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Franco, Itamar Augusto Cautiero (1931–)

Franco, Itamar Augusto Cautiero (1931–)

Itamar Augusto Cautiero Franco (b. 28 June 1931), president of Brazil (1992–1995). Franco was born on board the ship Itamar, along the coast of Bahia. His mother, Italia Cautiero, who had just lost her husband, a public-health doctor in the interior of that state, was returning with her children Augusto and Matilde to raise them in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais. Although his birth certificate gives Salvador, Bahia, as the birthplace, Franco has always considered himself a Mineiro, and many of his initial curricula vitae, once he was elevated to the presidency, erroneously gave Juiz de Fora as his birthplace. His cultural background and his accent are Mineiro, and he was influenced by such nationally known Mineiro politicians as Joś Maria Alkimin, Bias Fortes, Carlos Luz, and former presidents Juscelino Kubitschek and Tancredo Neves.

Franco attended Colégio Granbery, a school established by American Methodist missionaries at the turn of the twentieth century. During a later visit to the school, then Vice President Franco declared that it was to his mother, to Granbery, and to the local engineering school that he owed his moral, intellectual, and professional training. As an engineering student from 1950 to 1955, he was twice elected president of the academic center and demonstrated great debating skills while advocating student concerns.

Two years after graduating, Franco ran for city councilman on the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) slate and was defeated. Four years later he also lost an election for deputy mayor. He finally succeeded in becoming mayor as a candidate on the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB, later PMDB) slate. His administration was marked by public works and major improvements that changed the face of the city. While mayor, he married journalist Ana Elisa Surerus. The marriage lasted nine years and the couple had two daughters.

In 1975 he ran successfully for a seat in the federal Senate, where he served until he ran for vice president in 1990. When President Fernando Collor De Mello resigned from office because of malfeasance, Franco served as interim chief executive and then as president from 29 December 1992 on.

His cabinet reflected his nationalistic tendencies and his penchant to trust old and intimate friends. He postponed a number of initiatives that had been undertaken by his predecessor, notably in the area of privatization. When he took office, Brazil was in an extreme economic crisis. Franco helped improve the economy but was unsuccessful in his reelection campaign in 1994, losing to Fernando Henrique Cardoso. He was later elected governor of Minas Gerais (1999–2003). He then worked as the Brazilian ambassador in Italy and again tried to become a presidential candidate in 2006, but was not selected by the PMDB Party. His works include O negro no Brasil atual (The Blacks in Today's Brazil, 1980), an attempt at a sociological interpretation, and Trabalho parlamentar (Parliamentary Work, 1984), detailing his years in the senate.

See alsoBrazil: Since 1889; Brazil, Political Parties: Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Ferreira, Jose de Castro. Itamar: O homen que redescobriu o Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: RJ Editora Record, 1995.

Flynn, Peter. "Collor, Corruption, and Crisis: Time for Reflection." Journal of Latin American Studies 25 (May 1993): 351-371.

Mendes, Antonio Manuel Teixeira. "Eleição presidencial: O Plano Real na sucessão de Itamar Franco" Opinao Pública (1994): 39-48.

                                 IÊda Siqueira Wiarda

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