News Americas, SAO PAULO, Brazil, Weds. Mar. 30, 2011: The former vice president of Brazil has passed away after a battle with cancer. He was 79.
José Alencar Gomes da Silva’s death was greeted as sad by current Brazilian President, Dilma Rousseff.
Alencar served eight years as deputy to former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who left office at the end of last year. He rose from humble origins in the town of Itamuri in Minas Gerais state as the 11th of 15 children, and worked his way up from poverty to establish a multi-million dollar textile business and then into politics. He was elected to the Brazilian senate in 1998.
In November 2004 he was sworn in as Defense Minister, following the resignation of José Viegas Filho. He tried to resign on several occasions, claiming that a businessman would hardly be the best choice for running a nation’s military forces. Nevertheless, President Lula Inácio Lula da Silva convinced him to stay until March 2006, when Alencar did resign his ministerial post.
Despite his disagreements with some Lula administration policies, Alencar was officially invited by Lula to once again be his running mate in the 2006 general elections. With Lula’s re-election victory on October 29, Alencar secured his position as Vice President for another term.
Alencar had fought abdominal cancer since 1997, undergoing repeated surgery in Brazil and U.S.