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Diretas Já

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Diretas Já
Diretas Já demonstration in São Paulo on April 16, 1984.
DateMarch 1983 – April 1984
LocationMajor cities throughout Brazil
ParticipantsTancredo Neves, Leonel Brizola, Miguel Arraes, Ulysses Guimarães, André Franco Montoro, Dante de Oliveira, Mário Covas, Gérson Camata, Iris Rezende, Orestes Quércia, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Eduardo Suplicy, Roberto Freire, Fernando Henrique Cardoso among others.
OutcomeIndirect election of Tancredo Neves and approval of a Constituent Assembly

Diretas Já (Portuguese pronunciation: [dʒiˈɾɛtɐz ˈʒa], Direct (Elections) Now) was a 1984 civil movement in Brazil which demanded direct presidential elections.


The movement brought together diverse elements of Brazilian society. Participants came from a broad spectrum of political parties, trade unions, civil, student and journalistic leaderships. Politicians involved included Ulysses Guimarães, Tancredo Neves, André Franco Montoro, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Mário Covas, Teotônio Vilela, Dante de Oliveira, José Serra, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Eduardo Suplicy and Leonel Brizola. The movement also included artists such as Milton Nascimento, Fernanda Montenegro, Gilberto Gil, Bruna Lombardi, Fafá de Belém, and Chico Buarque de Holanda. Journalists such as Henfil, Osmar Santos and Eliel Ramos Maurício covered the assemblies for periodicals Diário de Sorocaba and Folha de Itapetininga. Football team Corinthians, already well known for activism with their Corinthians Democracy movement, printed "Diretas Já" on the back of their jerseys. Sectors of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as other religions, also supported the movement.[1]

First public protest[edit]

The first public protest for the Diretas occurred in the emancipated town of Abreu e Lima, in Pernambuco, on March 31, 1983. Periodicals of the state of Pernambuco organized members of the PMDB party in the city, followed by protests in the capital of the state of Goiás, Goiânia, on June 15, 1983, as well as the Charles Miller Plaza, in front of Pacaembu Stadium, on November 27, 1983, in São Paulo.[2]

Economic situation[edit]

The growth of the movement coincided with a deepening economic crisis, with an annual inflation of 239% in 1983. This led to the mobilization of class entities and unions. The movement linked representatives from diverse political backgrounds under the common cause of direct elections for president. Many pro-status quo politicians, sensitive to their base, had also formed a block of disagreement within the National Renewal Alliance Party (ARENA), the pro-government party, when the Democratic Social Party (PDS) was founded.

The following year, the movement gained critical mass and was able to mobilize openly. On the anniversary of the city of São Paulo (January 25), the first major assembly of the campaign for direct elections for president took place on Praça da Sé, a major public square adjacent to the São Paulo Cathedral, was made possible by André Franco Montoro, governor of São Paulo.

By this time the Military Regime had lost much prestige with the majority of the population.[citation needed] Low ranking members of the military, whose wages had fallen in real terms due to inflation, began voicing their discontent to their superiors.

On April 16, shortly before the vote in Congress which would enable direct elections for president, a final demonstration took place in São Paulo in the Anhangabaú Valley, where an estimated crowd of over 1.5 million people attended, in the largest political demonstration ever seen in Brazil.

During April 1984, President Figueiredo increased press censorship and promoted arrests and police violence. Nonetheless, a vote on the Diretas Já amendment (known as Dante de Oliveira law, after its author) took place on April 25, 1984. Despite 298 votes in favor, with 65 against, 112 pro-government deputies abstained, leaving the Chamber without a quorum, as a result of which the bill died.

Despite the bill's failure, the movement became a catalyst for various opposition forces and a voice for popular discontent. The re-democratization process ended with the return of civil power in 1985 and the approval of a new constitution in 1988, which called for the direct presidential elections in 1989, which were won by Fernando Collor de Mello, the first democratically elected president since 1961.


This is a partial list in chronological order of the Diretas Já demonstrations:

Date Location Number of participants Notes
March 31, 1983 Abreu e Lima, Pernambuco As the first public event of Diretas Já, the number of participants was not high.
June 15, 1983 Goiânia, Goiás 5,000 It took place on Praça do Bandeirante.
June 26, 1983 Teresina, Piauí
August 12, 1983 Pernambuco It took place in several cities of the state.
November 27, 1983 São Paulo, São Paulo 15.000 On this date, Senator Teotônio Vilela died.
December 9, 1983 Ponta Grossa, Paraná 1.000
January 5, 1984 Olinda, Pernambuco
January 12, 1984 Curitiba, Paraná 40,000 This event included the participation of Juan Carlos Quintana, an alleged spokesman of Raúl Alfonsín. It was later discovered that he was an agent of the dictatorship, who infiltrated in order to give the impression that the movement began under international influence.
January 20, 1984 Salvador, Bahia 15,000
January 21, 1984 Vitória, Espírito Santo 10,000
Campinas, São Paulo 12,000
January 25, 1984 São Paulo, São Paulo 300,000 It took place on Praça da Sé.
January 26, 1984 João Pessoa, Paraíba 10,000
January 27, 1984 Olinda, Pernambuco 30,000
January 29, 1984 Maceió, Alagoas 20.000 It took place on Praia da Pajuçara.
February 16, 1984 Belém, Pará 60,000
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 60,000 It was the first march of the Diretas, going from Candelária to Cinelândia.
February 17, 1984 Recife, Pernambuco 12,000 A march took place.
February 18, 1984 Manaus, Amazonas 6,000
February 19, 1984 Capão da Canoa, Rio Grande do Sul 50,000 A march took place.
Osasco, São Paulo 25,000
Rio Branco, Acre 7,000
February 20, 1984 Cuiabá, Mato Grosso 15,000
February 24, 1984 Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais 300,000
February 26, 1984 São Paulo Public events in 300 cities of the state.
Aracaju, Sergipe 30,000
February 29, 1984 Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais 30,000
March 8, 1984 Anápolis, Goiás 20,000
March 21, 1984 Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 200, 000 Another march took place, from Candelária to Cinelândia.
March 22, 1984 Campinas, São Paulo 20,000 It was only a music concert, without any political speeches.
March 23, 1984 Uberlândia, Minas Gerais 40,000
March 24, 1984 Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul 40,000
March 29, 1984 Florianópolis, Santa Catarina 20,000 It took place outside the same church where the Novembrada, a confrontation between the military police and students, had occurred four years earlier.
April 2, 1984 Londrina, Paraná 50,000
April 6, 1984 Natal, Rio Grande do Norte 50,000
April 7, 1984 Petrolina, Pernambuco 30,000
April 10, 1984 Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro 1,000,000 It took place outside the Candelária Church.
April 12, 1984 Goiânia, Goiás 300,000 It took place on Praça do Bandeirante.
April 13, 1984 Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 200,000
April 16, 1984 São Paulo, São Paulo 1,500,000 A march from Praça da Sé to Vale do Anhangabaú followed the event. It was the largest public demonstration in the history of Brazil at that time.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Paulo Markun [in Portuguese]. "Diretas Já - Comício do Anhangabaú, em 16/04/1984". Brado Retumbante. Drupal. Archived from the original on April 25, 2018.
  2. ^ Kapa, Raphael (20 April 2014). "Diretas Já: Há 30 anos, milhões foram às ruas reivindicar o direito de votar" (in Brazilian Portuguese). O Globo. Retrieved 26 July 2023.

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