which demanded his resignation. On the early morning of 24 August 1954, Vargas called Goulart to Catete Palace and handed him a document to be read only after he arrived back in Rio Grande do Sul. It was his death note Carta Testamento.

Between Vargas and the Vice Presidency

Decision to proceed

After Vargas's tragic and untimely death, from whom he received a copy of the Carta Testamento, Goulart became very depressed, thought about moving away from politics and, according to Maria Thereza, it took him two months to recover from the shock, after retreating to his resort in São Borja and taking care of business. At Vargas' funeral, Goulart declared that "We, within order and law, will know how to fight with patriotism and dignity, inspired by the example you bequeathed to us".

Goulart decided to continue in politics after receiving a letter from Oswaldo Aranha, delivered by Leonel Brizola and José Gomes Talarico. In October, Goulart participated in the legislative elections, but was defeated.

After Vargas's death, a new generation starts to make PTB grow. This generation led by Goulart turned the PTB into a party of "reformist features," in a direction that came to radicalize until 1964.

In order to gain power as President of the PTB, Goulart began to concentrate in the National Directory people loyal to him, thus transforming the PTB into one of the parties "most undemocratic and centralized in the Brazilian political framework," in the words of historian Jorge Ferreira. However, Goulart helped the party have a more consistent political and ideological profile. Goulart and the PTB also reinvented the trabalhismo for the context of their generation, more concerned with social causes.

1955 Elections and Wedding

Goulart and Maria Thereza in 1956.

Willing to hold elections in October 1955, President Café Filho tried to present, after a military suggestion, a "national union" candidate. In response to conservative groups, the PSD launched Juscelino Kubitschek as a presidential candidate. Goulart was launched as a candidate for the vice presidency, which caused controversy in conservative groups such as the Armed Forces, a feeling that increased after the support of the General Seretary of the Brazilian Communist Party Luís Carlos Prestes.

In April 1955 the party agreement was approved. Within the PTB there were dissatisfactions because of Goulart's control and fear that the coalition would provoke a military coup, but Goulart succeeded in dialogue among parties, doing things like demanding federal positions for sectors of the PTB.

Cédula presidencial brasileira de 1955
First official ballot, with candidates for president and vice president.

In an attempt to remove Kubitschek, President Café Filho told him to withdraw his candidacy, or there would be a military coup—which JK refused. Civil and military groups preached the coup. A large part of the media in Rio de Janeiro has positioned itself for legality and the Minister of War, General Henrique Teixeira Lott, has sought to keep the Armed Forces out of the crisis. Army officials spoke openly about coups in the Tribuna da Imprensa, while Aeronautics began helping Kubitschek and Goulart with the campaign.

Due to the impossibility of assuming the position as a bachelor, Goulart had to get married. However, Maria Thereza, then 17, felt insecure and took a while to accept the idea, which was already arranged. The civil ceremony took place on 14 May 1955, but it was by proxy, as a storm prevented Goulart's plane from arriving. Four days later the wedding took place at the religious, followed by a short honeymoon due to the campaign.

In the same year, Carlos Lacerda, in Congress, denounced Goulart, saying that Goulart was stockpiling weapons. However, an investigation showed that the weapons were stolen by an army officer and passed on to Lacerda. Despite the demonstrations against him, Juscelino Kubitschek was elected president of Brazil with 37% of the votes on 3 October, and Goulart was elected as vice president with more than 44% of the vote. Following this, the UDN began to fight against their inauguration.

Lott vs Luz

With Armed Forces officers in favor of an institutional breakdown, General Euclides Zenóbio da Costa issued a statement around the legality surrounding General Henrique Teixeira Lott. However, following the discipline, Lott punished Euclides for this act.

In November 1955, President Café Filho, due to a heart crisis, was replaced by Carlos Luz, who was close to conservative groups interested in the coup.

Officials in favor of the coup take over the Armed Forces and Lott joins with legalistic military in a counter coup against Carlos Luz, where they expected no bloodshed. Carlos Luz has his "impediment" fulfilled by the Deputy Chamber, thus assuming Nereu Ramos. Carlos Luz and 11 other people then went to Santos on the Tamandaré cruiser in order to establish the government there.

When Nereu was made effective, Carlos Cruz did not get support from the Governor of São Paulo Jânio Quadros, and when he realized that the leaders of Army groups were legalists, he ended the coup attempt. There were no punishments and Carlos Luz had his impediment voted. With the successful counter-coup, Lott has gained much prestige.

After leaving the hospital, Café Filho tried to return to the presidency, but has its impediment voted by Congress, which also voted for the duration of one month of the state of siege, until Kubitschek and Goulart took office on 31 January 1956.



Posse de Juscelino Kubitschek como Presidente da República e de João Goulart como Vice
Vice President Goulart (right) at the inauguration of Juscelino Kubitschek on 31 January 1956.

At the inauguration, JK, after receiving the banner and greeting the people, ordered the gates to be opened. Goulart and Kubitschek had a similar tact in contact with the humble people, but at first Kubitschek, jealous of Goulart's election result, tried to isolate him politically. but he went back, and as Hugo de Faria said, Goulart didn't want to run for president. Goulart did not allow anyone to disrespectfully speak of Kubitschek.

For his ability to negotiate with the trade union movement, Goulart was largely responsible for the political stability of the JK government. However, due to this contact, conservative groups accused him of being a strike promoter. Nevertheless, Goulart acted as a negotiator and supporter of the Kubitschek government in the union area. João Goulart used to receive union leaders in his home for meetings, which also represented a union between communists and trabalhists for the workers.

As Vice-President, João Goulart was also President of the Federal Senate of Brazil, in accordance with the 1946 Constitution. In the JK Government, the PTB occupied the ministries of Labor, Agriculture and Goulart nominated the first level of Social Security.

As a result of the counter coup, in March 1956 the Frente de Novembro was founded by Colonel Canabarro Lucas, with legalist, nationalist and left-wing military personnel, led by Lott (declared anti-communist) and with Vice-President João Goulart as "President of Honor". The group began to rival right-wing groups.

Visita vice-presidencial aos Estados Unidos
Maria Thereza, Jango, Pat Nixon, Richard Nixon and João Carlos Muniz, in 1956.

In April 1956, Goulart went to the U.S., in return for Richard Nixon's visit, where he also discussed the issue of communism which, in his view, was a matter of internal concern for Brazil, while for the United States this was a problem that concerned them both in the diplomatic and military area. After his visit to the United States, he went, with his wife, to Canada and unofficially to Europe, Mexico and Uruguay. There was an attempted military coup two weeks after the inauguration. In July 1956, he assumed the interim presidency of the Republic due to a trip by Kubitschek to Panama and left that position with his return on the 27th. Lacerda exposed another complaint against Goulart, that ended nowhere.

Economically Goulart was in favor of avoiding US dependence on foreign trade. Within the PTB, several members were expelled due to their criticism. Due to functional precariousness, subordinates of the Armed Forces began to approach the trabalhism. Despite the conservative officiality, there were nationalist officers and in 1956, the sergeants achieved their stability. Despite being in power, the PTB acted as the opposition, making open criticism of the government.

Maria Thereza Fontella Goulart
Maria Thereza Goulart.

During this time João Vicente and Denise were born. Despite his position, Goulart had no bodyguard. In contrast to his progressive views in the political field, in private life he was a traditional man, especially in the dynamics between husband and wife, making Maria Thereza have to stand out for herself. However, with the birth of his children, he became a participative and loving father, besides changing his relationship with Maria Thereza, which according to her, was when he assumed the role of husband. However, Goulart had several extramarital cases.

One year after the preventive coup, Goulart participated in the tributes to General Lott, who received a golden sword. By not allowing other officers to make political statements, Lott caused a crisis that ended with Kubitschek putting both the Frente de Novembro and the Clube da Lanterna into illegality.

In 1959, commercial relations with the USSR were resumed due to the expansion of African coffee.

At the end of the government, the economy became unstable and in the difficulty of implementing measures that would help the poorest sectors of the population, Goulart began to believe that the 1946 Constitution no longer represented social reality.

In the same year, discussions on candidacies for the next elections began. Kubitschek planned to introduce Juracy Magalhães as a candidate, planning to return after five years, but was frustrated on 5 May with the introducion of Jânio Quadros's candidacy.

In February 1959, Lott's candidacy was introduced, but Goulart considered him to be a weak candidate. However, in February 1960, the PTB homologated Marshal Lott's candidacy, with Goulart as Vice-President. For researcher Maria Celina D'Araujo, the PTB "sought a militarized democracy, through the alliance of military units, union and party..."

Due to Lott's electoral weakness, the informal candidacy "Jan-Jan", or "Jânio-Jango", appeared. Due to Quadros's threats to give up the candidacy and rumors that Brizola would stage a coup d'état, the FAB tried to invest against the institutions in the episode known as "Aragarças", which did not get adhesions and the officers went into exile abroad.

As expected, the "Jan-Jan" ticket won.


Quadros inherited a bankrupt country and in the inauguration ceremony, with his formalism, tried to mark his distance from the vice president. Quadros created a conservative ministry composed of military personnel, made moral prohibitions and in foreign policy sought to be independent, which caused sympathy from the left.

In commissions initiated to "punish acts of corruption and embezzlement of public money," Goulart was hit by investigations that pointed to him as a beneficiary of electoral propaganda and had his response denied by the president.

The PTB came to take its side of opposition and left, also approaching the PCB and due to criticism on the right and left, along with dissatisfaction with the investigations, Quadros became more and more isolated in the National Congress. The Goulart family came to live at Granja do Torto in the recently inaugurated, but still incomplete, Brasilia. In December 1960, accompanied by his advisor, journalist Raul Riff, he visited Czechoslovakia. StB (Czech intelligence) kept itself informed in detail about his government.

Visit to China

Despite reservations, Goulart accepted the invitation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Afonso Arinos to head a trade mission to China in July 1961. On a scale in the USSR, Goulart was received with honors as Head of State by Nikita Khrushchev, where he also met cosmonaut Gherman Titov, who had just carried out the mission Vostok 2 and Yuri Gagarin.

In Beijing, among other things, Goulart spoke "for the daily increase of friendship between the Brazilian and Chinese people". According to Evandro Lins e Silva, when speaking for the friendship of the two peoples, "the West saw it as a declaration of support for communism".

On his last day in the capital, Mao Tse-tung visited him at the Beijing Hotel to say goodbye, an unprecedented act. On 24 August, the Brazilian media published a letter from Goulart to President Quadros announcing the success of the mission in China. The next day, Quadros had resigned.

Quadros resignation

Quadros resigned hoping that his vice president, who was aligned with the left, would not be accepted and with that, he would remain in power. However, the National Congress accepted the resignation.

At the suggestion of Quadros, military ministers Odílio Denys (Army), Gabriel Grün Moss (Aeronautics) and Silvio Heck (Navy) formed a military junta. President of Chamber of Deputies Ranieri Mazzilli took interim office as Brazilian President and read to Congress a communiqué from military ministers in which they said Goulart would be arrested if he returned to the United States of Brazil. The military expected the National Congress to declare Goulart's impeachment which did not happen.

Due to the time zone, Goulart knew about the resignation in the early hours of 26 August. For Senator Diz-Huit Rosado, Goulart did not seem to be intimidated. When he arrived in France and learned more details, Hugo de Faria said that Goulart thought of resigning, but gave up with the attempted military coup.

Legality Campaign

"Cadeia da Legalidade" (Legality Chain)
"Legality: In August 1961, from this square, Leonel Brizola assured with the participation of the people, the respect for the constitutional legality and the maintenance of the rule of law".

On the morning of 25 August, after having confirmed the resignation of Quadros, Brizola began to act. Marshal Lott, speaking in favor of the law, was arrested-as were also several officers of the Three Forces.

With the support of some colonels and the public, Brizola starts the Legality Campaign. On the morning of the 26th, "the country dawned in an unofficial state of siege", according to Jorge Ferreira.

On the 27th, in Zurich, Goulart learned by telephone through Brizola about the threat of imprisonment, that did not withdraw his will to return. On the same day, the headquarters of the III Army announced to Brasilia the actions of Brizola, and the next day there was the risk of bombing. Brizola made a transmission announcing the visit of the commander of the III Army Machado Lopes. The military started to search airplanes throughout the country in search of Goulart.

The Legality Chain began to be transmitted throughout Brazil and abroad, despite the federal government's attempt at censorship, gaining international sympathy and national public adherence.

In Paris, on 28 August, Goulart's public statements were superficial, as he knew little about the situation in Brazil, but with the arrival of Congressman Carlos Jereissati, he decided to delay his return, sensing a civil war. By telephone, San Tiago Dantas spoke of the "possibility of the collapse of the democratic regime in Brazil" and Kubitschek gave the idea of parliamentarianism, which Goulart accepted as a non-violent option.

João Goulart e Leonel Brizola
Jango and Brizola.

In Rio Grande do Sul, Machado Lopes put the III Army in favor of legality, temporarily avoiding a civil war. In reprisal, Odílio Denys dismissed him from command.

On the 28th, Goulart was still in Paris receiving news. On 29 August, Goulart embarked from Paris to New York and on the same day the National Congress rejected his impeachment.

In Argentina, Goulart was isolated from the public and his family by the military. From there, he boarded a DC-3 to Montevideu. There, by Brizola's plan, there was a plane with national and international journalists, to prevent the army from taking him down. In "Manifesto to the Nation" on 30 August, the military ministers spoke about the "inconvenience of Jango's return to the country".

On the 31st, the risk of civil war increased, as soldiers from all over the country stood by the law and there was a risk of conflict between the forces of Brizola and the government. At Canoas Air Base insubordinate sergeants punctured the tires and disarmed the planes that would be used in the bombing of the Piratini Palace.

In the National Congress, the parliamentary amendment was put on the voting agenda. Since the resignation of Quadros, the police have reacted violently against demonstrators, with Guanabara suffering the harshest repression. In the Chamber of Deputies, deputy Adauto Lúcio Cardoso spoke in favor of impeachment of Mazilli and military ministers for crime of responsibility.

On 1 September, Tancredo Neves and others went to Uruguay to discuss with João Goulart, who kept Brizola and Lopes updated on what they discussed. According to Tancredo Neves, Goulart had resistance to parliamentarianism, but ended up accepting due to the risk of deaths. The military was against Goulart speaking to the people and Brizola going into inauguration and in the early morning of the same day, the National Congress approved the parliamentary amendment.

On the evening of the same day, a Varig plane landed at Salgado Filho airport with Goulart. Despite the desire of the population, he did not speak to the people and men from the press had resistance against the idea of accepting parliamentarianism, and the people became stressed. Despite wanting to march on Brasilia and close the National Congress, upset, Brizola accepted the decision of his brother-in-law.

Groups of FAB officers planned Operation Mosquito, which was not carried out, as an attempt to kill Goulart. The plane that transported Goulart to Brasilia flew at 11,100 meters of altitude, thus being out of range of the fighters. Goulart arrived in the capital on 5 September and took over on 7 September.

The Goulart administration

Kennedy and Goulart review troops 1962
Goulart with U.S. President John F. Kennedy during a visit to the United States in April 1962.

In his inauguration speech, he called for "unity, democracy and reform". Goulart took over the country in a military crisis, external and internal debts and powerless to carry out his reformist projects, but having a majority in the National Congress, he hoped to be successful on the basis of agreements, besides showing the unfeasibility of the new system of government.

The first cabinet, called "National Conciliation", was appointed on 8 September and with Tancredo Neves as prime minister. On 26 June 1962, the first cabinet resigned to run in the October elections. Brochado da Rocha had his appointment as prime minister approved by Congress on 10 July. Brochado resigned and Hermes Lima was sworn in on 19 September 1962.

During this period, Goulart and his prime minister chose the three-year plan as the economic plan of his government under the advisement of Celso Furtado, his minister of planning. In order to strengthen the energy sector and to foster Brazilian development, Eletrobrás, Latin America's largest power utility company, was created in 1962.

As part of the compromise that installed a parliamentary system of government in 1961, a plebiscite was set for 1963 to confirm or reverse the changes made to the constitution. The parliamentary system of government was overwhelmingly rejected in the referendum, and Goulart assumed full presidential powers.

The presidential government of Goulart initiated in 1963 was marked politically by the administration's closer ties to center-left political groups, and conflict with more conservative sectors of the society, specifically the National Democratic Union.

Goulart also led Brazil in the drive for a nuclear-free Latin America, providing the impetus for the Five Presidents' Declaration and the Treaty of Tlatelolco. Brazil's leadership on nuclear disarmament was a casualty of the military coup, and Mexico eventually stepped in to continue to drive for a nuclear-free region.

João Goulart NYWTS
Goulart during a ticker tape parade in New York City, 1962.

Basic reforms

Goulart's Basic Reforms plan (Reformas de Base) was a group of social and economic measures of nationalist character that ushered in a greater state intervention in the economy. Among the reforms were:

  • Education reform to combat adult illiteracy, with the widespread use of the pioneering teachings and method of Paulo Freire. The government also proposed to hold a university reform and prohibited the operation of private schools. Fifteen percent of Brazil's income would be directed to education.
  • Tax reform to control the transfer of profits by multinational companies with headquarters abroad, instead reinvesting profits in Brazil. The income tax would be proportional to personal profit.
  • Electoral reform to extend voting rights to illiterate people and low-ranking military officers.
  • Land reform to expropriate and redistribute non-productive properties larger than 600 hectares to the population. At that time, the agricultural population was larger than the urban population.

Cuba, 1962

KN-C20807. President John F. Kennedy Meets with President João Goulart of Brazil (cropped)
João Goulart in 1962.

With the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy sent a letter to Goulart proposing the participation of the Brazilian military in the possible invasion of the island. In response, Goulart demonstrated that he opposed this plan and instead supported the self-determination of the peoples. In a reply he stated that "we will never recognize war as an instrument capable of resolving conflicts between nations" and sent a letter to Fidel Castro with the same concerns as the US government, but standing against the invasion. With this position, Kennedy began to develop a personal hostility against Goulart and began to believe that the Brazilian president was a threat to the security of the United States.

The military coup

João Goulart e Maria Thereza Goulart no Comício da Central?
Goulart and his wife Maria Teresa during the 13 March 1964 speech

In the early hours of 31 March 1964, General Olímpio Mourão Filho, in charge of the 4th Military Region, headquartered in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, ordered his troops to start moving toward Rio de Janeiro to depose Goulart.

On 1 April, at 12:45 p.m., João Goulart left Rio for the capital, Brasília, in an attempt to stop the coup politically. When he reached Brasília, Goulart realized that he lacked any political support. The Senate president, Auro de Moura Andrade, was already calling for congressional support of the coup. Goulart stayed for a short time in Brasília, gathering his wife and two children, and flying to Porto Alegre in an Air Force Avro 748 aircraft. Soon after Goulart's plane took off, Auro de Moura Andrade declared the position of President of Brazil "vacant".

In the first hours of 2 April, Auro de Moura Andrade, along with the president of the Supreme Federal Court, swore in Pascoal Ranieri Mazzilli, the speaker of the house, as president. This move was arguably unconstitutional at the time, as João Goulart was still in the country.

At the same time, Goulart, now in the headquarters of the 3rd Army in Porto Alegre, still loyal to him at the time, contemplated resistance and counter-moves with Leonel Brizola, who argued for armed resistance. In the morning, General Floriano Machado informed the president that troops loyal to the coup were moving from Curitiba to Porto Alegre and that he had to leave the country, otherwise risking arrest. At 11:45 am, Goulart boarded a Douglas C-47 transport for his farm bordering Uruguay. Goulart would stay on his farmland until 4 April, when he finally boarded the plane for the last time, heading for Montevideo.

The coup installed successive right-wing hardliners as heads of state who suspended civil rights and liberties of the Brazilian people. They abolished all political parties and replaced them with only two, the military government's party called the National Renewal Alliance Party (Aliança Renovadora Nacional – ARENA) and the consented opposition Brazilian Democratic Movement (Movimento Democrático Brasileiro – MDB). The MDB, however, had no real power, and the military rule was marked by widespread disappearance and exile of many politicians, university students, writers, singers, painters, filmmakers, and other artists.

President João Goulart was not favorably viewed in Washington. He took an independent stance in foreign policy, resuming relations with socialist countries and opposing sanctions against Cuba; his administration passed a law limiting the amount of profits multinationals could transmit outside the country; a subsidiary of ITT was nationalized; he promoted economic and social reforms.

Lincoln Gordon served as U.S. Ambassador to Brazil (1961–66), where he played a major role for the support of the opposition against the government of President João Goulart and during the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état. On 27 March 1964, he wrote a top secret cable to the US government, urging it to support the coup of Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco with a "clandestine delivery of arms" and shipments of gas and oil, to possibly be supplemented by CIA covert operations. Gordon believed that Goulart, wanting to "seize dictatorial power," was working with the Brazilian Communist Party. Gordon wrote: "If our influence is to be brought to bear to help avert a major disaster here--which might make Brazil the China of the 1960s--this is where both I and all my senior advisors believe our support should be placed." In the years after the coup, Gordon, Gordon's staff, and the CIA repeatedly denied that they had been involved, and President Lyndon B. Johnson praised Gordon's service in Brazil as "a rare combination of experience and scholarship, idealism and practical judgment." In 1976, Gordon stated that the Johnson Administration "had been prepared to intervene militarily to prevent a leftist takeover of the government," but did not directly state that it had or had not intervened.

Circa 2004 many documents were declassified and placed online at the GWU National Security Archive, indicating the involvement of Johnson, McNamara, Gordon, and others. In 2005, Stansfield Turner's book described the involvement of ITT Corporation president Harold Geneen and CIA Director John McCone. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was uneasy about Goulart allowing "communists" to hold positions in government agencies. US President Lyndon Johnson and his Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara were also worried. Kennedy, who had made plans for a coup when his brother John was president, characterized Goulart as a "wily" politician in a White House tape.

The president of ITT, Harold Geneen, was a friend of the Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone. Between 1961 and 1964, the CIA performed psyops against Goulart, performed character assassination, pumped money into opposition groups, and enlisted the help of the Agency for International Development and the AFL-CIO. It has also been acknowledged that the Kennedy Administration was the architect of a potential coup and that President Johnson inherited plans for it. US President John F. Kennedy had discussed options on how to deal with Goulart with Gordon and his chief Latin America advisor Richard N. Goodwin in July 1962 and determined in December 1962 that the coup was necessary in order to advance US interests.

Life in exile

João Goulart 1964
João Goulart in 1964

On 4 April 1964, Goulart and his family landed in Uruguay seeking political asylum. After his first years in Montevideo, he bought a farm on the Uruguay-Brazil border, where he devoted himself to farming cattle. In 1966 he took part in the Frente Ampla (Broad Front) political movement, which aimed to fully restore democratic rule in Brazil through peaceful means. The end of Frente Ampla also resulted in the end of Goulart's political activity. He decided to focus on managing his farms located in Uruguay, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.

In late 1973, Argentine president Juan Domingo Perón invited Goulart to live in Buenos Aires and asked him to collaborate on a plan to expand Argentine meat exports to Europe and other markets that would not traditionally buy the Argentine commodity. However, Perón's minister of social welfare and private secretary José López Rega opposed the designation. Nevertheless, Goulart decided to stay in Buenos Aires.

In March 1976 in the town of La Plata, the Argentine Army dismantled a group of right-wing terrorists planning to kidnap Goulart's son and demand a high ransom in cash. With his personal security compromised, the former president distanced himself from Buenos Aires. This experience led Goulart to arrange new steps for his safe return to Brazil. However, this was delayed because of upcoming elections.


On 6 December 1976, Goulart died in his apartment La Villa, in the Argentine municipality of Mercedes, province of Corrientes, supposedly of a heart attack. Since Goulart's body was not submitted to an autopsy, the cause of his death is unconfirmed. Around 30,000 people attended his funeral service, which was censored from press coverage by the military dictatorship.

On 26 April 2000, the former governor of Rio Grande do Sul and Rio de Janeiro, Leonel Brizola, said that former presidents Goulart and Kubitschek were assassinated as part of Operation Condor and requested investigations into their deaths.

Transporte dos despojos do ex-presidente João Goulart (10858776605)
Goulart's remains arrive in Brasília for exhumation, almost 40 years after his death, 14 November 2013.

On 27 January 2008, the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo printed a story with a statement from Mario Neira Barreiro, a former intelligence service member under Uruguay's dictatorship. Barreiro said that Goulart was poisoned, confirming Brizola's allegations. Barreiro also said that the order to assassinate Goulart came from Sérgio Paranhos Fleury, head of the Departamento de Ordem Política e Social (Department of Political and Social Order), and the license to kill came from president Ernesto Geisel. In July 2008, a special commission of the legislative assembly of Rio Grande do Sul, Goulart's home state, concluded that "the evidence that Jango was willfully assassinated, with knowledge of the Geisel government, is strong."

In March 2009, the magazine CartaCapital published previously unreleased documents of the National Intelligence Service, created by an undercover agent who was present at Goulart's properties in Uruguay. This revelation reinforces the theory that the former president was poisoned. The Goulart family has not yet identified who could be the "B Agent" that is mentioned in the documents. The agent acted as a close friend to Goulart and described in detail an argument during the former president's 56th birthday party with his son stemming from a fight between two employees. As a result of the story, the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies decided to investigate Goulart's death.

Later, CartaCapital published an interview with Goulart's widow, Maria Teresa Fontela Goulart, who revealed documents from the Uruguayan government that documented her complaints that her family was being monitored. The Uruguayan government was monitoring Goulart's travel and his business and political activities. These files were from 1965, a year after the coup in Brazil, and suggest that he could have been deliberately attacked. The Movement for Justice and Human Rights and the President João Goulart Institute have requested a document in which the Uruguayan interior ministry said that "serious and responsible Brazilian sources" talked about an "alleged plot against the former Brazilian president."

Political views


Closeness to poor people, especially poor Afro-Brazilians, was a normal behavior for the young Goulart. The main leader of his Carnival block Comigo Ninguém Pode, mãe-de-santo Jorgina Vieira, declared in an interview with the newspaper Zero Hora that Goulart was one of the only white boys of São Borja to be a member of the block. In a particular Carnival celebration in the 1940s, he broke the high society rules and led the block inside the aristocratic Clube Comercial, which would not allow blacks in their halls until the late 1960s.


Like many other leftist politicians of the Cold War era, Goulart was accused of being a communist at various times. As a response to Carlos Lacerda, his most frequent accuser, he cited right-wing politicians also supported by the Brazilian Communist Party whom the latter [Lacerda] would not criticize. In an interview with the newspaper O Jornal, Goulart declared, "regarding the communists, they have supported indistinctly candidates of several political affiliations, conservatives or populists. I do not wish to distinguish such support, but I will only allow myself this question: is perhaps Colonel Virgílio Távora a communist, just because, ostensibly, he accepts the support of communists in Ceará? How to say that the illustrious patriot of UDN Milton Campos is communist, for accepting, as he did in Minas, the same votes requested by Mr. Afonso Arinos here in Rio?" But in 1967, Lacerda acknowledged that Goulart wasn't "a man from the Communist Party".

Tributes and amnesty

In 1984, exactly twenty years after the coup, filmmaker Sílvio Tendler directed a documentary chronicling Goulart's political career through archive footage and interviews with influential politicians. Jango was viewed in theaters by over half a million people, becoming the sixth-largest grossing Brazilian documentary. It was critically acclaimed, receiving three awards at the Gramado Film Festival and one at the Havana Film Festival, as well as the Silver Daisy, given by the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil).

There are at least ten schools throughout Brazil named after Goulart. Most are located on Rio Grande do Sul, in the municipalities of Alvorada, Ijuí, Novo Hamburgo, Porto Alegre, Viamão, and in Goulart's native São Borja. There are three schools named after Goulart in Rio de Janeiro, Balneário Camboriú and Santa Catarina, and another in São João de Meriti in Rio de Janeiro. On 6 December 2007, exactly 31 years after Goulart's death, a monument was erected in Balneário Camboriú depicting Goulart sitting on a bench on the Avenida Atlântica (in front of the Atlantic Ocean) with his two children. It was designed by artist Jorge Schroder upon the request of mayor Rubens Spernau.

On 28 June 2008, the Avenida Presidente João Goulart (President João Goulart Avenue) in Osasco was inaugurated in São Paulo. The boulevard is about 760 meters long and is the first of the city with a bicycle path. Other cities, such as Canoas, Caxias do Sul, Cuiabá, Lages, Pelotas, Porto Alegre, Porto Velho, Ribeirão Preto, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonópolis, São Borja, São Leopoldo, São Paulo, and Sobral already have roads honoring Goulart.

On 15 November 2008, Goulart and his widow Maria Teresa received political amnesty from the federal government at the 20th National Congress of Lawyers in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte. The former First Lady received a restitution of R$ 644,000 (around US$322,000) to be paid in pensions of R$5,425 (around US$2,712) per month for Goulart having been restrained from practicing as a lawyer. She also received a restitution of R$100,000 (around US$50,000) for the 15 years in which her family was forbidden to return to Brazil.

Electoral performance

Year Election Position Party Votes Result
1947 Rio Grande do Sul State Elections State deputy PTB 4.150 Elected
1950 Rio Grande do Sul State Elections Federal deputy PTB 39.832 Elected
1954 Rio Grande do Sul State Elections Senator PTB 346.198 Lost
1955 Brazilian presidential election Vice-President PTB 3.591.409 Elected
1960 Brazilian presidential election Vice-President PTB 4.547.010 Elected

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: João Goulart para niños

  • History of Brazil (1964–1985)
  • Goulart family lawsuit against the USA
  • João Goulart's House
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