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António Guterres


In office
October 28, 1995 – April 6, 2002
Preceded by Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Succeeded by José Manuel Barroso

President of the Socialist International
In office
1999 – 2005
Preceded by Pierre Mauroy
Succeeded by George Andreas Papandreou

Born 30 April 1949 (1949-04-30) (age 60)
Lisbon
Political party Socialist Party
Spouse(s) Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo (deceased), Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto
Children Pedro Guimarães e Melo Guterres, Mariana Guimarães e Melo Guterres
Religion Roman Catholicism

António Manuel de Oliveira Guterres, GCC (Portuguese pronunciation: [ɐ̃ˈtɔniu ɡuˈtɛʁɨʃ]; born 30 April 1949) is a Portuguese politician, a former prime minister and President of the Socialist International. Currently he is the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Contents

Early life

António Guterres was born and raised in Portugal's capital, Lisbon, son of Virgílio Dias Guterres (b. São José, Lisbon, 21 October 1913) and wife Ilda Cândida de Oliveira (b. Fundão, Donas, 12 February 1923). As a young child he already showed the abilities which would later garner him the award for Best High School Student for the year of 1965. He continued his studies at IST, where he pursued degrees in physics and electrical engineering. During his college years Guterres was never involved in the student opposition to the fascist regime of António de Oliveira Salazar. Instead, he dedicated himself to his studies and to meetings of the JUC (Catholic University Students Movement). In 1971 he graduated and started an academic career as Assistant Professor.

Career

His political career started in 1972, when he joined the Socialist Party. On New Year's Eve that year, at Carnide, Lisbon, he married his first wife, Luísa Amélia Guimarães e Melo (b. Porto, 1 September 1946), by whom he had two children, Pedro (b. 1977) and Mariana (b. 1985) Guimarães e Melo de Oliveira Guterres. Shortly thereafter, he quit academic life and became a full-time politician. In the period following the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974, which put an end to the fascist regime, Guterres was closely involved in the organization of the Socialist Party, especially the Lisbon section. Guterres became one of the party leaders and held the following offices:

  • Head of Office of the Secretary of State of Industry (1974 and 1975)
  • Deputy for Lisbon, and later Castelo Branco in the Portuguese National Parliament (1976-1995)
    • During this term he was responsible for several parliamentary commissions
  • Leader of the parliamentary bench of the Socialist Party, succeeding Jorge Sampaio (1988)

In 1992, he became president of the Socialist Party and leader of the opposition against Aníbal Cavaco Silva's government. He was also nominated vice-president of the Socialist International in September of the same year.

Following the retirement of Cavaco Silva in 1995, the Socialist Party won the general election and Guterres became Prime Minister of Portugal. With a style markedly different from that of his predecessor, based on dialogue and discussion with all sections of society, Guterres was a popular prime minister in the first years of his government. Portugal was enjoying a solid economic expansion which allowed the Socialists to increase welfare spending. Also important was the successful staging of Expo´98, which increased Portugal's visibility in the world.

His wife died of cancer at the Royal Free Hospital in the Greater London, London, on 28 January 1998.

Guterres was re-elected in 1999, and from January to July 2000, he occupied the Presidency of the European Council. This second term in government was not as successful however. Internal party conflicts along with an economic recession and the Hintze Ribeiro disaster damaged his authority and popularity.

Meanwhile in Alcântara, Lisbon, at the Chapel of Santo Amaro, on 9 April 2001, he married his second wife Catarina de Almeida Vaz Pinto, born on 15 June 1960, by whom he had no children. He has a stepson, natural son of his second wife by José Carlos da Costa Ramos, named Francisco Vaz Pinto da Costa Ramos, born on 20 May 1998.

In 2002, following a disastrous result for the Socialist Party in the local elections, Guterres resigned and dissolved the government, stating that "I am resigning to prevent the country from falling into a political swamp". Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, until then Minister for Social Security, assumed the Socialist Party leadership, but the general election was lost to the Social Democratic Party of José Manuel Durão Barroso, the current President of the European Commission. Guterres retired from the Portuguese political and worked as President of the Socialist International until 2005.

Work as High Commissioner for Refugees

In May 2005 he was appointed High Commissioner for Refugees by then Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan. In a 16 February 2007 NPR interview devoted mainly to the plight of Iraqi refugees, he said that this was the greatest refugee crisis in the Middle East since 1948. Among poorly publicized refugee crises, he cited those in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.[1]

He is a member of the Club of Madrid.[2]

Political offices
Preceded by
Aníbal Cavaco Silva
Prime Minister of Portugal
1995-2002
Succeeded by
Durão Barroso
Party political offices
Preceded by
Pierre Mauroy
President of the Socialist International
1999-2005
Succeeded by
George A. Papandreou

References

  1. ^ Interview with António Guterres, the United Nations high commissioner for refugees, 16 February 2007, Weekend Edition-Saturday, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=7466089
  2. ^ (English) [http://www.clubmadrid.org The Club of Madrid is an independent organization dedicated to strengthening democracy around the world by drawing on the unique experience and resources of its Members – 66 democratic former heads of state and government. ]
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