From Institutional Act to Riocentro, a Glossary of Terms Associated with the Dictatorship

Check out 23 main terms associated with the military dictatorship period.

Political openness

It was a process that began under the Geisel government, the fifth general in power, leading to the end of the military dictatorship. A slow, gradual, and secure opening, it aimed to prepare the country for redemocratization.


National Liberation Action was an armed group created in 1968 that fought against the military regime. One of its founders was Carlos Marighella, a dissident in the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB).


Aliança Renovadora Nacional was a political party formed by members from the National Democratic Union (UDN) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD). It emerged to compose the bipartisanship instituted in AI -2.

Institutional Act

Decrees and rules issued during the dictatorship to guarantee the military’s remaining in power. Altogether there were 17 acts. The number 5 (AI-5) marked the hardest period of the dictatorship, called lead years. With it, the president had almost unlimited powers such as: closing the National Congress and other legislative houses indefinitely; cancel mandates; suspend political rights and guarantee habeas corpus in cases such as political crimes and dismiss or retire civil servants.

Case Riocentro

In Rio de Janeiro, a bomb attack hit the Riocentro Convention Center on the night of April 30, 1981. Two artifacts exploded during an event commemorating Labor Day. One of the bombs seriously injured a captain and killed a sergeant. The other fell into a power station.


Detachment of Information Operations – Center for Internal Defense Operations were bodies that emerged from Operation Bandeirante, whose aim was to repress individuals or organizations that represented a threat to the maintenance of the regime’s security.


Political and Social Order Department was an agency created in the Estado Novo that remained active during the military dictatorship to curb political and social crimes that put national security at risk.

Guerrilla of Araguaia

Armed guerrilla organized by the Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B) in opposition to the dictatorship. It got its name because it was fought in the vicinity of the Araguaia River, which bathes the states of Goiás, Mato Grosso, Tocantins, and Pará.

Military Board

Group of military ministers who temporarily exercised the functions of President of the Republic after the announcement of Arthur da Costa e Silva’s illness.

Amnesty Law

Enacted in 1979 by the last president of the military dictatorship (1964-1985), General João Figueiredo, the law granted amnesty to everyone who committed political crimes from 1961 to 1979.

Family March with God for Freedom

Conservative demonstration against the basic reforms proposed by João Goulart, before the period of the military regime.


The Brazilian Democratic Movement was a political party that opposed Arena when bipartisanship was instituted in the country.


Revolutionary Movement Oito de Outubro was an urban guerrilla group fighting for the end of the military regime.


Operation Bandeirante aimed to guarantee national security and combat left-wing armed groups.

Condor Operation

Political alliance signed between South American countries that were under the command of military regimes. Participated: Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The objective was to share information to pursue those who opposed the regime.

April Package

On April 1, 1977, President Ernesto Geisel introduced a series of measures to guarantee a majority of the National Congress’s supporters. Among the actions was: closing the Congress; the appointment of bionic senators; extending the presidential term to six years; continuity of indirect elections for mayors, governors, and president; absolute majority of the quorum for the approval of amendments to the Constitution and an increase in the representativeness of the north and northeast, where the Arena was predominant.


Partido Comunista Brasileiro operated in hiding from 1966 to 1979 when in Brazil, there were only two political parties allowed, the Arena and the MDB.

PC do B

The Communist Party of Brazil, during the military regime, inspired by the Great March in China in 1934, organized a rural armed struggle, the Guerrilha do Araguaia, to try to end the dictatorship. The plan was to march from southern Pará to Brasília to overthrow the military and take power.


The Brazilian Revolutionary Communist Party was created from a split in the PCB. During the 4th Congress, party militants were expelled. They created a new party.

Bionic Mayor / Governor

Opposition to the military regime used the term bionic to designate indirectly elected politicians.


National Information Service was an agency that monitored the circulation of information in the country.


National Student Union was a body founded in 1937 that represented university students. During the military regime, the organization was banned from acting and created a movement against the dictatorship. At a clandestine congress on October 12, 1968, in Ibiúna, in the interior of São Paulo, around 1,000 students were arrested.


The Revolutionary Armed Vanguard – Palmares was formed in 1969 by the union between the Popular Revolutionary Vanguard (VPR) and the National Liberation Command (COLINA). The aim was to overthrow the military regime through armed struggle and replace it with socialism.