FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE03 April 2011
José Alencar Gomes da Silva, Brazil's vice-president from 2003 to 2010, died on 29 March at the age of 79 after a long battle against cancer.
Alencar served as deputy to President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva throughout his two terms of office. Lula and his successor, President Dilma Rousseff, returned early from a visit to Portugal to attend his funeral in Belo Horizonte, capital of the state of Minas Gerais.
Alencar was born into a poor family in the small town of Itamuri in Minas Gerais in 1931, the eleventh of fifteen children. He rose to become one Brazil's most prominent business leaders, building up a multi-million dollar textile business.
In his political career he represented Minas Gerais in Brazil’s senate from 1998 before Lula chose him as his running mate for the presidency in 2002.
'Ours was a relationship of brothers and comrades,' Lula said this week, while President Rousseff said it was a 'great honour' to have lived and worked with him.
Source: Embassy of Brazil in London