Jorge Sampaio, former president of Portugal who also held positions at the UN, died this Friday (10) at the age of 81, his family announced to Lusa news agency.
He suffered from serious heart problems and had been hospitalized since the end of August in the capital Lisbon.
“Jorge Sampaio left us today with a double legacy, composed of freedom but also equality,” said the current president of Portugal, conservative Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa.
The prime minister, the socialist Antonio Costa, praised the “moral rectitude” of the politician, who “has always been an example”, and decreed national mourning for three days from Saturday (11).
Sampaio was secretary general of the Socialist Party, mayor of Lisbon and head of state of Portugal for two terms, between 1996 and 2006, in addition to being a UN special envoy against tuberculosis and a high representative of the Alliance of Civilizations.
Born in Lisbon in 1939, into a wealthy family, Sampaio entered politics while studying law and led the 1962 university strikes against the dictatorship of António Salazar (1932-1968). When he became a lawyer, he defended several political prisoners.
In 1978, four years after the Carnation Revolution, which ended the dictatorship, the politician joined the Socialist Party founded by Mário Soares. He was a deputy for many years and, in 1989, he became the party’s general secretary, also winning the election for mayor of Lisbon.
Sampaio won the 1996 presidential contest against Aníbal Cavaco Silva in the first round and ruled Portugal for ten years. He succeeded Mário Soares, who held the position between 1986 and 1996, and passed the belt to Cavaco Silva himself, who was Portuguese president between 2006 and 2016.
The then President of Brazil, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, speaks with former President of Portugal and UN High Representative to the Alliance of Civilizations, Jorge Sampaio, on May 28, 2010 — Photo: Evaristo Sá/AFP
After the presidency, at the age of 66, Sampaio became the UN special envoy against tuberculosis and was a high representative of the Alliance of Civilizations, with the aim of promoting initiatives to overcome misunderstandings between cultures and religions.
In the last years, Sampaio led an international support network for Syrian students.