Juscelino Kubitschek

juscelino kubitschek, 21st president of brazil. headline: "juscelino kubitschek"

Hi there! Today we are going to continue learning more about politics in Brazil! We’ve previously discussed the first president of Brazil and even the impeachment of Dilma Rousseff. This Dica will be all about about Juscelino Kubitschek, the Brazilian president who founded Brasília, our current capital. Juscelino Kubitschek is so famous here that he even has a bridge named after him! So, let’s learn more about him and much more about Brazilian history!

Who was Juscelino Kubitschek?

Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira was born in Diamantina, in the city of Minas Gerais, on September 12, 1902. JK – as he was also known – was a doctor, an officer of the Minas Gerais Military Police and a politician, on top of being elected the 21st President of Brazil between 1956 and 1961. He was a lively man who loved to dance and was known among his friends as “pé de valsa” (a slang for a good dancer).

From Federal Deputy to President

JK’s political career began when he was elected Federal Deputy of Minas Gerais. He moved to Rio de Janeiro, the federal capital, where he began his mandate. As a deputy, Juscelino acted behind the scenes, defending the interests of the government. JK made few public appearances then, preferring less exposed settings, like government commissions. He was deputy until National Congress closed in 1937, with the Estado Novo coup, promoted by Getúlio Vargas.

However, in 1940, he was appointed mayor of Belo Horizonte and returned to the political scene. As mayor, he did not abandon medicine, reaching the rank of lieutenant-colonel-doctor of the Military Police of Minas Gerais! JK was a very dedicated man in everything he did! During his tenure, he became known as the “hurricane mayor” for the massive changes made to the city.

With the end of World War II, re-democratization began in the country with the fall of the dictatorship of Getúlio. Since he had been nominated by the dictatorship, Juscelino left his position as mayor, and was democratically elected as a federal deputy again in 1945.

In 1956, Juscelino Kubitschek was sworn in as president, with a slogan that until today is known in the country, “fifty years in five!”. His goal was to make Brazil grow the equivalent of fifty years just during his five-year term. And how did he do it? Well, the main objective was a process of rapid industrialization, with the automobile industry as its flagship. His government launched a period of great economic growth, and this age is now known as “The Brazilian Golden Years”.

The New Capital: Brasilia

juscelino kubitschek bridge in lake paranoá, brasília.
Juscelino Kubitschek bridge, in Brasília. Picture by Agência Brasil at Wikicommons.

The promise to build Brasília was made by JK in 1955, during a rally. The construction of a new capital was included in the Brazilian Constitution in 1891, but it had never gone ahead. Its very existence occupies a unique place in Brazilian history and JK’s political career. Many consider Brasília to be among the greatest constructions of the 20th century. The legendary architects Lúcio Costa and Oscar Niemeyer oversaw the construction. They completed it in a record time of 41 months, even ahead of schedule.

But you must be wondering, why did they change the capital from Rio de Janeiro to Brasilia? Well, in addition to following the Constitution, the new capital was part of a plan to integrate all regions of Brazil. This integration would generate jobs, with it absorbing surplus labor in the Northeast region of Brazil. In addition, there would be a stimulus to the development of the interior, unburdening the economy of the Center-South.

Juscelino Kubitscheck was so important to Brazil and Brasília’s history, that one of the main bridges in Brasília was named after him. Juscelino Kubitschek Bridge is a steel and concrete arch bridge across Lake Paranoá. It connects the eastern shore of the lake to Brasília’s downtown. It’s considered a Brasília landmark and represents the desire JK had for integration of our country!

What do you think about this change? What about Juscelino Kubitschek being honored with his name on a main bridge? Could you imagine Rio de Janeiro as the capital of Brazil? If you want to dive into Rio de Janeiro history and get to know many incredible places, consider coming study with us! We have many incredible activities about our history, including Downtown walks to learn about it!

See you in the next Dica!

Click on the links below to see more related Dicas
Brazilian States
São Paulo
Rio de Janeiro History
Para in Portuguese

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