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Fernando Cardoso: 1931—: Sociologist, Politician

Introduced The New Plano Real

Cardoso's plan was rooted in the use of a currency which was continually readjusted to the U.S. dollar. The plano real was introduced in 1994, during his last year as finance minister. According to an excerpt from Goertzel's biography of Cardoso, Cardoso recognized the immediate effect of the real on his nation. "The society got tired of inflation," the president told Goertzel. "There came a point when they were fed up with it. At that point, we needed something to close the circuit. That was the plano real. We took a chance on it, and we won because the country understood. It was fantastic. Within a week, everyone knew what it meant." Once Brazil had a hard currency system, Cardoso exuded optimism for Brazil's future and for the fundamental reforms that would be necessary to achieve it. The nation responded by electing him president in October of 1994.

Cardoso triumphed in the election over his more charismatic opponent, Labor Party candidate Luis Ignacio da Silva. Brazilian voters could understand Cardoso's plans—in fact, they already had already been put into action. Brazil's business leaders overlooked Cardoso's liberal politics and education in Marxism and gave him their support, mainly because he had already proven his understanding of Brazil's complex economic problems and his preparedness to deal with them. While some of some leaders associated with the former military regimes found reasons to support him, so did many leftists, who felt his socialist convictions were still intact. Cardoso considers his "strong personality," bold vision for Brazil's future, and motivational and decision-making skills among the qualities that voters twice elected him for, according his interview with Ted Goertzel. Some Brazilians liken Cardoso's wife, anthropologist Ruth Correa Leite, to Eleanor Roosevelt, former first lady of the United States. The couple has three adult children and several grandchildren.

Cardoso continued his regimen to get Brazil's economy back on track. He privatized some industries and was active in attracting foreign trade to the nation, which had previously avoided foreign imports. Cardoso's policies benefitted the poorest Brazilians the most, bringing service-industry wages up. Because they had to pay an increased cost for services, the middle class felt the greatest pinch. In 1994 the inflation rate was 50 percent per month; by 1998, Cardoso had reduced it to three percent per year. Brazil became South America's cornerstone trade market—billions of dollars in foreign trade and investment poured into the nation. In fewer than four years, Cardoso had made great strides toward stabilizing the nation. So well-liked was Cardoso that voters improved an amendment to the Brazilian constitution that allowed him to serve a second term as president. This second victory was not as easy for Cardoso as his first election was.

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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