Jorge Sampaio, a former president of Portugal, has died at the age of 81, a source in his family told Lusa on Friday.
The former head of state had since 27 August been at Lisbon’s Santa Cruz Hospital, having been admitted with respiratory difficulties.
Sampaio had been in the Algarve, but after experiencing breathing difficulties, and “given his history of being a heart patient”, was transferred to Lisbon, a source from his office said at the time.
Sampaio served two terms as Portugal’s head of state, between 1996 and 2006.
In 1989 he had been elected leader of the Socialist Party (PS) and the following year became mayor of Lisbon, a position to which he was re-elected in 1993.
After serving as president of Portugal, in 2006 he was appointed by the secretary-general of the United Nations, António Guterres – a former prime minister of Portugal and former leader of the PS – as his Special Envoy for the Fight against Tuberculosis. Between 2007 and 2013 he was also UN High Representative for the Alliance of Civilizations.
Up until his death, he had chaired the Global Platform for Syrian Students, which he himself founded in 2013 with the aim of responding to the academic emergency that the conflict in Syria had created, leaving thousands of students without access to education.
Throughout his life, Jorge Fernando Branco de Sampaio has held the highest political positions in the country.
He began his career as a student at the University of Lisbon as one of the protagonists of the academic crisis of the early 1960s, which led to a lengthy and widespread student protest movement against the Estado Novo dictatorship, until the military coup of 25 April 1974 that ushered in democracy.
A left-winger by conviction and a lawyer by training, Sampaio worked on famous cases during the Estado Novo, for example in the defense of those in the ‘Rato Chapel’ case, in which dozens of people who had protested against the colonial war were detained.
After the 1974 Revolution, he was active in far-left groups, such as the MES, where he met Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, who was also later to become PS leader and who is currently speaker of parliament. Sampaio himself only joined the PS, which had in the meantime been founded by Mário Soares, in 1978.
He served as secretary-general of the PS from 1989 to 1992), mayor of Lisbon from 1990 to 1995, and president of the Republic from 1996 to 2006.
SF/ARO // ARO.