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Humberto Delgado

Plaque dedicated to General Humberto Delgado in Lisbon's Santa Apolonia train station

Humberto da Silva[1] Delgado, GCL (Portuguese pronunciation: ; 15 May 1906 – 13 February 1965) was a General of the Portuguese Air Force and politician.


  • Early life and military career 1
  • Presidential elections of 1958 2
  • Exile and opposition (1958-1965) 3
  • Murder 4
  • Posthumous honors 5
  • Marriage and offspring 6
  • Popular culture references 7
    • Films 7.1
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life and military career

Delgado was born in Brogueira, Torres Novas. He was the son of Joaquim Delgado and Maria do Ó Pereira and had three younger sisters, Deolinda, Aida and Lídia.

He began his military career by joining the Colégio Militar, in Lisbon, which he attended from 1916 to 1922. He participated in the 28 May 1926 revolution that overthrew the I Republic and created the Military Dictatorship, which would pave the way to the New State. He would be a loyal supporter of the regimen, it was said that he was "an admirer and admired by Salazar", becoming the Director of the Secretariado Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil (National Secretariat of Civil Aeronautics), General-Commander of the Legião Portuguesa, Deputy National Commissar of the Mocidade Portuguesa and Procurator to the Corporative Chamber. He would be the youngest general in Portuguese history. Marcelo Caetano, who was his friend during this time, later would describe Delgado as an "exalted person" and a man who "wore his heart on his sleeve".[2]

He published a violent anti-democratic book, Da Pulhice do 'Homo Sapiens' in 1933, which attacked both the "crooks monarchy" and the "bandits republic" in his subtitle. Delgado wrote in praise of

  • Humberto Delgado at Vidas Lusófonas Website (Portuguese)

External links

Oscar Cardoso PIDE Agent

  1. ^ His identity card, shown on the Portuguese documentary "Crónica do Século", has this name.
  2. ^ Caetano, Marcello, Minhas Memórias de Salazar, Lisboa, Editorial Verbo, 1977
  3. ^ Revista AR, Nº 44, June 1941. Delgado wrote: “O ex-cabo, ex-pintor, o homem que não nasceu em leito de renda amolecedor que passará à História como uma revelação genial das possibilidades humanas no campo político, diplomático, social, civil e militar, quando a vontade de um ideal se junta a audácia, a valentia, a virilidade numa palavra.”
  4. ^ Delgado, Frederico Rosa, Humberto Delgado - Biografia do General Sem Medo, Lisboa, Esfera dos Livros, 2008
  5. ^ "Under the Eucalyptus Trees - TIME". 14 May 1965. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ Rodrigo de Magalhães e Menezes Ortigão de Oliveira - A Família Ramalho Ortigão, Author's Edition, 1st Edition, Porto, 2000



Popular culture references

  • Humberto Ivo de Andrade da Silva Delgado, born at São Sebastião da Pedreira, Lisbon, on 24 November 1933, airline pilot for TAP Portugal (Portuguese Aerial Transportation).
  • Iva Humberta de Andrade da Silva Delgado, who always championed her father's cause, unmarried and without issue.
  • Maria Humberta de Andrade da Silva Delgado, unmarried and without issue.

Delgado was married to Maria Iva Theriaga Leitão Tavares de Andrade (born around 1910), they had three children:[8]

Marriage and offspring

In 1990, Humberto Delgado was posthumously promoted to Marshal of the Portuguese Air Force,[7] the only person to hold this rank. The square where the main entrance of Lisbon Zoo is located is named after him. Delgado mortal remains were translated to the National Pantheon at 5 October 1990, following a decision of the Assembly of the Republic.

Sculpture of Humberto Delgado (Porto)

Posthumous honors

Some historians claim that the Spanish authorities knew of the Portuguese secret police's involvement and staged the decomposing corpses' discovery by two local boys.

Casimiro Monteiro, a PIDE agent, shot and killed General Delgado, and strangled his secretary de Campos (Monteiro was also involved in the killing of Eduardo Mondlane, founder of Frelimo, Mozambique's Liberation Movement). Salazar, who approved the assassination, when told of the killings, said simply, "Uma maçada" ("Such a bother"). Later appearing on national television Salazar claimed ignorance of the secret police's involvement and blamed quarreling opposition forces for the killings.

After being lured into an ambush by the regime's secret police (PIDE) near the border town of Olivenza, Delgado and his Brazilian secretary, Arajaryr Moreira de Campos, were murdered on 13 February 1965 while trying to clandestinely enter Portugal. The official version claimed that Delgado was shot and killed in self-defence despite Delgado being unarmed and his secretary strangled. Their bodies were found some two months later, near the Spanish village of Villanueva del Fresno.


In 1964, he founded the Portuguese National Liberation Front in Rome, stating in public that the only solution to end the Estado Novo would be by a military coup, while many others advocated a national uprising approach.

Delgado was expelled from the Portuguese military, and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy before going into exile, spending much of it in Brazil and later in Algeria, as a guest of Ben Bella.

Exile and opposition (1958-1965)

His outspoken attitude earned him the epithet of "General sem Medo" ("Fearless General" or literally "General without fear"). Nevertheless, Delgado was ultimately credited with only around 25% of the votes, with 75% in favor of Tomás.[6] Most neutral observers believed that Delgado would have won had the election been conducted honestly, and that he only lost due to massive ballot-box stuffing for Tomás by the PIDE. Nonetheless, Salazar was worried enough that he transferred election of the president to the legislature, which was firmly controlled by the regime.

As incumbent president Craveiro Lopes had been coerced not to run to reelection by Salazar, Delgado faced naval minister and staunch conservative Américo Tomás in the 1958 presidential election. Delgado campaigned vigorously, even though he faced nearly impossible odds. In a famous interview on 10 May 1958, in the Chave d'Ouro café, when asked what would be his attitude towards Salazar, Delgado made one of the most famous quotations in Portuguese politics: "Obviamente, demito-o!" ("Obviously, I'll sack him!"). He was well aware that the president's power to remove the prime minister from office was essentially the only check on Salazar's power.

His passage as a Military Attaché and Aeronautic Attaché to the Portuguese Embassy in Washington, D.C. in 1952 pushed him into the defence of democratic ideals, and inspired him to run as the democratic opposition's candidate for the Portuguese presidency in 1958.[5]

Presidential elections of 1958

[4], by the occasion of the Portuguese-British Agreement.World War II islands during Azores However, with time his sympathies leaned thowards the Allies field. He came to the [3]

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