September 1902: Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazilian president with Czech roots, is born

Juscelino Kubitschek at the inauguration

Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek, who had Czech ancestry, was born on 12 September 1902. He is best known for building a new federal capital, Brasilia.

Juscelino Kubitschek, commonly known by the initials JK, was brought up by his schoolteacher mother, Julia Kubitschek, who was partly of Czech descent, after his father died young. He himself graduated in medicine.

Juscelino Kubitschek de Oliveira | Photo: Governo do Brasil/Wikimedia Commons,  public domain

Kubitschek visited Prague in 1930 and was apparently surprised to find so many people with the same surname in the phone book.

Ancestors of his mother are said to have come from the Bohemian town of Třeboň, though evidence for this has not been found in the archives.

JK was mayor of the city of Belo Horizonte and later the governor of the state of Minas Gerais. He ascended to the presidency in 1956 and held the post for five years.

His greatest achievement was initiating the construction of a new federal capital of Brazil, Brasilia, far from the major cities on the coasts, in just a few years.

When there was a military coup in Brazil in 1964, Kubitschek had to go into exile and lived for many years in Europe and the United States.

Nine years after returning to his homeland, he died in a car crash that some regard as suspicious. Some 350,000 people attended his funeral.