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José Serra (1942) Brazilian politician

José Serra (born March 19, 1942 in São Paulo, Brazil) is Brazilian Minister of Public Health and gained world media exposure last week with his decision to ignore Swiss company Roche's patent on an AIDS curing medicine. Critics claim his action was a publicity stunt because Serra would like to become the next Brazilian president at the 2002 elections. Serra, married, two children, could use some extra votes. He is known as a not-so-friendly workaholic with little charisma. At the last election polls he was on 7 percent, while he failed to become mayor of his home city São Paulo twice.

In 1964, Polytechnic University of São Paulo student José Serra was union leader. As such, the new military regime forced him into exile for 14 years. In Chile and the United States, he managed to acquire an impressive CV as economist, engineer and industrial planning expert.

After his return to Brazil, the former Princeton student made a political career as well. First in the large São Paulo district, but from 1995 as member of the government. In 1998, he was appointed Minister of Public Health. His now infamous AIDS patent ignorance received positive critiques in and outside Brazil. Even his opponents, 'though pointing out his urge for public relations, support his decision because it's the goal that counts. Serra's biggest rival for the presidency Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva also cheered his judgment: "I think his decision is courageous. Brazil cannot afford its ill citizens getting treated unfairly for company profits".

Sources include de Volkskrant and the website of the Brazilian Ministry of Public Health at http://www.saude.gov.br.

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