Golbery do Couto e Silva (1911–1987)

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Golbery do Couto e Silva (1911–1987)

Golbery do Couto e Silva (b. 21 August 1911; d. 18 September 1987), Brazilian military officer and political figure. Born in Rio Grande do Sul, Golbery graduated from the military command college. He attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leav-enworth in 1944 before serving in the Brazilian Expeditionary Force (FEB) in Italy in 1944–1945. In 1952 he began teaching at the recently formed Higher War College (Escola Superior de Guerra—ESG). Through his writings and work in the ESG, he exerted enormous influence on the formation of the National Security Doctrine. Golbery became the head of the National Security Council under Jânio Quadros in 1961 but resigned when João Goulart became president in the same year. Between 1961 and 1964 he headed the IPES (Instituto de Pesquisas e Estudos Sociais), a privately funded think tank and intelligence-gathering operation that played a notorious role in working for the overthrow of Goulart.

After the military coup of 1964, President Humberto Castello Branco created the SNI (Serviço Nacional de Informações) and named Golbery to head the agency with cabinet-level status. Along with other "moderates," Golbery lost influence with the "election" of Artur Costa E Silva (1967–1969) and then Emílio Médici (1969–1974) to the presidency. He served as the head of the civilian presidential staff during the administration of Ernesto Geisel (1974–1979) and in the first two years of the presidency of João Baptista Figueiredo (1979–1985).

Along with Geisel, Golbery was one of the principal figures in the shaky and tentative process of abertura (political opening). He resigned from the government in 1981 when he was unable to persuade the president to press an investigation of a political scandal implicating the hardliners in the government and the SNI.

See alsoBrazil, National Security Doctrine; Military Dictatorships: Since 1945.


Golbery Do Couto E Silva, Aspectos geopolíticos do Brasil (1957), and Geopolítica do Brasil (1967).

Plínio De Abreu Ramos and Cid Benjamin, "Golberi do Couto e Silva," in Dicionário histórico biográfico (1983).

Maria Helena Moreira Alves, State and Opposition in Military Brazil (1985).

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

Additional Bibliography

Birkner, Walter Marcos Knaesel. O realismo de Golbery: Segurança nacional e desenvolvimento global no pensa-mento de Golbery do Couto e Silva. Itajaí: UNIVALI; Caçador: Universidade do Contestado, 2002.

Gaspari, Elio. A ditadura encurralada. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2004.

                                     Marshall C. Eakin

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