Cardoso, Fernando Henrique

Cardoso, Fernando Henrique
born June 18, 1931, Rio de Janeiro, Braz.

President of Brazil (1994–2003).

Born into a wealthy military family, he taught sociology at the University of São Paulo and was a prominent member of the left-wing intellectual opposition when Brazil was under military rule, though he turned more centrist after civilian rule was restored. In 1993 he became finance minister and supervised the creation of the Real Plan, an effective anti-inflation package that helped him gain the presidency in 1994. He has worked for privatization of state-owned companies and increased foreign investment. In 1998 he became the first president in Brazilian history to be reelected. A foreign-exchange crisis in 1999 damaged Brazil's growth prospects. In 2002 Brazilians elected Luiz Silva to the presidency.

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▪ 1995

      Not long after the military took control of the government in Brazil in 1964, a young sociologist was blindfolded, arrested, and interrogated. After being blacklisted from teaching in the state university system he went into exile and continued his academic work, in which he examined the relationship between the less developed, "dependent," nations and the dominant West. He gained a reputation as a brilliant sociologist and became one of the leading lights of Brazil's left-wing intellectual opposition. That he would run for president soon after the reestablishment of civilian rule might not be surprising, but that he would do so with the overwhelming support of the nation's business establishment—and that foreign multinational corporations would beat a path to his door soon after his election—might be. Yet Fernando Cardoso had shown that he was willing to defy expectations.

      Fernando Henrique Cardoso was born in Rio de Janeiro on June 18, 1931, to a well-to-do military family. He became a professor of sociology at the University of São Paulo in 1958. After he left the country in 1964, he taught at universities in Santiago, Chile, and Paris. Upon his return to Brazil in 1968 Cardoso founded a research institute, the Brazilian Centre for Analysis and Planning, which was bombed by right-wing terrorists in the early 1970s.

      Cardoso entered politics in 1986 when he won a seat as senator from São Paulo; he gained a reputation as a centrist who was willing to compromise. In 1988 he cofounded the centre-left Party of Brazilian Social Democracy, which ran on a clean-government platform. In 1992, after Pres. Fernando Collor de Mello was impeached on corruption charges and Itamar Franco took over, Cardoso resigned his Senate seat and joined the Cabinet as foreign minister. In May 1993 Cardoso allowed himself to be drafted as finance minister—the fourth in 13 months. He oversaw the complicated political negotiations that produced the Real Plan, an anti-inflation package that introduced a new currency, the real.

      In March 1994 Cardoso announced his bid for the presidency, and he stepped down from his post as finance minister. Inflation was running at 45% in June, and when the Real Plan went into effect on July 1, Cardoso was trailing his closest opponent by 20 points. As inflation plummeted to less than 2% in September, however, his popularity soared. Many observers suspected that the business sector had held a lid on prices to boost Cardoso's campaign and, further, that painful economic restructuring loomed after the election.

      During his campaign Cardoso had called for moving Brazil away from a state-dominated economy and toward increased foreign investment, more rapid privatization of state-owned companies, and large-scale funding of education and social services. Many of Cardoso's beliefs had changed over time, but his commitment to improving the living standards of the nation's poor had not, even though he had come to believe that a free-market economy was the best means to that end. (CHERYL L. COLLINS)

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▪ president of Brazil
born June 18, 1931, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

      Brazilian sociologist, teacher, and politician who was president of Brazil from 1995 to 2003.

      Cardoso became a professor of sociology at the University of São Paulo in 1958, but the military government that took power in 1964 blacklisted him from teaching in the country's university system. He went into exile, teaching at universities in Santiago, Chile, and Paris and continuing his research into the relationship between developing countries and the West. He returned to Brazil in 1968, founded the Brazilian Centre for Analysis and Planning, and established a reputation as one of the foremost members of the left-wing opposition.

      Cardoso entered politics in 1986 when he was elected senator from São Paulo. In 1988 he cofounded the centre-left Brazilian Social Democratic Party. In 1992, after President Fernando Collor de Mello was impeached for corruption and was replaced by Itamar Franco, Cardoso resigned his seat in the Senate to become foreign minister. In May 1993 he became finance minister, overseeing negotiations that produced a number of anti-inflation measures.

      Cardoso entered the race for the presidency in 1994 and with the support of the nation's business community won a decisive victory. During his administration he emphasized further economic reform, including privatization and increased foreign investment, as well as funding for education and social services. In 1997 voters approved an amendment to the constitution that allowed the president to hold consecutive terms, and in 1998 Cardoso became the first Brazilian president to be reelected for a second four-year term. By this time, however, Brazil was facing severe financial problems, and the president was forced to pursue an austerity plan, which included spending cuts and tax increases, to reduce the budget deficit and to secure international loans. Barred constitutionally from seeking a third consecutive term, Cardoso left office in 2003.

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Universalium. 2010.

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