President João Goulart’s Body Exhumed

Posted by Patrick Duffy


João “Jango” Goulart — 24th President of Brazil (Image:

Today, (November 14, 2013), the remains of João Goulart, the Brazilian President deposed by the 1964 military coup d’état, will be exhumed for examinations to clarify his cause of death. Relatives of “Jango,” as Goulart is known, have been pressing for a reopening of the investigations around his death since 2007; and with the creation of the National Truth Commission in 2012, these demands have gained momentum enough to be met.

The Truth Commission, partnered with The Secretariat for Human Rights (SDH), coordinated the efforts to carry forth the disinterment, and the physical process of exhuming will be undertaken by the Federal Police in conjunction with the National Institute of Criminology. Once disinterred, Goulart’s remains will be examined by specialists from Argentina, Uruguay and Cuba.

Goulart died in 1976 in Argentina, the only Brazilian President to have died in exile. He was interred in his hometown of São Borja, on the Brazilian-Argentine border. Although Goulart’s remains never underwent an autopsy, the official cause of his death—a sudden heart attack—is plausible, as the late President had suffered heart problems for a decade prior to passing away. However, in 1980, suspicions around Jango’s death began to circulate, and some believe that while undergoing medical treatments, he was poisoned by doctors hired as part of Operation Condor. With the disinterment and examination of his remains, it is hoped that an official story will lay all previous doubts to rest.

The investigation will not stop with the examination of the remains, though, as it is merely one step in a complex process for the reconstruction of memory. The National Truth Commission will consolidate the examination’s findings with documents concerning Jango’s death that it will acquire from countries both involved in and opposed to Operation Condor.

Today (November 14th), members of the National Truth Commission will meet in Brasília to participate in a ceremony welcoming the arrival of Jango’s remains to the capital city. Upon the late President’s arrival, the Federal government will concede to him the honors due to a Brazilian Head of State—honors calculatedly denied him during the dictatorship. Goulart’s remains will be returned to their resting place in São Borja on December 6, 2013—the anniversary of the late President’s death.

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