Fernando Henrique Cardoso

President of Brazil (1995-2002). Sociologist and intellectual of great prestige and professor of the University of São Paulo

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Fernando Henrique Cardoso is a sociologist, politician, political analyst and philosopher. Professor Emeritus of the University of São Paulo and the University of Paris I. He was a civil servant working for CEPAL and senator between 1983 and 1992. He was also Foreign and Finance Minister and in 1995, he was elected president of the Republic of Brazil.

In 1964, after the coup d’etat, he had to go into exile. Five years later, he founded the Brazilian Planning and Analysis Centre, bringing together progressive intellectuals and academics from Brazil.

Senator for São Paulo and founding member of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, in 1992, he was named Foreign Minister in Itamar Franco’s coalition government. Minister of Finance between 1993 and 1994, he managed to bring down inflation spectacularly in just under a year, a success that helped him to victory in the 1994 presidential elections and to his later re-election in 1998.

During his first mandate, he kept inflation and the currency stable, he embarked on a privatization plan and put an end to the monopolies in the hydrocarbon and telecommunications sectors. In May 1997, he got parliamentary support to modify the Constitution and introduce the re-election of executive offices, which enabled him to stand for re-election. After winning again in the 1998 elections, Cardoso became the first president to be re-elected in the history of Brazil.

Despite the Russian and Asian economic crisis of 1998, having devalued the currency by 90% in 1999 and the difficulties created in 2000 by overseas affairs, like the Argentine crisis, Cardoso’s management allowed Brazil to close 2000 with growth of 4% and inflation at 5.5%. Unemployment fell from 7.6% in 1999 to 6.8% in 2000, but social indicators did not speak well of his management and unemployment was to spike again in the following years. From 2001, corruption scandals and the breakup of alliances with other parties forced him to re-shuffle his cabinet on several occasions. In 2003, he lost his post to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

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