Cardoso, Fernando Henrique

Cardoso, Fernando Henrique fərnäNˈdo͞o ānrēˈkə kärdōˈso͞o [key], 1931–, Brazilian sociologist and politician, president of Brazil (1995–2002), b. Rio de Janeiro. Originally a sociology professor and opponent of Brazil's military dictators, he lived in exile from 1964 to 1968. Upon his return home he was arrested (1969), banned from teaching, and had his political and civil rights suspended. Cardoso was elected to the Brazilian senate from the state of Sao Paulo in 1986 and two years later helped to found the centrist Social Democratic party. He later served (1992–93) as foreign minister. An inflation-fighting supporter of free-market reforms, he became economy minister in 1993 and was credited with turning the troubled Brazilian economy around.

Cardoso was elected president in 1994 and soon moved to reduce government involvement in the economy and attract foreign investment to Brazil. He was reelected in 1998, but his second term saw increased popular dissatisfaction with economic austerities and inequities, struggles in his four-party coalition, and legislative intransigence that hindered his effectiveness. Nonetheless his years in office saw the solidification of Brazilian democracy, a reduction of patronage in the government bureaucracy, improvements in education and rural health care, and the resettlement of nearly 600,000 landless peasant families.

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