3 minute read

Fernando Cardoso: 1931—: Sociologist, Politician Biography

Blacklisted From Teaching, Introduced The New Plano Real, Crumbling World Markets Threatened Brazil

Fernando Henrique Cardoso became the first reelected president of Brazil, based on the strides he made in modernizing the nation. During his terms, he emphasized economic reform, privatization, foreign investment, and funding for social services and education, and did so without a hint of the corruption that had plagued Brazil's former leaders. He is best known for his economic policies that succeeded in halting the chronic hyperinflation that plagued the country. The inflation rate in 1994 was 50 percent a month; by 1998, Cardoso had reduced it to three percent per year, but was facing criticism for his austere economic reforms. He also introduced a new stable currency, the plano real. Under Cardoso's leadership, Brazil has become the largest developing-world trading partner of the United States. Trained as a political sociologist, Cardoso sympathized with left-wing politics as a student and professor, and spent the late 1960s and 1970s blacklisted by the nation's former military-dictatorship government.

Cardoso was born on June 18, 1931 in Rio de Janeiro. His father, Leoncio, and grandfather were both military generals. During his time as an officer in the Brazilian army, Leoncio Cardoso was imprisoned briefly for his involvement in a democratic revolt, though he retired as brigadier general. Leoncio Cardoso was happy to see his son pursue sociology and academia rather than follow in his military footsteps. The president has kept much about his early life private, though it is known he studied sociology at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil and earned his doctorate in 1961. As a young professor, he was part of a Marx study group. Though the group analyzed the social and political theories of Karl Marx, Cardoso maintains that he "was never a Marxist in an ideological sense," wrote Cardoso biographer and sociology professor Ted Goertzel after an interview located online at Goertzel's homepage.

Leftist President Joao Goulart was overthrown in a military coup in 1964, and Brazil came under power of a military dictatorship. Cardoso fled to Chile to avoid the fate of other distinguished liberal academics throughout the country, who had been forced to retire or even were tortured and imprisoned. He remained in exile in Santiago from 1964 to 1967 as a professor at the Latin American Institute for Economic and Social Planning, and spent the next two years at the University of Paris at Nanterre. During his years in exile, Cardoso continued his research into the relationship between developing countries and the West. He also earned a distinguished reputation in the field of sociology after publication of the book Dependency and Development, which he co-authored, and which "revolutionized thinking in the field," according to Goertzel.

At a Glance . . .

Born Fernando Henrique Cardoso on June 18, 1931 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. married to Ruth Correa Leite Cardoso (an anthropologist); three children. Education: University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, doctorate, sociology, 1961. Politics: Brazilian Social Democratic Party.

Career: Sociologist, politician. Professor of developmental sociology, Latin American Institute for Economic and Social Planning, Santiago, Chile, 1964-67; co-wrote book, Dependency and Development in Latin America; professor of sociological theory, University of Paris-Nanterre, 1967; professor of political science, University of Sao Paulo, 1968; professor at Stanford University, Cambridge University, University of Paris, c. 1969-78; ran for Senate on Brazilian Democratic Movement ticket, 1978; associate director of studies, Institute for Higher Studies in Social Sciences, Paris, and University of California; Brazilian Senator, 1983-93; foreign minister, 1993; finance minister, 1993-94; president of Brazil, 1995-.

Awards: Grand Cross of the Order of Rio Branco; Grand Cross of the Order of Merit of Portugal; named a chevalier in the French Legion of Honor.

Addresses: Office—Gabinete do Presidente, Palacio do Planalto, Praca dos Tres Poderes, 70150 Brasilia, D.F., Brazil.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Katie Burke (1953–) Biography - Personal to Galeazzo Ciano (1903–1944) Biography