Itamar Franco

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His Excellency
Itamar Franco
File:33 - Itamar Augusto Cautiero Franco (Vice Empossado) 1992.jpg
33rd President of Brazil
In office
29 December 1992 – 1 January 1995[1][2]
Vice President None
Preceded by Fernando Collor de Mello
Succeeded by Fernando Henrique Cardoso
21st Vice President of Brazil
In office
15 March 1990 – 29 December 1992
Acting President: October 2 – December 29, 1992
President Fernando Collor de Mello
Preceded by José Sarney
Succeeded by Marco Maciel
representing Minas Gerais
In office
1 February 2011 – 2 July 2011
Preceded by Hélio Costa
Succeeded by Zezé Perrella
In office
1 February 1975 – 15 March 1990
Preceded by Milton Campos
Succeeded by Simão da Cunha
Brazilian Ambassador to Italy
In office
Nominated by Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
36th Governor of Minas Gerais
In office
1 January 1999 – 31 December 2002
Vice Governor Newton Cardoso
Preceded by Eduardo Azeredo
Succeeded by Aécio Neves
Brazilian Ambassador to the Organization of American States
In office
Nominated by Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Brazilian Ambassador to Portugal
In office
Nominated by Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by José Aparecido de Oliveira
Succeeded by Jorge Konder Bornhausen
Mayor of Juiz de Fora
In office
31 January 1973 – 15 May 1974
Preceded by Agostinho Pestana
Succeeded by Saulo Pinto Moreira
In office
1 January 1967 – 1 January 1971
Preceded by Ademar de Andrade
Succeeded by Agostinho Pestana
Personal details
Born Itamar Augusto Cautiero Franco
(1930-06-28)28 June 1930
Brazilian territorial waters, Atlantic Ocean[3]
Died 2 July 2011(2011-07-02) (aged 81)
São Paulo, Brazil
Political party Brazilian Labour Party
Brazilian Democratic Movement
National Reconstruction Party
Brazilian Democratic Movement Party
Socialist People's Party
Spouse(s) Ana Elisa Surerus
(m. 1968–1971; divorced)
Children 2 daughters
Alma mater School of Engineering of Juiz de Fora
Profession Civil Engineer
Religion Roman Catholic

Itamar Augusto Cautiero Franco (Portuguese pronunciation: [itɐˈmaɾ ˈfɾɐ̃ku]; 28 June 1930 – 2 July 2011) was a Brazilian politician who served as acting President of Brazil from 2 October 1992 and as President from 29 December 1992 to 1 January 1995.[2] He was Vice President of Brazil from 1990 until the resignation of President Fernando Collor de Mello. During his long political career Franco also served as Senator, Mayor, Ambassador and Governor. At the time of his death he was a Senator for Minas Gerais, having won the seat in the 2010 election.

Early life and family background

Franco was born prematurely at sea,[4] aboard a ship traveling between Salvador and Rio de Janeiro. On his father's side he was of partial German descent (the Stiebler family from Minas Gerais), while on the mother's side he was of Italian descent, with both of his maternal grandparents having emigrated to Brazil from Italy. His mother's name was "Itália", which means "Italy" in Portuguese.[5] Franco's father died prior to his birth.

His family was from Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, where he grew up and became a civil engineer in 1955, graduating from the School of Engineering of Juiz de Fora.

Career before Vice Presidency

Entering politics in the mid-1950s, Franco first served as alderman and deputy mayor of Juiz de Fora, before getting elected as mayor (1967 to 1971 and again from 1973 to 1974). He resigned as mayor in 1974 and ran successfully for the Federal Senate as a representative of Minas Gerais.[6] He soon became a senior figure in the MDB (Movimento Democrático Brasileiro – Brazilian Democratic Movement he was deputy leader twice, in 1976 and 1977), the official opposition to the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985. Re-elected as a senator in 1982, he was defeated in an attempt to be elected governor of Minas Gerais in 1986 as a candidate of the Liberal Party (PL). During his tenure he was one of the key figures of (then failed) initiative to immediate restoration of the direct elections for President. During his Senate term, Franco served as PL leader in that chamber.

As a member of the National Constituent Assembly which began on February 1, 1987, Franco voted for severance of relations between Brazil and countries that develop a policy of racial discrimination (as was then the case of South Africa), the establishment of the writ of mandamus Collective; 50% more pay for overtime after a forty-hour work-week, the legalization of abortion, the continuous shift of six hours of notice proportional to length of service, the union unity, popular sovereignty, the nationalization of subsoil, the nationalization of the financial system of a limiting the payment of external debt burden and creating a fund to support land reform.

Meanwhile, he voted against propositions to reintroduce the death penalty, confirming the presidential system and extension of President José Sarney's term, whom he opposed and called for removal for an alleged corruption. Ironically, when Franco became President, Sarney became one of his allies.

Vice Presidency

In 1989, Franco left PL and joined the small PRN (National Reconstruction Party) to be selected the running-mate of the presidential candidate Fernando Collor de Mello. A main reason behind Franco's selection was that he represented one of the largest states (in contrast to Collor, who was from small state of Alagoas), and publicly he gained during his call for impeachment against President José Sarney for an alleged corruption.[7]

Collor and Franco won a very narrow election against a man who would later become President (2003–2010), Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Once in office, Franco broke with Collor, threatening a resignation several times, as he disagreed with some of the President's policies, especially regarding privatization, voicing his opposition openly.[8]

On Tuesday September 29, 1992, Collor was charged with corruption and was impeached by the Congress. Under the Brazilian Constitution, an impeached president's powers are suspended for 180 days. As such, Franco served as acting president from October 2, 1992 until Collor resigned on December 29, at which point he formally took office as president.

When he became acting President, despite having been Vice President for nearly three years, polls showed that the majority of the population did not know who he was.[4]


Domestic policy and presidential style

Franco took power as Brazil was in the midst of a severe economic crisis, with inflation reaching 1,110% in 1992 and rocketing to almost 2,400% in 1993. Franco developed a reputation as a mercurial leader, but he selected as his Finance Minister Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who launched the "Plano Real" that stabilized the economy and ended inflation.

In an unusual gesture,[citation needed] moments before taking office, Franco handed senators a piece of paper on which he had listed his personal net worth and properties. Initially his approval rating reached 60 percent.[9]

After the troubled Collor Presidency, Franco quickly installed a politically-balanced cabinet and sought broad support in Congress.[8]

During his Presidency, in April 1993, Brazil held a long-announced referendum to determine the political system (remaining a Republic or restoration of the Monarchy) and the form of government (presidential or parliamentary system).[10] The Republican slash presidential system prevailed by large majorities respectively.[11] Ironically, Franco himself always preferred the parliamentary government.

In 1993 Franco resisted calls from various military and civilian offices to shut down the Congress, which was described by some sources as a "coup attempt".[12]

His administration is credited for restoring integrity and stability in government, particularly after the troubled Collor presidency. The President himself kept his reputation of honesty and his personal style was viewed as very different from Collor's, who practiced "an imperial and ceremonious presidential role". On the other hand, Franco's own personal behavior was sometimes described as temperamental and eccentric.[13][14][15]

In late 1993, Franco offered a resignation in order to call an earlier election, but Congress turned it down.[16]

At the end of term, Franco's job approval rating soared to nearly 80–90 percent.[17][18] Until May 2016, Franco remained the last President of Brazil not to have been elected as such.

Foreign policy

Itamar Franco in 2004

Despite being sometimes described as a "man with limited diplomatic skills", Franco is credited with launching of idea of a free trade zone covering the whole of South America, which was praised by such leaders as U.S. President Bill Clinton.[18]

Also during his Government, Brazil ratified important pacts (for example the Tlatelolco Treaty and a quadripartite agreement also involving Argentina and the International Atomic Energy Agency on full-scope safeguards), which set Brazil on the nonproliferation path.[18]

After the Presidency

Presidents Itamar Franco, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and José Sarney, at the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005.

Fernando Henrique Cardoso became the official (sometimes described as Franco's hand-picked) candidate to succeed Franco and was elected President in late 1994. Franco, however, soon became a severe critic of Cardoso's government and disagreed with the privatization program. Thereafter, he served as the Ambassador to Portugal in Lisbon and then as Ambassador to the Organization of American States in Washington, DC, until 1998.

Franco in May 2011.

Franco considered a presidential run in 1998, but ultimately backed off after constitution changes allowed Cardoso to run again. However, he was elected governor of Minas Gerais in 1998 against the Cardoso-supported incumbent in a landslide, and as soon as he took office, he enacted a moratorium on state debt payments, worsening the national economic crisis. Itamar Franco served in the governor's seat until 2003 (declining to seek reelection and supporting the eventual winning candidate Aécio Neves) and was then the ambassador to Italy, until leaving the position in 2005. During the 2002 presidential election, Franco endorsed Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who got elected,[19] even if he, again, declined to run himself.

Having unsuccessfully sought, at age 76, the PMDB presidential nomination in 2006, he backed Geraldo Alckmin against Lula, despite having been considered again, despite his advanced age, as a candidate for President in 2010.

Franco ran instead for to be a Senator from Minas, and won the race along with Neves.

Personal life

Franco was divorced in 1971 and had two daughters.[9][20] Before and during his presidency he had a reputation as a ladies' man and his personal life was a subject of huge public interest.[citation needed][20][21][22]

He authored some 19 published works, ranging from discussions on nuclear energy to short stories.[9]


Having been diagnosed with leukemia, Franco was admitted to the Albert Einstein Hospital, in São Paulo, on May 21, 2011. On June 27, his condition worsened and he developed severe pneumonia, being taken to ICU and placed under mechanical ventilation. He died in the morning of Saturday July 2, 2011, after suffering a stroke.[23][24][25] Seven days of mourning were declared by President Dilma Rousseff. After lying in state in the town of Juiz de Fora, his political base, and in Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, his body was cremated on Monday, July 4, 2011, in Contagem, in the metropolitan area of that city.[26]


  1. From 2 October 1992 until Collor's removal, Vice President Itamar Franco served as the Acting President
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Galery of presidents" (in portuguese). Palácio do Planalto. Retrieved 3 February 2016. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Franco was born on board a ship off the eastern coast of Brazil, sailing between Salvador and Rio de Janeiro.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Davison, Phil (April 10, 1993). "Brazil's leader all at sea as economy sinks: Itamar Franco's course is still uncertain". The Independent. London.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. KOIFMAN, Fábio. Presidentes Do Brasil: De Deodoro A Fhc.
  6. "Former Brazilian President Itamar Franco, known for dies of a stroke at age 81". Washington Post. July 3, 2011. Retrieved July 2, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  7. Brazil – Franco's Presidency
  8. 8.0 8.1 Brazil – Franco's Presidency, 1992 – 94
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Nash, Nathaniel C. (December 30, 1992). "Inheritor of Tarnished Presidency: Itamar Augusto Cantiero Franco". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Missing or empty |title= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>[dead link]
  11. Brazilians Vote Down Kings and Keep Presidents, JAMES BROOKE, Thursday, April 22, 1993
  12. BRAZILIAN OFFICIAL TELLS OF '93 PLOT, Friday, January 7, 1994
  13. Franco's Presidency, 1992 – 94
  14. Jane Ladle, Huw Hennessy, Brian Bell, Brazil, Langenscheidt Publishing Group, 1998, ISBN 0-88729-130-9, ISBN 978-0-88729-130-2
  15. Brazilian's Reputation Seen Reaching Bottom; President Again Fails to Skirt Controversy, The Washington Post, February 17, 1994, Jeb Blount
  16. Brazil Leader's Offer to Quit Is Turned Down by Congress, Thursday, October 21, 1993
  17. Brazil – Franco's Presidency, 1992–94
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 Brazil's Ex-President Accomplished Much, Wednesday, May 31, 1995
  19. Candidates brace for runoff in Brazil, LatinAmerican Post
  20. 20.0 20.1 A Squall At Carnival, JAMES BROOKE, Sunday, February 27, 1994
  21. Brazil's leader all at sea as economy sinks: Itamar Franco's course is still uncertain, writes Phil Davison in Rio de Janeiro, Saturday, April 10, 1993
  22. "Itamar Franco". The Daily Telegraph. London. July 5, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. Associated Press (July 3, 2011). "Itamar Franco, Former President of Brazil, Dies at 81". The New York Times.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Morre o senador e ex-presidente Itamar Franco aos 81 anos, Saturday, July 2, 2011
  25. Former Brazilian president dies, Saturday, July 2, 2011
  26. "Former Brazilian President Itamar Franco dies". BBC News. July 2, 2011. Retrieved July 3, 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Adhemar Rezende de Andrade
Mayor of Juiz de Fora
Succeeded by
Agostinho Pestana
Preceded by
Agostinho Pestana
Mayor of Juiz de Fora
Succeeded by
Saulo Moreira
Preceded by
José Sarney
Vice-President of Brazil
March 15, 1990 – December 29, 1992
Acting President
October 2 - December 29, 1992
Succeeded by
Marco Maciel
Preceded by
Fernando Collor de Mello
President of Brazil
December 29, 1992 – January 1, 1995
Succeeded by
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Preceded by
Eduardo Brandão de Azeredo
Governor of Minas Gerais
Succeeded by
Aécio Neves