Page last updated at 20:46 GMT, Wednesday, 25 June 2008 21:46 UK

Brazil ex-first lady Cardoso dies

By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Ruth Cardoso pictured in 2007
Mrs Cardoso was noted for her work with the poorest members of society

Many tributes have been paid to Ruth Cardoso, wife of Brazil's former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who has died aged 77.

She had earlier been released from hospital after treatment for chest pains and died at home in Sao Paulo.

Mrs Cardoso was a professor in anthropology and an author. Her husband was president from 1995 until 2003.

Current President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva described the death of Mrs Cardoso as a great loss.

Fellow academics paid particular tribute to her work as an anthropologist and said she was among the first to begin studies of the country's favelas or shanty towns.

In a statement he added: "It is difficult to believe that the determined intellectual whom I met many years ago, with firm convictions, noble gestures and at the same time sensitivity for the drama of social inequality has left us."

Mrs Cardoso was among the founders of Communidade Solidaria which brings together public and private partnerships to tackle poverty in Brazil, a country with high levels of inequality.

She taught in a number of universities in Latin America and the United States, and was the author of several books.

Her husband's Brazilian Social Democracy Party cancelled events on Wednesday which had been planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its foundation.

She is survived by her husband and three children.

Country profile: Brazil
22 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

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