2 minute read

Fernando Cardoso: 1931—: Sociologist, Politician

Blacklisted From Teaching

Upon his return to Brazil at the end of 1968, Cardoso taught political science for a short time at his alma mater, the University of Sao Paulo. In 1969 he was arrested, banned from teaching at any Brazilian university, and his political and civil rights were suspended. Cardoso and his fellow liberals and intellectuals then formed a social science think tank called the Brazilian Analysis and Planning Center (also known as the Brazilian Center for Analysis and Research, and Cebrap). Rather than shrinking into the background, he became known as one of the most prominent members of the left-wing opposition. The group's Sao Paulo headquarters were bombed in 1975 by right-wing terrorists. Cardoso was summoned to military police headquarters, where he was blindfolded and interrogated about a meeting he had had in Mexico City with a leading Belgian intellectual. When his blindfold was removed, he witnessed a man being tortured.

After twenty years of successive military rulers who drove the country's inflation rate out of control, a general election re-instituted a direct-election system. In 1986 Cardoso won a Senatorial seat for Sao Paulo. In his first days in politics, Cardoso's colleagues were impressed at his high level of intelligence. He brought an unusual level of intellect from his academic days into his inspired Senate speeches. In his first speech, he quoted form the works of German sociologist Max Weber, which proposed the need to attempt the impossible to achieve the possible. In 1988, he co-founded the moderately-leftist Brazilian Social Democratic Party.

Brazil's President Fernando Collor de Mello was impeached for corruption in 1992 and was replaced by Itamar Franco. President Franco appointed Cardoso Foreign Minister, in part because of his established intellectual and political reputation and in part because he is multi-lingual. (In addition to his native Portuguese, he speaks English, French, and Spanish.) In May of 1993, Cardoso was shocked to hear that Franco had appointed him Finance Minister. He called Franco to complain, but Franco told him "the public response has been excellent," according to an excerpt from Cardoso's biography located online at Brazzil magazine. Cardoso tempted fate by taking the position. It seemed a hopeless assignment for a sociologist after the long line of economists that had failed to halt inflation. Cardoso put together a team of the country's leading economists, but ignored the advice of those who told him it was impossible to draw back inflation before the end of Franco's term.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) BiographyFernando Cardoso: 1931—: Sociologist, Politician Biography - Blacklisted From Teaching, Introduced The New Plano Real, Crumbling World Markets Threatened Brazil