Biography of President Pedro Pires
The President of the Republic of Cape Verde, HE Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires, was born on April 29, 1934 in the county of S. Filipe, Island of Fogo.
He completed his elementary and secondary education respectively at S. Filipe, Praia and S.Vicente.
In 1956 he left to Portugal to attend Lisbon University of Sciences. However, before concluding his degree, he was called to serve in the Portuguese Air Force as an officer.
Pires’ youth is marked by hard memories of the famine that desolated the Islands of Cape Verde in 1943 and 1947. These contributed to reinforce his patriotism and the notion of an urgent need to eliminate the colonial domination in Cape Verde.
In June 1961, together with a group of African youth, he decided to clandestinely leave Portugal to join the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde (PAIGC), which was led by Amilcar Cabral.
From 1962 to 1965 he worked in Senegal and in France mobilizing Capeverdean patriots for the armed struggle, and at the same time keeping the link with the secret PAIGC cells in Cape Verde.
From 1965 to 1968 Pires led the first cell of Capeverdean combatants who received military training with the goal of developing an armed struggle in Cape Verde. At the end of this military training this group was sent to the bushes of Guinea-Bissau, since the Party decided that there were no more conditions for an armed struggle in Cape Verde.
From 1968 to 1974, he achieved high responsibilities in the political and military arena as a Commander of a Military Region in Guinea-Bissau.
In 1973 he was chosen to chair The National Commission of the PAIGC for Cape Verde. With the proclamation of Independence of Guinea-Bissau in 1973, he was nominated as Assistant Minister for the Defense of the Republic of Guinea-Bissau.
After the reestablishment of democracy in Portugal in April 1974, Pires led the PAIGC delegation that negotiated with the Portuguese government, the recognition of Guinea Bissau as an independent State. This culminated with the Argel’s Agreement in August of the same year.
In October 1974, Pires returned to Cape Verde to lead the Capeverdean branch of PAIGC. Under his leadership, the Party made great advances towards the independence.
In December 1974, as the head of the PAIGC delegation, Mr. Pires negotiated and signed with the Portuguese Government the political transition, which led to national independence of Cape Verde on July 5th, 1975.
In June 1974 Pires was elected member of the Parliament of Cape Verde and designated on July 6, 1975 as the first Prime Minister of the independent nation of Cape Verde.
In 1981 Pires played a key role in the political process, which led to the separation of the Capeverdean Branch of PAIGC, forming the African Party for Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV). He was then elected Assistant Secretary General of PAICV.
During three consecutive mandates, the Governments headed by Pires conducted a pragmatic and ponderous politic with the goal of building an organized, efficient and credible State. To solve the country’s serious problems and urgent needs, and at the same time to launch the infrastructure for development, many programs were conceived and implemented in various sectors. In the late 1980s, measures to liberalize the national economy were implemented to foster investment of the national savings and to attract external investments.
Among other achievements, the executives headed by Pires, were able in 12 years, 1976-1988, despite starting from a situation of extreme poverty and lack of resources, to increase the National Production by 2.5 times and duplicated the per capita production. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased from $260.00 to $816.00. The country saw substantial improvements in health, education, and alphabetization. These translated in one of the greatest index of Human Development in Africa and a significant improvement in the quality of life and defense of the environment.
In the international arena, Pires’ Government built an useful State and played an important role in the process of negotiations that led to the independence of Namibia, and the evacuation of the Cuban and South African military presence in Angola.
In February of 1990, envisioning the need for a radical change in the political system, Pires led the process of introducing the multi-party system in Cape Verde.
In January 1991 his Government organize the first multi-party elections in Cape Verde. His Party, the PAICV, lost the elections and Pires was elected Member of Parliament for Praia. In the same year, he was reconfirmed leader of the PAICV and the Chief of the opposition.
In 1993, he left the party’s leadership, but in September of 1997 he returned to lead the party until mid 2000 when his Party won the local elections. With this new victory, Pires decided to leave the direction of the Party and a new generation of leaders took the lead. In September 2000, he announced his candidature to the Presidency of the Republic of Cape Verde. He was elected President on February 25, 2001. He is the third President of the Republic of Cape Verde.
HE Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires is married to Adelcia Barreto Pires, and they have two daughters, Sara and Indira Pires.
President Pedro Pires is the recipient of the following accolades:
Ordem Amílcar Cabral of Cabo Verde,
Medalha Amílcar Cabral of Guinea-Bissau
Ordem do Leão of Senegal
Ordem Infante D. Henrique of Portugal.
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