Delgado, General Humberto

(1906-1965)
   Pioneer air force advocate and pilot, senior officer who opposed the Estado Novo, and oppositionist candidate in the 1958 presidential elections. One of the young army lieutenants who participated in the 28 May 1926 coup that established the military dictatorship, Delgado was a loyal regime supporter during its early phase (1926-44) and into its middle phase (1944-58). An important advocate of civil aeronautics, as well as being a daring pilot in the army air force and assisting the Allies in the Azores in World War II, Delgado spent an important part of his career after 1943 outside Portugal.
   On missions abroad for the government and armed forces, Delgado came to oppose the dictatorship in the l950s. In 1958, he stood as the oppositionist candidate in the presidential elections, against regime candidate Admiral Américo Tomás. In the cities, Delgado received considerable popular support for his campaign, during which he and the coalition of varied political movements, including the Portuguese Communist Party (PCP) and Movement of Democratic Unity, were harassed by the regime police, PIDE. When the managed election results were "tallied," Delgado had won more than 25 percent, including heavy votes in the African colonies; this proved an embarrassment to the regime, which promptly altered electoral law so that universal male suffrage was replaced by a safer electoral college (1959).
   When legal means of opposition were closed to him, Delgado conspired with dissatisfied military officers who promised support but soon abandoned him. The government had him stripped of his job, rank, and career and, in 1959, fearing arrest by the PIDE, Delgado sought political asylum in the embassy of Brazil. Later he fled to South America and organized opposition to the regime, including liaisons and plotting with Henrique Galvão. Delgado traveled to Europe and North Africa to rally Portuguese oppositionists in exile and, in 1961-62, dabbled in coup plots. He had a role in the abortive coup at Beja, in January 1962. Brave to the extent of taking risks against hopeless odds, Delgado dreamed of instigating a popular uprising on his own.
   In 1965, along with his Brazilian secretary, Delgado kept an appointment with destiny on Portugal's Spanish frontier. Neither he nor his companion were seen alive again, and later their bodies were discovered in a shallow grave; investigations since have proved that they were murdered by PIDE agents in a botched kidnapping plot.
   When the true story of what happened to the "Brave General" was revealed in the world press, the opposition's resolve was strengthened and the Estado Novo's image reached a new low. Posthumously, General Delgado has been honored in numerous ways since the Revolution of 25 April 1974.

Historical dictionary of Portugal 3rd ed.. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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