"If, instead of one, Brazil had had five Montenegros, it would be an infinitely better country, more prepared for the future." The statement was made by journalist and writer Fernando Morais, regarding Brazilian military officer Casimiro Montenegro, founder of the Brazilian Aeronautics Technological Institute (ITA), one of the Brazil’s most important aviation technology training centers.
Morais discussed the subject during the 2nd Brazilian Congress for Industrial Innovation, held this week in the southeastern Brazilian city of São Paulo.
Montenegro is the character in the last book by the writer, entitled "Montenegro, as aventuras do marechal que fez uma revolução nos céus do Brasil" (Montenegro, the adventures of the marshal who revolutionized Brazilian skies), which was released late last year.
The publication will be translated into English through an initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Relations, according to Morais.
Montenegro, a native of the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará who arrived in São Paulo at a little over 20 years of age, started his career as a military pilot in the 1920s. A follower of the political orientation of former Brazilian president Getúlio Vargas, Montenegro was among the military officers who helped Vargas take over power in Brazil in the 1930s.
He also created the Brazilian airmail service. Before him, mail in Brazil was only sent by ground. It was Montenegro who convinced mayors in different regions of Brazil to build runways for aircraft to land on.
The idea of founding the ITA came up after the official became acquainted with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in the United States. He faced government resistance and bureaucratic issues before he managed to put his idea into practice, in the 1950s.
He brought to Brazil specialists from approximately 18 different countries to teach aviation technology to Brazilians. In its initial years, according to Morais’ book, the ITA met some resistance from Brazilian government officials, who insisted on calling teachers and students communists.
The institute finally gave birth to Embraer, a company that now ranks among the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers. "Brazil has grade A human capital, which enabled Montenegro to do what he did," said the writer to an audience comprised mainly of businessmen.
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