Costa e Silva, Artur da (1902–1969)

views updated

Costa e Silva, Artur da (1902–1969)

Artur da Costa e Silva (b. 3 October 1902; d. 17 December 1969), president of Brazil (1967–1969). Born in Taquarí, Rio Grande do Sul, Costa e Silva attended the Realengo Military Academy and graduated at the head of his class. As a young second lieutenant in 1922, he took part in the Copacabana Fort Revolt in Rio de Janeiro, for which he was imprisoned for six months. For supporting Getúlio Vargas in the Revolution of 1930, Costa e Silva was named to a federal government post. During World War II, he served as an officer in the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) in Italy, after which he joined a group of officers who removed Vargas from office in 1945. Costa e Silva became a brigadier general in 1952; six years later he was named a major general and commander of the second infantry division and of the armored vehicle division based in São Paulo.

He turned down President João Goulart's offer to become army chief of staff in 1961, but the following year he accepted command of the Fourth Army, based in northeastern Brazil. Costa e Silva played a key role in the March 1964 coup against Goulart, seizing the War Ministry Building in Rio, the armed forces' communication and bureaucratic center. The Supreme Revolutionary Command, which engineered the coup, named him head of the 200,000-man army. Two years later the Army High Command elected him to succeed fellow officer (and academy classmate) Humberto Castello Branco as president.

Costa e Silva's presidency was marked by the imposition of authoritarian rule. In December 1968, he recessed the National Congress when it refused to waive immunity for a member perceived to have criticized the military. Costa e Silva then issued a series of Institutional Acts that expanded executive and military powers, limited media freedom, and suspended federal, state, and municipal elections. He justified his regime with an improving economy. The government cut taxes on Brazilian businesses, attracted foreign investment, and provided incentives to ranchers. The gross domestic product rose 11 percent in 1968 and the World Bank approved a $1 billion development loan, marking the beginning of the Brazilian Economic Miracle.

In August 1969, while campaigning for a national referendum on revisions to the Constitution of 1967, Costa e Silva suffered an incapacitating stroke. A military junta composed of the three armed forces ministers assumed power, bypassed the constitutionally designated successor, Vice President Pedro Aleixo, and with the Army High Command named General Emílio Garrastazú Médici in October 1969 to succeed immediately to the presidency. Costa e Silva died in Rio de Janeiro.

See alsoBrazil, Revolutions: Revolution of 1964 .


Thomas E. Skidmore, The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964–85 (1988).

Additional Bibliography

Gaspari, Elio. A ditadura envergonhada. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2002.

Martins Filho, João Roberto.O palácio e a caserna: A dinâmica militar das crises políticas na ditadura, 1964–1969. São Carlos: Editora da Universidade Federal de São Carlos, 1995.

Reis Filho, Daniel Aarão, and Marcelo Ridenti. O golpe e a ditadura militar: Quarenta anos depois (1964–2004). Bauru: Editora da Universidade do Sagrado Coração, 2004.

                                         Ross Wilkinson

About this article

Costa e Silva, Artur da (1902–1969)

Updated About content Print Article