Brazilian War (Napoleon's World)

Clockwise, from top left: U.S. Marines battle in an Amazonas village, extraction of troops after an aerial assault, a burning Republicano base camp near Belem, Brazilian civilians killed by Milicias

Date December 1975-August 1987
Location Brazil, southern Colombia, northern Argentina
Result Decisive Allied victory:
  • American withdrawal from Brazil in 1984 and Colombia in 1986
  • Decisive coalition victory in August 1987
  • Fall of Savala Regime and transition to democracy in Brazil

NATO-led Coalition

US flag 35 stars United States of America
Flag of Gran Colombia (1819) Colombia
Flag of Argentina Argentina
Flag of England England
Flag of Portugal Portugal
Brazilian Republican Army

Affiliated Parties

Flag of Empire of Brazil (1870-1889) Brazil

Affiliated Parties


US flag 35 stars Adam Eisler
US flag 35 stars Neill Wallace
US flag 35 stars Elizabeth Shannon
Flag of Gran Colombia (1819) Carlos Andrés Pérez
Flag of Gran Colombia (1819) Rafael Gusto Villana
Flag of Argentina Isabel Perón

Flag of Empire of Brazil (1870-1889) Hugo Savala
Flag of Empire of Brazil (1870-1889) Martim Almeida
Flag of Empire of Brazil (1870-1889) Gustavo Fontes

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The Savala regime was eventually toppled by the resurgent Republicanos in 1987, when French support was withdrawn due to their declining interest in the matter with the Americans gone.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

Savala Coup

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.

Setbacks for ERB Guerrilla Campaigns and Rise of As Milicias

ERB Flight to Colombia and 1976-77 Guerrilla Campaigns

Diplomatic Standoff and American Recognition of ARB

Brazilian Invasion of Colombia: 1977-78

Invasion of Venezuela: November 1977

NATO Response and Escalation

CIC Response

War in Colombia: 1978-80

New Mission

Argentinean Offensives 1980-1984

Border Tensions and Aerolineas Argentinas 404

Operation Fireball

Brazilian Counterattack and 1981 Stalemate

Argentinean Occupation of Cisplatina 1981-82

Operation Predator

Brazilian Counteroffensives: Fall 1983-Summer 1984

Coalition Assaults on Northeast and NATO Bombing: 1980-1983

Para Campaign and Occupation of Manaus

As Milicia Guerrilla Tactics and Amazon Basin Fighting

NATO Retreat to Colombia: 1982

Operation Backdoor

NATO Counteroffensive 1983 and Brazilian Withdrawal from Amazonas and Para

NATO Bombing in 1980 vs. 1983

"Brasilianization" and Withdrawal of American Ground Forces: Summer 1983-January 1984

Origins of Brazilianization

Colombian No-Confidence Vote and "Guerra Total"

Operation Holiday

United States Special Forces and Bombing Focus

Pampas Campaign and Argentinean Counteroffensives: 1984-1986

Operation Longbow

Battle of Curitiba November 1984-March 1985

Operation Ransack: Brazilian Counterattack

Argentinean Naval and Air Campaigns 1985-1986

ERB Offensives, New Colombian Leadership and Free Republic of Brazil: 1984-1986

Formation of Free Republic of Brazil

October 1984 Colombian Offensive

Recife Incident

Battle of Salvador

Favela Movement and Success in the Interior

Fall of Rio de Janeiro and End of Conflict: November 1986-August 1987

Battle of São Paulo

Belo Horizonte Campaign

Operation Fortress: Brazilian Defensive Strategy and Counteroffensives

Battle of Rio de Janeiro and End of War


Brazilian Restoration

War Crimes Trials in Brazil

Late 1980s Colombian Economic Crisis

Argentinean Constitutional Reform

"Brazil Bug" and Analysis of War in United States

Opposition to the War

United States Antiwar Movement

Antiwar Movement of Colombia

1980s Argentinean Protests

Antiwar Movements in Brazil

Antiwar Movements Internationally

Other Countries Involvement