Fernando Henrique Cardoso

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Fernando Henrique Cardoso
34th President of Brazil
In office
1 January 1995 – 1 January 2003
Vice President Marco Maciel
Preceded by Itamar Franco
Succeeded by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Minister of Finance
In office
19 May 1993 – 30 March 1994
President Itamar Franco
Preceded by Eliseu Resende
Succeeded by Rubens Ricupero
Minister of External Relations
In office
5 October 1992 – 20 May 1993
President Itamar Franco
Preceded by Celso Lafer
Succeeded by Luiz Felipe Lampreia
President of the
Brazilian Social Democracy Party
In office
Preceded by Party founded
Succeeded by Franco Montoro
Member of the Federal Senate
from São Paulo
In office
15 March 1983 – 5 October 1992
Preceded by Franco Montoro
Succeeded by Eva Blay
Personal details
Born Fernando Henrique Cardoso
(1931-06-18) 18 June 1931 (age 83)
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party PSDB
Spouse(s) Ruth Cardoso
(1953–2008; her death)
Patrícia Kundrát
Children Paulo Henrique Cardoso
Luciana Cardoso
Beatriz Cardoso
Residence Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo
Alma mater University of São Paulo
Occupation Diplomat
Profession Sociologist
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website http://www.ifhc.org.br/

Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Portuguese: [feɾˈnɐ̃dw ẽjˈʁiki kaʁˈdozu]; born June 18, 1931), also known by his initials FHC ([ˈɛfjɐˌɡaˈse]), was the 34th President of Brazil and served for two terms from January 1, 1995 to January 1, 2003. An accomplished sociologist, professor and politician,[1] Cardoso was awarded in 2000 with the prestigious Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.[2]

Personal and professional life[edit]

Fernando Henrique Cardoso walking hand in hand with his father, 1930s.

Cardoso descends from wealthy Portuguese immigrants. Some of his ancestors were politicians during the Empire of Brazil.[3] He is also of Black African descent, through a Black great-great-grandmother and a mulatto great-grandmother.[4] Cardoso described himself as "slightly mulatto" and allegedly said he has "a foot in the kitchen" (a nod to 19th century Brazilian domestic slavery).[5][6]

Born in Rio de Janeiro, he has lived in São Paulo for most of his life. Cardoso is a widower (he was married to Ruth Vilaça Correia Leite Cardoso until her death June 24, 2008) and has four children.[7] Educated as a sociologist, he was a Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Universidade de São Paulo.[8] He was President of the International Sociological Association (ISA), from 1982 to 1986. He is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton),[9] an honorary foreign member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has penned several books.

He was also Associate Director of Studies in the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and then visiting professor at the Collège de France and later at the Paris-Nanterre University.[10] He later lectured at United Kingdom and United States' universities including Cambridge University, Stanford University, Brown University and the University of California, Berkeley.[10] He is fluent in four languages: Portuguese, English, French, and Spanish.[10]

After his presidency, he was appointed to a five-year term (2003–2008) as professor-at-large at Brown University's Watson Institute for International Studies, where he is now on the board of overseers. Cardoso is a founding member of the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy's Advisory Board.[citation needed] In February 2005, he gave the fourth annual Kissinger Lecture on Foreign Policy and International Relations at the Library of Congress, Washington DC on "Dependency and Development in Latin America.[11] In 2005, Cardoso was selected by the British magazine Prospect as being one of the world's top one hundred living intellectuals.[12][13][14][15]

Academic career[edit]

Cardoso is a well-known professor and intellectual. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Universidade de São Paulo in 1952, from where he also earned a Master's and a Doctorate in Sociology. His doctoral thesis, under the supervision of Florestan Fernandes, examined the institution of slavery in Southern Brazil, critiquing the dominant approach of Gilberto Freyre to the topic through a marxist perspective. It has since become a classic on the subject. Cardoso has also received the Livre-Docência degree in 1963, the most senior level of academic recognition in Brazil, also from Universidade de São Paulo. In 1968, he received the title of Cathedratic Professor, holding the chair of Political Science at Universidade de São Paulo.[16]

As he continued his academic career abroad in Chile and France after the tightening of Brazilian military dictatorship, Cardoso published several books and papers on state bureaucracy, industrial elites and, particularly, dependency theory. His work on dependency would be his most acclaimed contribution to sociology and development studies, specially in the United States.[17] After presiding the International Sociological Association from 1982 to 1986 Cardoso was selected as a Fulbright Program 40th anniversary distinguished fellow and in that capacity was a visiting scholar and lectured at Columbia University on democracy in Brazil.[18] Cardoso currently gives speeches and classes abroad.[19] In June 2013 he was elected as a member of Academia Brasileira de Letras. He said his election was due to recognition for his academic achievements, rather than his political career.[20][21]


After his return to Brazil, Fernando Henrique engaged with the then burgeoning democratic opposition to the regime both as an intellectual and as a political activist. He became Senator of the state of São Paulo for the former Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), in 1982, substituting as a suplent the newly elected São Paulo governor Franco Montoro. In 1985, he ran unsuccessfully for mayor of São Paulo against former President Jânio Quadros. Ahead in the polls, he let himself be photographed in the mayor's chair before the elections. Some attribute his loss in the election to this episode.[22]

Elected for the Senate in 1986 for the Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), which substituted MDB after Brazilian re-democratization, he joined a group of parliamentarians of PMDB who abandoned the party in order to create the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB). This was a result of a right-wing shift of PMDB previous positions after the party became inflated with politicians that previously collaborated with the dictatorship. As a Senator, Cardoso took part in the 1987-1988 National Constituent Assembly that drafted and approved Brazil's current Constitution in the wake of the country's re-democratization. In early stage the Constituent Assembly's work (from February to March 1987), Cardoso led the committee that drafted the Assembly's internal rules of procedure, including the procedural rules on the drafting of the Constitution itself. The Rules of Procedure were adopted by the Assembly and published on 25 March 1987. Until 1992, Cardoso served as Leader of the PSDB in the Senate. From October 1992 to May 1993, he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Itamar Franco (PMDB).

From May 1993 to April 1994, he was Minister of Finance. He resigned in April 1994 to launch his presidential campaign. In the 3 October election, he won the presidency in a single round with 54 percent of the vote, more than double that of his nearest opponent, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. After the constitution was amended to allow the president to succeed himself, he won a second term almost as easily in 1998, taking 53 percent of the vote to Lula's 31.7 percent. To date, he is the only president to win office without a runoff since the restoration of popular elections in 1989.

Cardoso was succeeded in 2003 by Lula da Silva, who was running for President for the fourth time and came in second on his previous attempts. Lula won in the runoff against the Cardoso-supported candidate José Serra. Lula's election has been interpreted as a result of Cardoso's low rates of approval during his second term.

Administration (1995–2003)[edit]

Cardoso with Russian President Vladimir Putin on January 14, 2002.

Cardoso, often nicknamed "FHC", was elected with the support of a heterodox alliance of his own Social Democratic Party, the PSDB, and two right-wing parties, the Liberal Front Party (PFL) and the Brazilian Labour Party (PTB). Brazil's largest party, the centrist Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), joined Cardoso's governing coalition after the election, as did the right-wing PPB, the Brazilian Progressive Party, in 1996.

Party loyalty was not always strong, and deputies and senators belonging to the parties in the coalition did not always vote with the government. Cardoso had difficulty, at times, gaining sufficient support for some of his legislative priorities, despite the fact that his coalition held an overwhelming majority of congressional seats. Nevertheless, many constitutional amendments were passed during his presidency.

His presidency saw institutional advancements on the promotion of human rights, starting with the creation of a national secretariat and a new government programme, discussed with the civil society, to address the issue. On January 8, 1996, he issued the controversial Decree 1775, which created a framework for the clear demarcation of indigenous reservations, which as part of the process opened indigenous territories to counterclaims by adjacent landowners.In 2000, Cardoso demanded the disclosure of some classified military files concerning Operation Condor, a network of South American military dictatorships that kidnapped and assassinated political opponents.[23]

FHC was the first Brazilian President to start a program to address the inequality issue in Brazil—the enormous gap between rich an poor in the country. He started the following programs: Bolsa Escola, the Auxílio Gás, the Bolsa Alimentação, and the Cartão Alimentação.[24]

His wife, Mrs. Ruth Cardoso, gave an special impulse to the unification of the money transference programs aiming to get people out of poverty and hunger in Brazil.[25][26][27] program based on the idea that educating the poor could get them out of poverty (see Bolsa Escola in the References).[28]

A feature of Cardoso's administration was the deepening of the privatization program, launched by former president Fernando Collor de Mello. During his first term several government-owned enterprises in areas such as steel milling, telecommunications and mining, such as Telebras and Companhia Vale do Rio Doce were sold to the private sector, marking the deepest process of denationalisation in Brazilian history amidst a polarized political debate between "neoliberals" and "developmentalists". Ironically, this time Cardoso was against the latter group, generating uproar among former academic colleagues and political allies that accused him of reneging his previous work as an intellectual. Economists still contend over its long-term effects; research shows that the companies sold by the government achieved better profitability as a result of their disengagement from the State.[29]

President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former first lady of Brazil, Ruth Cardoso (right), during the delivery of the presidential sash to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, January 1, 2003.

Despite the selling of public capital, the years 1995 to 2002 witnessed a rise of the total public debt from 30% to 55.5% of GDP. Economists aligned with his government have argued that this was due to external factors outside the control of the administration at the time, such as the devaluation of the Brazilian real and the growth of the share of the debt denominated in US dollars.[30] Nevertheless, the devaluation of the currency was an instrument of monetary policy used right after his reelection, when the real pegged to the dollar led to a financial crisis that saw the country lose much of its foreign reserves and raise its interest rates on government bonds to very high levels as he tried to stabilize the currency under a new free-floating regime. With this economic shift, the greatest achievement of Cardoso - his landmark lowering of inflation - was maintained, but his popularity plummeted.

Using his previous experience as Minister of Foreign Affairs and his prestige as an internationally famous sociologist, he was respected on the world scene, building friendships with such leaders as Bill Clinton and Ernesto Zedillo. Although he was respected abroad, in Brazil, he had problems gaining support for his government priorities in Congress and among people in general. As a result, major reforms planned by the executive branch, such as changes in the tax system and in social security, were only partially approved and only after long discussion. Although claiming to be still a supporter of social democracy, his economic policies led people on the left to identify him with neoliberalism and right-wing politics, terms that often carry a very negative connotation in Latin American political debate and academic circles.

He also experienced personal problems with former ally Itamar Franco, his predecessor that later became Governor of Minas Gerais and a fierce opponent of his administrative reforms that saw the states lose its capacity to contract debt and forced a reduction on local government spending. Cardoso was also criticized for amending the Constitution to his own benefit, allowing him to stay eight years in office. His popularity in his first four years, gained with the success of Plano Real, decreased during his last four years as the currency crisis was followed by lower economic growth and employment rates, larger public debt, growing political dissent and, finally, an energy crisis caused by an unexpected draught and low levels of investment on appropriate infrastructure. He publicly admitted that he could have done more for public security and for the creation of new jobs, but defended his policies in areas such as health and education.

After the Presidency[edit]

Former Presidents (from right), Sarney, Collor and Cardoso, 2008
Cardoso speaks at the National Congress of Brazil in 2009
With Federico Reyes Heroles at the Global Governance event at the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Mexico City, May 2012.

After stepping down from office, he has assumed his position as a senior leader of his party and is a leading public voice in the opposition to the Partido dos Trabalhadores government, writing extensively on Brazilian politics for newspapers, giving lectures and interviews. Nevertheless, his relatively low popularity rates among the general population has made his legacy a mixed blessing to his political allies, who are somewhat reluctant to embrace it wholeheartedly during elections, specially on the topics of privatization and social policy. In 2006, he helped the campaign of the PSDB candidate for the Presidency, Geraldo Alckmin, and has reiterated that he does not wish to run for office again.

He dedicates his time to a personal institute created by him in São Paulo, based on the model of bodies created by former Presidents of the United States, has written two books about his experience as President of Brazil and started to advocate for a relaxation on criminal laws relating to drugs, generating both criticism and praise. He has been giving lectures at Brown University, about Brazilian economic policy, urban development, and deforestation and taught as a guest lecturer at Sciences Po in Paris.[31] Also, in 2007 he became a member of the editorial board of the Latin American policy publication Americas Quarterly, for which he is a regular contributor.[32]

Since leaving the Brazilian presidency, Cardoso has been involved in a number of international organisations and initiatives. He is a member of the Club of Madrid and was its president from 2003 to 2006.[33] He is a member of the Fondation Chirac's honour committee,[34] ever since the foundation was launched in 2008 by former French president Jacques Chirac in order to promote world peace. He is also a member of the board of directors of World Resources Institute.[35]

Cardoso has a particular interest in drug policy. He served on the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy and later chaired the Global Commission on Drug Policy.

Cardoso is also a member of The Elders, a group of independent global leaders who work together on peace and human rights issues.[36] In August 2009, he travelled to Israel and the West Bank as the head of an Elders delegation that also included Ela Bhatt, Gro Harlem Brundtland, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu.[37]

In 2013 he became a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters.


Selected works[edit]

  • Cardoso, Fernando Henrique (2006) The Accidental President of Brazil, PublicAffairs, ISBN 1-58648-324-2
  • Cardoso, Fernando Henrique (2001) Charting a New Course: The Politics of Globalization and Social Transformation, Rowman & Littlefield, ISBN 0-7425-0893-5
  • Goertzel, Ted G. (1999) Fernando Henrique Cardoso: Reinventing Democracy in Brazil, Boulder: Lynne Rienner.
  • Cardoso, Fernando Henrique and Faletto, Enzo (1979) "Dependency and Development in Latin America", University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-03193-8


  1. ^ MSNBC News-Newsweek International: 'Che Guevara In Tweed'
  2. ^ http://www.fundacionprincipedeasturias.org/ing/04/premiados/trayectorias/trayectoria656.html Fernando Henrique Cardoso
  3. ^ KOIFMAN, Fábio. Presidentes Do Brasil: De Deodoro A Fhc.
  4. ^ Afinal, o Brasil é racista ou não?
  5. ^ Chronology for Afro-Brazilians in Brazil
  7. ^ "BERGAMO, Mônica. FHC decide reconhecer oficialmente filho que teve há 18 anos com jornalista. São Paulo: Folha Online, 15 de novembro de 2009". 
  8. ^ Biography at Brown University
  9. ^ Biography at the Clinton Global Initiative
  10. ^ a b c "Fernando Henrique Cardoso's biography on the Harry Walker Agency Speakers' Bureau website". Retrieved 2007-04-28. 
  11. ^ News from the Library of Congress
  12. ^ Interview with Al Jazeera English's Riz Khan on YouTube
  13. ^ Fernando Henrique Biography (Portuguese)
  14. ^ Instituto Fenrnando Henrique Cardoso
  15. ^ President Cardoso's lecture at the Clinton School of Public Service: Democracy Today: The Experience of Latin America (Podcast)
  16. ^ Biography of Fernando Henrique Cardoso at Brown University
  17. ^ http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2502945?uid=3737664&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21100858444611
  18. ^ http://www.fulbright.org/node/152
  19. ^ Jô Soares interviews Fernando Henrique Cardoso on YouTube
  20. ^ http://g1.globo.com/jornal-da-globo/noticia/2013/06/fernando-henrique-cardoso-e-eleito-para-academia-brasileira-letras.html
  21. ^ http://www.academia.org.br/abl/cgi/cgilua.exe/sys/start.htm?infoid=15016&sid=960
  22. ^ http://www.politicaparapoliticos.com.br/interna.php?t=758706
  23. ^ Latin America in the 1970s: "Operation Condor", an International Organization for Kidnapping Opponents, L'Humanité in English, December 2, 2006, transl. January 1, 2007
  24. ^ Fernando Henrique anuncia cadastro único e auxílio-gás
  25. ^ BBC
  26. ^ Folha de S. Paulo
  27. ^ Revista Exame
  28. ^ The World Bank (2005). Brazil's Bolsa Escola Program: the Role of Local Governance in Decentralized Implementation. Retrieved on 02.02.14 from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/SOCIALPROTECTION/Resources/SP-Discussion-papers/Safety-Nets-DP/0542.pdf
  29. ^ Os efeitos da privatização sobre o desempenho econômico e financeiro das empresas privatizadas (Portuguese)
  30. ^ http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2004/wp04156.pdf
  31. ^ [1]
  32. ^ [2]
  33. ^ The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former heads of state and government.
  34. ^ Fondation Chirac's honour committee
  35. ^ World Resources Institute Biosketch of Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Accessed March 27, 2012.
  36. ^ "Fernando H Cardoso". TheElders.org. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 
  37. ^ "The Elders visit to the Middle East – 25-28 August". TheElders.org. 2009-08-21. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 
  38. ^ Slovak republic website, State honours : 1st Class in 2001 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  39. ^ [3]

External links[edit]

Assembly seats
Preceded by
Franco Montoro
Member of the Federal Senate
from São Paulo

Succeeded by
Eva Blay
Government offices
Preceded by
Celso Lafer
Minister of External Relations
Succeeded by
Luiz Felipe Lampreia (acting)
Preceded by
Eliseu Resende
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Rubens Ricupero
Party political offices
Preceded by
Party created
President of the PSDB
Succeeded by
Franco Montoro
Preceded by
Mário Covas
PSDB Party presidential candidate
1994 (Won) and 1998 (Won)
Succeeded by
José Serra
Political offices
Preceded by
Itamar Franco
President of Brazil
1 January 1995 – 1 January 2003
Succeeded by
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva