Emílio Garrastazu Médici
Emílio Garrastazu Médici (December 4, 1905 – October 9, 1985) was a Brazilian military official and politician who served as President of Brazil from 1969-1974. Prior to his presidency he served as the head of Brazil's National Intelligence Service.
His regime is widely considered to be the most brutal and extreme of the Brazilian military governments of 1964-1985 with his regime infamous for numerous human rights violations, widespread torture, censorship of men’s magazines such as Playboy, Penthouse, Lui, as well as regular magazines such as then West German magazine Der Spiegel, and executions of opponents.
Nevertheless, Médici was popular, as his term was met with the largest economic growth of any Brazilian President, the Brazilian Miracle unfolded, authored jointly by his liberal ministers ahead of the Ministério do Planejamento and Ministério da Fazenda (planning and finances) Roberto Campos and Delfim Netto, and the country won the 1970 Football World Cup. In 1971 Médici presented the First National Development Plan aimed at increasing the rate of economic growth especially in the remote Northeast and Amazon basin.
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. On his mother's side he descended from Basques. In the 1920s he entered military school at Porto Alegre and then the Army where he was steadily promoted, becoming general in 1961.
Throughout the 1950s he served as a commander of reserve forces before being appointed chief of staff to Artur da Costa e Silva from 1957 to 1960. After the military coup Médici became Brazil's military attache to the USA from 1964-1966. In 1967 Médici was appointed chief of the National Intelligence Service of Brazil
In 1969 he became commander of the Third Army and was chosen to become President of Brazil by the Brazilian Military Junta of 1969, succeeding Costa e Silva, who had suffered a stroke. As the President was elected by National Congress, it had to be re-convened for this purpose after being dismissed by Costa de Silva. Médici was the only candidate, though since the legislature was dominated by the pro-military National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA), his election would have been a foregone conclusion in any case. The legislature elected him by a margin of 313-0, with 56 abstentions. Médici took the oath on October 30, 1969 and served until the end of his term on March 15, 1974.
According to a declassified U.S. Department of State memo released in 2008, Médici met with U.S. President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, who were making efforts to over Chilean President Salvador Allende, a socialist, Nixon reportedly asked if the Chilean armed forces were capable of overthrowing Allende. Médici, who a staunch enemy of communism, expressed his belief that they could and also stated that Brazil "was working towards this end." This could suggest that Médici had a hand in Augusto Pinochet's coup d'etat (which was backed by the United States) that deposed Allende, likely as a part of Operation Condor. However, it is unknown if this is indeed the case.
During his rule guerrilla movement led by Carlos Marighela, leader of Ação Libertadora Nacional and Carlos Lamarca was mostly destroyed and Marighela and Lamarca killed. Revolutionary Movement 8th October was suppressed and Araguaia Guerrilla War won.
In the 1980s, the Catholic vicariate of São Paulo and Protestant ministers obtained thousands of classified documents that detailed the use of torture during Médici's term. These revelations shocked Brazilians who had been unaware of the extensive use of torture.
In November 1970 federal, state, and municipal elections were held. Most of the seats were won by ARENA candidates. In 1974, he was succeeded by another general, Ernesto Geisel, despite attempts by Medici's fellow hardliners to derail his candidacy.
Médici died of kidney failure on October 9, 1985 at the age of 79 after suffering a stroke. His body was buried in the São João Batista Cemetery in Rio de Janeiro. Like most of Brazil’s military dictators, he has received widespread praise from current Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.