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Fernando Collor de Mello

Fernando Collor de Mello

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Fernando Affonso Collor de Mello (feɾˈnɐ̃du aˈfõsu ˈkɔlɔɾ dʒi ˈmɛlu; born August 2, 1949) was the 32nd president of Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 from 1990 to 1992, when he resigned in a failed attempt to stop his trial of impeachment
Impeachment
Impeachment is a formal process in which an official is accused of unlawful activity, the outcome of which, depending on the country, may include the removal of that official from office as well as other punishment....

 by the Brazilian Senate. Collor was the first president directly elected by the people after the end of the Brazilian military government.

After his resignation from the presidency, the impeachment trial, on charges of corruption, continued, and Collor was found guilty by the Senate and sentenced to disqualification from holding elected office for eight years (1992–2000).

Collor was later acquitted of ordinary criminal charges in his judicial trial before Brazil's Supreme Federal Tribunal
Supreme Federal Tribunal
The Supreme Federal Court is the supreme court of Brazil, serving primarily as the Constitutional Court of the country. It is the highest court of law in Brazil for constitutional issues and its rulings cannot be appealed...

, for lack of valid evidence. After the end of his period of disqualification, Collor was elected a Senator of the Republic in the 2006 general elections and began his term in February 2007.

Fernando Collor was born in a political family. He is the son of the former Senator Arnon Affonso de Farias Mello and Leda Collor de Mello (daughter of former Labour Minister Lindolfo Collor
Lindolfo Collor
-See also:*List of municipalities in Rio Grande do Sul...

), led by his father, former governor of Alagoas
Alagoas
Alagoas is one of the 27 federative units of Brazil and is situated in the eastern part of the Northeast Region. It borders: Pernambuco ; Sergipe ; Bahia ; and the Atlantic Ocean . It occupies an area of 27,767 km², being slightly larger than Haiti...

 and proprietor of the Arnon de Mello Organization, the branch of Rede Globo
Rede Globo
Rede Globo , or simply Globo, is a Brazilian television network, launched by media mogul Roberto Marinho on April 26, 1965. It is owned by media conglomerate Organizações Globo, being by far the largest of its holdings...

 in the state.

Early career


Collor became the president of Brazilian football club Centro Sportivo Alagoano
Centro Sportivo Alagoano
Centro Sportivo Alagoano, is a Brazilian football team from Maceió in Alagoas, founded on September 7, 1913. It is the biggest club in the state of Alagoas, and the largest fan base....

 (CSA) in 1976. After entering politics, he was successively elected mayor of Alagoas' capital Maceió
Maceió
Maceió is the capital and the largest city of the coastal state Alagoas, Brazil. The name "maceió" is of Indian origin, and designates the natural spontaneously courses of water which flow out of the soil...

 in 1979 (National Renewal Alliance Party
National Renewal Alliance Party
The National Renewal Alliance Party or Aliança Renovadora Nacional was a conservative political party that existed in Brazil between 1966 and 1985...

), a federal deputy (Democratic Social Party
Democratic Social Party
The Democratic Social Party was a conservative Brazilian political party.It was established in 1979 as a continuation of the National Renewal Alliance Party , the party which supported the 1965-79 Brazilian dictatorship, at a time in which the country turned to be a democracy...

) in 1982, and eventually governor of the small Northeastern state of Alagoas
Alagoas
Alagoas is one of the 27 federative units of Brazil and is situated in the eastern part of the Northeast Region. It borders: Pernambuco ; Sergipe ; Bahia ; and the Atlantic Ocean . It occupies an area of 27,767 km², being slightly larger than Haiti...

 (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party) in 1986.

During his term as governor, he attracted a lot of publicity by allegedly fighting the payment of super-salaries to public servants, whom he labeled marajás (maharaja
Maharaja
Mahārāja is a Sanskrit title for a "great king" or "high king". The female equivalent title Maharani denotes either the wife of a Maharaja or, in states where that was customary, a woman ruling in her own right. The widow of a Maharaja is known as a Rajamata...

s
) (likening them to the former princes of India who received a stipend from the government as compensation for relinquishing their lands). The efficacy of his policies in reducing public expense is disputed, but it certainly made him popular over the country. This helped boost his political career, with the help of television appearances in nationwide broadcasts (quite unusual for a governor from such a small state).

Presidency


In 1989 Collor defeated Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , known popularly as Lula, served as the 35th President of Brazil from 2003 to 2010.A founding member of the Workers' Party , he ran for President three times unsuccessfully, first in the 1989 election. Lula achieved victory in the 2002 election, and was inaugurated as...

 in a controversial two-round presidential race and 35 million votes.
In December 1989, days prior the presidential elections second round, Abílio dos Santos Diniz was the victim of a sensational political kidnapping. The act is recognized as an act of sabotage of the elections having been executed on elections day and associating the act to the political left wing. As there was a prohibition of any political party of taking the media , television, radio or newspapers, on the days prior to election day, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva , known popularly as Lula, served as the 35th President of Brazil from 2003 to 2010.A founding member of the Workers' Party , he ran for President three times unsuccessfully, first in the 1989 election. Lula achieved victory in the 2002 election, and was inaugurated as...

's party had no opportunity to clarify the accusations that the party (PT) was involved in the kidnapping.
Collor won in the state of São Paulo against many prominent political figures. The first democratically elected President of Brazil
President of Brazil
The president of Brazil is both the head of state and head of government of the Federative Republic of Brazil. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the Brazilian Armed Forces...

 in 29 years, Collor spent the early years of his government allegedly battling inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

, which at times reached rates of 25% per month.

The very day he took office, Collor launched the Plano Collor
Plano Collor
The Collor Plan , is the name given to a collection of economic reforms and inflation-stabilization plans carried out during the presidency of Fernando Collor de Mello of Brazil, between 1990 and 1992...

(Collor Plan), implemented by his finance minister Zélia Cardoso de Mello
Zélia Cardoso de Mello
Zélia Maria Cardoso de Mello served as Brazil's Minister of Economy from 1990 to 1991 under Fernando Collor de Mello . She was married to Brazilian comedian Chico Anysio, with whom she has two children, Rodrigo and Victoria...

 (not related to Collor). The Plan attempted to reduce the money supply by forcibly converting large portions of consumer bank accounts into non-cashable government bonds, while at the same time increasing the printing of money bills, a contradictory measure to combat hyper-inflation.

Free trade, privatization and state reforms


Under Zélia's tenure, Brazil had a period of major changes, featuring what ISTOÉ
Istoe
Revista ISTOÉ is a weekly news magazine in Portuguese published in Brazil, roughly the equivalent of the American magazines Time or Newsweek. It is considered one of the four main magazines being published in the country, along with Veja, Época and CartaCapital....

 magazine called an "unprecedented" "revolution" in many levels of public administration: "privatization, opening its market to free trade, encouraging industrial modernization, temporary control of the hyper-inflation and public debt reduction."

In the month before Collor took power, hyperinflation was 84 percent per month and growing. All accounts over 50,000 Cruzeiros (about US$1,300 at that time), were frozen for 18 months. He also proposed freezes in wages and prices, as well as major cuts in government spending. The measures were received unenthusiastically by the people, though many felt that radical measures were necessary to kill the hyperinflation. Within a few months, however, inflation resumed, eventually reaching rates of 25 percent per month.

During the course of his government, Collor was accused of condoning an influence peddling scheme. The accusations weighed on the government and they lead Collor and his team to an institutional crisis leading to a loss of credibility that reached the finance minister, Zélia.

This political crisis had negative consequences on his ability to carry out his policies and reforms. The Plano Collor
Plano Collor
The Collor Plan , is the name given to a collection of economic reforms and inflation-stabilization plans carried out during the presidency of Fernando Collor de Mello of Brazil, between 1990 and 1992...

 I
, under Zélia would be renewed with the implementation of the Plano Collor II; the government's loss of prestige would make that follow-up plan short-lived and largely ineffective. The failure of Zélia and Plano Collor I led to their substitution by Marcílio Marques Moreira and his Plano Collor II. Moreira's plan tried to correct some aspects of the first plan, but it was too late. Collor's administration was paralyzed by the fast deterioration of his image, through a succession of corruption accusations.

During the Plano Collor, yearly inflation was at first reduced from 30,000 percent in 1990 (Collor's first year in government) to 400 percent in 1991, then climbing to 1,020 percent in 1992 (when he left office). Inflation continued to rise to 2,294 percent in 1994 (two years after he left office).

Although Zélia acknowledged later that the Plano Collor didn't end inflation, she also stated: "It is also possible to see with clarity that, under very difficult conditions, we promoted the balancing of the national debt – and that, together with the commercial opening, it created the basis for the implementation of the Plano Real
Plano Real
The Plano Real was a set of measures taken to stabilize the Brazilian economy in early 1994, under the direction of Fernando Henrique Cardoso as the Minister of Finance, during the presidency of Itamar Franco....

."

Part of Collor's more conservative program was followed by his successors: Itamar Franco, Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Fernando Henrique Cardoso – also known by his initials FHC – was the 34th President of the Federative Republic of Brazil for two terms from January 1, 1995 to December 31, 2002. He is an accomplished sociologist, professor and politician...

 and Lula da Silva. Collor's administration privatized 15 different companies (including Acesita
Acesita
Aperam, before known as ArcelorMittal Inox Brasil or, formerly known as Acesita, is a biggest Brazilian manufacturer of specialty steels. Headquartered in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, the company is a supplier of stainless, silicon and special carbon steels...

, and began the process of privatization for others, such as Embraer
Embraer
Embraer S.A. is a Brazilian aerospace conglomerate that produces commercial, military, and executive aircraft and provides aeronautical services....

, Telebrás
Telebrás
Telebrás was the Brazilian state-owned monopoly telephone system. It was broken up in July 1998 into twelve separate companies, nicknamed the 'Baby Bras' companies, that were auctioned to private bidders...

 and Companhia Vale do Rio Doce
Companhia Vale do Rio Doce
Vale S.A. Vale S.A. Vale S.A. (BM&F Bovespa: / , / , / , / , is an Brazilian diversified mining multinational corporation and one of the largest logistics operators in Brazil. In addition to being the second-largest mining company in the world, Vale is also the largest producer of iron ore,...

. Some members of Collor's government were also part of the later Cardoso administration in different or similar functions: Pedro Malan
Pedro Malan
Pedro Sampaio Malan , is a Brazilian economist and former Minister of Finance for Brazil.-Early life:Pedro Sampaio Malan was born in 1943 in Petropolis, a town in honor of Dom Pedro II to the north of Rio de Janeiro...

, Renan Calheiros
Renan Calheiros
Renan Calheiros is a Brazilian politician and former President of the Senate of Brazil. He represents the state of Alagoas in the senate for the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party....

 (PMDB-AL); Antônio Kandir (PSDB-SP); Pratini de Moraes and Celso Lafer
Celso Lafer
Celso Lafer, born August 7, 1941 is a Brazilian jurist, full professor of Philosophy of Law at University of São Paulo, twice former foreign minister and a former commerce minister.-Education:...

; Reinhold Stephanes, Armínio Fraga
Arminio Fraga
Arminio Fraga is a Brazilian economist who was president of the Central Bank of Brazil from 1999 to 2002. He is also a former associate of George Soros and his Quantum Fund...

; Pedro Parente.

Bresser Pereira, a minister in the previous Sarney
José Sarney
José Sarney de Araújo Costa is a Brazilian lawyer, writer and politician. He served as president of Brazil from 15 March 1985 to 15 March 1990....

 and the following Fernando Henrique Cardoso administrations, stated that "Collor changed the political agenda in the country, because implemented brave and very necessary reforms, and he pursued fiscal adjustment
Fiscal adjustment
A fiscal adjustment is a reduction in the government primary budget deficit, and it can result from a reduction in government expenditures, an increase in tax revenues, or both simultaneously....

s. Although other attempts had been made since 1987, it was during Collor's administration that old statist ideas were confronted and combatted (...) by a brave agenda of economic reforms geared towards free trade and privatization."
According to Philippe Faucher, professor of political science at McGill University
McGill University
Mohammed Fathy is a public research university located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The university bears the name of James McGill, a prominent Montreal merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, whose bequest formed the beginning of the university...

, the combination of the political crisis and the hyperinflation continued to decrease Collor's credibility and in that political vacuum an impeachment process took place, precipitated by Pedro Collor's (Fernando Collor's brother) accusations and other social and political sectors which thought would be harmed by his policies.

Awards


In 1991, UNICEF chose three health programs: Community Agents, Lay Midwives and Eradication of measles as the best in the world. These programs were promoted during Collor's administration. Until 1989, the Brazilian record vaccination
Vaccination
Vaccination is the administration of antigenic material to stimulate the immune system of an individual to develop adaptive immunity to a disease. Vaccines can prevent or ameliorate the effects of infection by many pathogens...

, was considered the worst in South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. During Collor's administration, Brazil won an UN prize, as the best in South America, for its vaccination program. Collor's project Minha Gente (My People) won the UN award Project Model for the Humanity in 1993.

Corruption charges and impeachment


In May 1991, Fernando Collor was accused by his brother, Pedro Collor
Pedro Collor
Pedro Afonso Collor de Melo was the brother of former Brazilian president Fernando Collor. Working for the Collor family's newspaper Gazeta de Alagoas, Pedro Collor gained prominence when made a series of accusations against his brother, who was then president. The allegations include corruption,...

, of condoning an influence peddling
Influence peddling
Influence peddling is the illegal practice of using one's influence in government or connections with persons in authority to obtain favors or preferential treatment for another, usually in return for payment. Also called traffic of influence or trading in influence ...

 scheme run by his campaign treasurer, Paulo César Farias
Paulo Cesar Farias
Paulo Cesar Farias was the political campaign treasurer of Brazilian President Fernando Collor de Mello and a central figure in the corruption scandal that resulted in Collor's 1992 removal from Brazil's presidential office....

. The Federal Police and Congress began an investigation soon after. Some months later, with the investigation progressing and under fire, Collor went on national television to ask for the people's support by going out on the street and protesting against "coup" forces. On August 11, 1992, students organized by the National Student Union (União Nacional dos Estudantes – UNE), thousands of students protested on the streets against Collor. Their faces, often painted in a mixture of the colors of the flag and protest-black, lead to them being called "Caras-pintadas" ("Painted Faces").

On August 26, 1992, the final congressional inquiry report was released; the report concluded that there was proof that Fernando Collor had personal expenses paid for by money raised by Paulo César Farias through his influence peddling scheme. As a result of this report, a petition was presented by the President of the Brazilian Bar Association and the President of the Brazilian Press Association, formally accusing President Collor of having committed crimes of responsibility (the Brazilian equivalent of "high crimes and misdemeanors") warranting removal from office per the constitutional and legal norms regulating impeachment proceedings. On that formal petition, impeachment proceedings were initiated in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Congress. On September 29, 1992, Collor was impeached by a vote of 441 for and 38 votes against. On October 2, 1992, President Collor received formal notice from the Brazilian Senate that the Chamber of Deputies had accepted the charges presented against him and that he was now a defendant in a trial of impeachment that the Senate would conduct. Per the Constitution of Brazil
Constitution of Brazil
During its independent political history, Brazil has had seven constitutions. The most recent was ratified on October 5, 1988.-Imperial Constitution :Background...

, upon recepit of that notification, Collor's powers were suspended for 180 days, and Vice President Itamar Franco
Itamar Franco
Itamar Augusto Cautiero Franco was a Brazilian politician and the President of Brazil from December 29, 1992, to January 1, 1995. During his long political career, Franco was also a Senator, Mayor, Ambassador, Governor and Vice President...

 became acting president.

Facing almost certain conviction and removal from office by the Senate, Collor resigned on December 29, 1992 just as the trial was underway, in the last day of the proceedings. Collor's resignation letter was read by his attorney in the floor of the Senate, and the impeachment trial was adjourned so that the Congress could meet in joint session, first to take formal notice of the resignation and proclaim the office of President vacant, and then to swear-in the Vice-President as President, as required by the Brazilian Constitution.

However, later on the same day, after Collor's resignation took effect and the new President was sworn in, the Senate resumed its sitting as a Court of impeachment, and the attorneys representing the former President argued that, since the defendant was no longer President, the impeachment trial could not proceed. The attorneys representing the accusation argued that the trial should continue, with a view to determining whether or not the defendant should face the constitutional penalty of suspension of political rights for eight years.

The Senate voted to continue the trial. It ruled that, although the possible penalty of removal from office had been rendered moot, the determination of the former President's guilt or innocence was still relevant because a conviction on changes of impeachment would carry with it a disqualification from holding public office for eight years; the Senate found that, since the trial had already started, the defendant could not use his right to resign the presidency as a means to avoid a ruling on the merits of the case. Later, in the early hours of December 30, 1992, by the required two-thirds majority, the Senate found the former President guilty of the charges of impeachment. The penalty of removal from office was not imposed as Collor had already resigned, but as a result of his conviction the Senate declared him disqualified to hold public office for eight years. Collor challenged before the Brazilian Supreme Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal) the Senate's decision to continue the trial after his resignation, but the Supreme Court ruled the Senate's action valid.

In 1994, the Supreme Court of Brazil tried the ordinary criminal charges stemming from the Farias corruption affair; the ordinary criminal accusation was presented by the Brazilian federal prosecution service (Ministério Público Federal). The Supreme Court had original jurisdiction under the Brazilian Constitution because Collor was one of the defendants and the charges mentioned crimes committed by a President while in office. If found guilty of the charges, the former President would face a jail sentence. However, Collor was found not guilty. The Supreme Federal Tribunal threw out the charges of corruption against him on a technicality, citing a lack of evidence linking Collor to Farias' influence peddling scheme. A key piece of evidence, Paulo César Farias' personal computer, was found to have been obtained illegally (it was obtained during an illegal police search conducted without a prior search and seizure warrant) and thus void as evidence. Other pieces of evidence that were only gathered as a consequence of the information first extracted from files stored in Farias' computer were also voided, as the Collor legal defense team successfully invoked the fruit of the poisonous tree
Fruit of the poisonous tree
Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal metaphor in the United States used to describe evidence that is obtained illegally. The logic of the terminology is that if the source of the evidence is tainted, then anything gained from it is as well.Such evidence is not generally admissible in court...

doctrine before the Brazilian Supreme Court, so that the evidence that was only gathered as a consequence of the initial tainted information was also struck from the record. Collor was thus acquitted for lack of valid evidence against him. After his acquittal in the criminal trial, Collor again attempted to void the suspension of his political rights imposed by the Senate, without success, as the Supreme Court ruled that the judicial trial of the ordinary criminal charges and the political trial of the charges of impeachment were independent spheres. Collor thus only regained his political rights after the expiration of the eight year disqualification imposed by the Brazilian Senate.

Collor's version of the impeachment


In discussing the events surrounding the corruption charges, Collor's official website states: "After two and half years of the most intense investigation in Brazilian history, the Supreme Court of Brazil declared him innocent of all charges. Today he is the only politician in Brazil to have an officially clear record validated by an investigation by all interests and sectors of the opposition government. Furthermore, President Fernando Collor signed the initial document authorizing the investigation."

Post-presidency


In 2000, Collor tried to run for mayor of São Paulo. His candidacy was declared invalid by the electoral authorities, as his political rights were still suspended by the filing deadline.

In 2002, with political rights restored, he ran for Governor of Alagoas
Alagoas
Alagoas is one of the 27 federative units of Brazil and is situated in the eastern part of the Northeast Region. It borders: Pernambuco ; Sergipe ; Bahia ; and the Atlantic Ocean . It occupies an area of 27,767 km², being slightly larger than Haiti...

, but lost to incumbent Governor Ronaldo Lessa, who was seeking reelection.

In 2006, Collor was elected to the Brazilian Senate representing his state of Alagoas
Alagoas
Alagoas is one of the 27 federative units of Brazil and is situated in the eastern part of the Northeast Region. It borders: Pernambuco ; Sergipe ; Bahia ; and the Atlantic Ocean . It occupies an area of 27,767 km², being slightly larger than Haiti...

, with 44.03% of the vote, running again against Lessa. Collor is, since March 2009, a Chairman of the Senate Infrastructure Commission.

Collor was running again for Governor of Alagoas in 2010. However, he lost the race, finishing narrow third after Lessa and an incumbent Teotonio Vilela Filho
Teotonio Vilela Filho
Teotônio Brandão Vilela Filho is a Brazilian economist, politician and current Governor of Alagoas. He graduated at the Universidade de Brasília and then specialized in Business Administration at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas....

, thus getting eliminated from a runoff. This was Collor's second electoral loss.

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