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The Brazilian War was a conflict fought between 1975 and 1987 in the South American country of Brazil and partially in Colombian and Argentine territory. The war was initially fought between the Republicano guerrilla forces and the military regime of General Hugo Savala. Eventually, the Colombians and Argentineans became involved militarily and soon the United States of America entered the conflict as well, with the Savala regime receiving material support from the French Empire, Chile and Japan. In Brazil, the war is known as the Civil War. America suffered its first true loss in a military conflict, suffering upwards 95,000 deaths and over one million soldiers wounded from the war, withdrawing in late 1983 and early 1984.
The Savala regime was eventually toppled by the resurgent Republicanos in 1987, when French support was withdrawn due to their declining interest in the matter with the Americans gone. As many as seven million Brazilians are believed to have been killed in the conflict, almost twenty million were left homeless and Brazil remains a developing country as a result, although it showed promise in the 21st century. The war also established Colombia as the premier South American power, and a worthy NATO ally and hemispheric economic competitor to the United States, having succeeded where the Americans failed.
Background to 1974
On February 21, 1974, the Brazilian military launched a coup in Rio de Janeiro, blockading the central government district and demanding the government dissolve immediately. General Savala appeared on national television that afternoon to guarantee peaceful transition from the elected government to an "interim" military transitional period in which he would oversee new elections that included his National Democratic Brazilian Party. This coup was initially supported by many in the country. Leaders of the deposed government were ordered to leave the city of Rio de Janeiro or be faced with temporary detainment, and the National Assembly was dissolved on February 24 without warning as Savala declared himself "interim President."
ERB Resistance and fighting in Northeast 1974-1977
Formation of the ERB
With the rapid consolidation of Savala's power in Rio de Janeiro during the spring of 1974, former members of the National Assembly fled north to cities such as Recife and Salvador, in particular after the murder of former Prime Minister João Magripe in Rio de Janeiro in March. By the early summer, Savala declared that new national elections would be held in September of 1974, and that parties the military deemed to be "supportive of policies prohibitive to the goodwill of Brazil and unpatriotic to the Mother Country" would be banned from participating. U.S. President Clyde Dawley dismissed these elections as fraudulent prior to their having occurred and encouraged fellow NATO members to sanction Brazil economically for its behavior, due largely from the assassination of Magripe. The elections, on September 4, 1974, provided a wide margin of victory for Savala's National Democratic Brazilian Party, which won almost all seats in the National Assembly and proceeded to ban three previous member parties from ever rejoining the body. The new National Assembly, which included only the minority Brazilian Revolutionary Party and the mainstream conservative National Democratic Union, declared Savala as President of Brazil and General Martim Almeida as Prime Minister of Brazil. The two men would remain in those positions until 1987.
On September 15, 1974, exiled members of the old democratic government announced the formation of the Brazilian Republican Authority (Autoridade Republicana Brasileira, ARB), an opposition organization which advocated for open and free elections in Brazil within six months and which declared Savala's regime and hold on power illegitimate. Many members of the ARB were evacuated from Brazil that October after two senior members were assassinated, and the ARB's official headquarters were established in Washington, D.C. as a government in exile.
On October 18, Savala declared the ARB a "subversive, unpatriotic and un-Brazilian terrorist organization" and authorized the military to use lethal means to find its members. The ARB subsequently formed the Brazilian Republican Army (ERB) two days later, beginning the civil war.