A friend and ally who wears a sash.

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So don your sash with your national colors, slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have an interesting story to tell. Too bad we have no ball to attend.

This is a big attractive stamp. The colors are bold with a lush green that matches the green on the subjects sash. In fact a version of the same portrait used on the stamp is the person’s official portrait on Wikipedia. It is very large stamp, perhaps too large to buy a sheet of and use to mail letters. This stamp is instead made for collectors. 45 years on, I believe few collectors will be able to name the luminary on the stamp. I believe this is just as true in Paraguay, as the fellow on the stamp is Brazilian.

The stamp today is issue A250, a 50 centavo stamp issued in Paraguay on November 8th, 1972 to commemorate the Presidential Summit of the leaders of Paraguay, Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia. This stamp is of Brazilian President Emilio Garrastazo Medici, who presided over Brazil for one 5 year term between 1969 and 1974. It was part of a five stamp issue that honored the various leaders at the summit. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents in mint condition.

This is a stamp that would not be issued today, either in Paraguay or Brazil. Discussing any of the leaders on the stamps in this issue would invite a spirited, mostly negative argument. All of the countries at the summit were basically friendly at the time and aligned with the USA in an anti- Communist stance. The failure of communism would seem to confirm the rightness of that stance but I dare to say that a Cuban stamp from the same period showing Chile’s Allende from the same period would not be nearly as controversial. Despite the failure dripping from it. Weird world we live in.

President Medici was a soldier of Italian decent who moved up through the ranks to being a senior commander. Brazil at the time was ruled by a military junta and Medici was handpicked after the previous president suffered a stroke. The National Assembly was reconvened to rubber stamp the selection. It did this unanimously, with a few abstentions. He was considered by many the most effective of the string of military rulers at the time. The GNP was going up very quickly and there were many very visible public works projects. This was also the case in Paraguay, under long serving President Strossener. Brazil was also growing more urbanized with much sprawl, most notably in Sau Paulo.

The reign was repressive to political opponents. The fruits of the GNP growth were slow to trickle down to the poor. The countries population was growing rapidly which added to the challenges. There is a tendency to be quick to condemn a ruler like President Medici or President Strossener. The fact is though that these military leaders often took charge after a period where leadership and stability were lacking. Stability being the first duty of government, a military takeover is damming evidence the previous administration was mired in failure. The leaders on this issue of stamps, having proceeded through the ranks of their respective countries military were perhaps more influenced by patriotism than the lust for power that grips so many politicians. Many such leaders also failed their people and gave in to cruelty and corruption, but I remain unconvinced that there were better alternatives available. Castro turning over power to his brother becoming a hereditary communist king being quite the contrast to Medici’s one term and peaceful transfer of power.

Well my drink is empty and so it is time to open the conversation in the below comment section. If any of our readers are from Brazil or Paraguay and have memories of Presidents Medici or Strossener, positive or negative, I would be interested. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.