Many ultra-right “intellectuals” have recently stated that the 1964 military coup was a response of the Armed Forces to a popular revolt against an unpopular leader who was driving the country into chaos. That wasn’t remotely the case, though. Polls of the time, which were archived for over 40 years, show that Mr. Goulart’s moves as head of state were backed by 70 percent of Brazilians. If the 1965 election had taken place, 51 percent of voters would give him another term.

But Mr. Goulart lacked support among the business class and the press. According to Luiz Antonio Dias, a history professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP) a movement in support of the coup involved all major news outlets of the time, including Folha de S.Paulo, O Estado de S.Paulo, O Globo and Jornal do Brasil.

“It was commonplace to connect the government—whether in editorials or articles—to the communists. I don’t recall any direct statement calling President Goulart a communist, however, his initiatives [were called] communist-like,” he says. “Folha and Estado also showed deep concerns for a possible coup being plotted by Mr. Goulart and his supporters, to keep him in power.” The professor recalls that newspaper A Última Hora, which supported the government, was boycotted by advertisers, went bankrupt and was taken over by Folha de S.Paulo.

Here’s how the press covered the 1964 coup. Many of these newspapers would regret that choice years later.

A Noite (Rio)

“The people and the government overcome upheaval”

Supportive of Mr. Goulart, the newspaper was betting on his triumph. The president, however, offered no resistance to the coup.

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Correio da Manhã (Rio)

“States already rebelling against JG” [João Goulart]

The frontpage editorial, asking for Mr. Goulart’s removal, is entitled “Out!”

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Diário Carioca (Rio)

“Army troops march to suffocate rebellion in Minas Gerais”

The newspaper defended the respect for the Constitution.

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Diário da Noite (São Paulo)

“Ranieri Mazzilli is the president”

Then-Speaker Ranieri Mazzilli took over as interim president for two weeks, until Congress indirectly elected Field Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco as President. The newspaper treated the military coup as legal.

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Diário de Notícias (Rio)

“Navy deposes Goulart”

Ibrahim Sued (a celebrities’ columnist) wrote: “It’s the end of communism in Brazil.”

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Diário de Pernambuco (Recife)

“Jango [Mr. Goulart’s nickname] leaves Brasília for Porto Alegre or abroad: Mazzilli takes office”

The cover also has a photo of then-Governor of Pernambuco Miguel Arraes in the back of a Volkswagen beetle, being arrested and impeached.

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Diário de Piracicaba (São Paulo state)

“Ceased military operations: calm reigns once again in the country”

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Fatos & Fotos (Brasília)

The Great Rebellion

The cover features Carlos Lacerda, a media mogul who served at the time as Governor of Guanabara (the district of Rio de Janeiro). Mr. Lacerda was a fervent supporter of the military coup —but regretted his decision years later, after realizing the Armed Forces had no intention to leave power soon.

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Folha de S.Paulo (São Paulo)

“Congress declares the presidency vacant: Mazzilli takes over”

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


Jornal do Brasil (Rio)

“São Paulo [troops] adheres to Minas [Gerais troops] and announces march to Rio against Goulart” 

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


O Cruzeiro (Rio)—extra issue

“Historical Issue of the Revolution”

Once again, Carlos Lacerda is featured on the cover.

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


O Dia (Rio)

“Fabulous demonstration of repulse for communism” 

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


O Estado de S.Paulo (São Paulo)

“Democratic movement triumphs” 

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup


O Globo (Rio)

Goulart flees and democracy is being re-established: Mazzilli takes office as president

How the Brazilian press covered the 1964 military coup

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SocietyMar 31, 2019

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