Published: July 3, 2011
SÃO PAULO, Brazil (AP) — Itamar Franco, who as president of Brazil in the 1990s helped tame hyperinflation, died here Saturday. He was 81.
The cause was a stroke, Albert Einstein Hospital said in a statement. He had been hospitalized since May after receiving a diagnosis of leukemia and pneumonia.Mr. Franco was elected vice president of Brazil in 1989 and became president in 1992 after Fernando Collor de Mello, who was facing corruption charges, stepped down to avoid being impeached.
In early 1994 Mr. Franco introduced the so-called Real Plan, which curbed a monthly inflation rate of about 50 percent and introduced a new currency, as well as raising interest rates and controlling government spending. High interest rates also attracted more foreign capital, which helped increase the country’s hard-currency reserves.The Real Plan, considered Brazil’s most successful anti-inflationary program, was created by Mr. Franco’s finance minister, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who was himself elected president in 1994.
Itamar Franco was born June 28, 1930, on a boat traveling between the states of Bahia and Rio de Janeiro. He grew up in the city of Juiz de Fora, in the state of Minas Gerais, where he began his political career and was elected mayor twice, in 1966 and 1972.He was elected to the Senate in 1974 and again in 1982.
In 1999, a year after he was elected governor of Minas Gerais, he declared a 90-day moratorium on the state’s $11 billion debt with the federal government, claiming the state was broke. The news fanned fears that Brazil would default on debt payments, and investors pulled their money out of the country.Running as a candidate of the Popular Socialist Party, Mr. Franco was elected to the Brazilian Senate in 2010.
Mr. Franco never married. It was not known if any immediate family members survive.