Barros, Adhemar de (1901–1969)

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Barros, Adhemar de (1901–1969)

Adhemar de Barros (b. 22 April 1901; d. 12 March 1969), three-time governor of São Paulo (1957–1961), and frequent populist candidate for president (1955, 1960, 1965).

The Barros family lived on its extensive coffee lands and owned businesses in the interior of São Paulo. Adhemar attended high school in the capital, completed his medical training in Rio, and interned in Europe. His political career began with Getúlio Vargas's surprise appointment as state interventor in 1938. Adhemar seized the opportunity to build hospitals, roads, clinics, and schools, making a name for himself as a vigorous administrator.

In 1945 Adhemar formed the populist-style Social Progressive Party (PSP) and ran for governor in 1947. Finding his upper-class background a hindrance, he adopted the image of a rough-and-tumble provincial. Spending both his own and illicitly raised money, he hired publicity experts, conducted polls, purchased media exposure, and flew his own airplane to expand his following. In office he stressed building programs—schools, hospitals, highways, and dams—that glorified his image as "the manager." Tempted by the presidency in 1950, he withdrew in favor of Vargas with the understanding that the latter would support him in 1955.

Adhemar's flamboyant career was blocked by the meteoric rise of Jânio Quadros, who defeated him in the 1954 gubernatorial election. An indictment for corruption stalled his campaign for president the following year. Absolved of the charges and vindicated by his mayoral victory in 1957 and his gubernatorial defeat of Quadros in 1963, Adhemar hoped to win the presidency in 1965. The military revoked his political rights because of graft, however, and he died three years later in self-imposed exile.

See alsoBrazil: Since 1889 .


Thomas E. Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, 1930–1964 (1967).

Guita Grin Debert, Idelogia e populismo (1979).

Regina Sampaio, Adhemar de Barros e o PSP (1982).

Israel Beloch and Alzira Alves De Abreu, comps., Dicionário histórico-biográfico brasileiro, 1930–1983 (1984).

Additional Bibliography

Cannabrava Filho, Paulo. Adhemar de Barros: Trajetória e realizaçoes. São Paulo: Editora Terceiro Nome, 2004.

Kwak, Gabriel. O trevo e a vassoura: Os destinos de Janio Quadros e Adhemar de Barros. São Paulo: A Girafa, 2006.

Pomar, Pedro Estevam da Rocha. A democracia intolerante: Dutra, Adhemar, e a repressão ao Partido Comunista, 1946–1950. São Paulo: Arquivo do Estado: Imprensa Oficial do Estado, 2002.

                                 Michael L. Conniff

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Barros, Adhemar de (1901–1969)

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