This book is not an essay, a result of historical research, or a monograph. There are no criticisms: the University of Brasília wanted to pay homage, postmortem, to Humberto de Alencar Castello Branco, the first president of the only military regime Brazil experienced in the twentieth century. The university invited Luís Viana Filho, a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, a prominent politician, and a member of Castello Branco’s cabinet to organize a collection of testimonies, which he had used as background materials for another book O Governo Castelo Branco, published in 1976; of many statements, he selected ten.
The testimonies are from national politicians (Aliomar Baleeiro, Francisco Negrão de Lima, Herbert Levy, Mem de Sá, Oswaldo Trigueiro, Pedro Aleixo, Raimundo Padilha, Roberto Abreu Sodré) and from two U. S. authorities who worked in Brazil (Ambassador Lincoln Gordon and General Vernon Walters). The testimonies compare opinions about Castello Branco—the man, the administrator, and the politician, who as head of government, according to them, acted with moderation, balance, wisdom, and patriotism. For researchers of Brazilian history, and, particularly, of the origins of what was the “Movement of 1964,” the book adds new, and clarifies other, facts.
Branco emerges as a statesman, in contrast with the common view of leaders of dictatorial and military regimes. Perhaps for this reason, De Gaulle, after his visit to Brazil, said “Rien et personne ne m’avait préparé pour le maréchal Castello Branco.” The philosopher and Brazilian Catholic leader, Alceu Amoroso Lima, an adversary of the military regime, also once stated, “He was an honest man, an exemplary patriot, and, within his point of view, he attempted to do right. He must be judged by posterity less for the good that he did than for the bad that he tried to avoid. After the accident in which the former president died, Corriere della Sera journalist Indro Montanelli would have the opportunity to write about Castello Branco’s personality and the success of his government. Montanelli said that he personally was against all kinds of dictatorships and hoped his own country would remain forever on the path of democratic government. “But if destiny reserved for Italy another experience of imposed government, it would be felicitous to have a dictator of Castello Branco’s quality” (p. 78).