Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires
Former President of the Republic of Cape Verde

Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires
Former President of the Republic of Cape Verde, Pedro De Verona Rodrigues Pires, was born on April 29, 1934, in the Municipality of São Filipe, on the Island of Fogo.

He completed his early education in the cities of S. Filipe and Praia, and graduated from Gil Eanes High School in São Vicente. He left Portugal in 1956 to attend the Faculty of Science in Lisbon, where he was drafted into mandatory military service, serving as an Officer in the Portuguese Air Force. In June of 1961, along with a large group of young Africans, he decided to secretly abandon Portugal to join the Partido Africano da Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde (PAIGC). During his career at the PAIGC, he assumed an important role in political and military planning, as a member of the Struggle’s Executive Committee, the War Council, and as commander of a Military Region. He ultimately played a large role in negotiating independence from Portugal for both Guinea-Bissau (1974) and Cape Verde (1975).

In June 1975, he was elected Deputy of the National Assembly (Member of Parliament) and chosen to head the first independent Government of Cape Verde. Pires enacted emergency plans to spur development and respond to the needs of the new country. He liberalized the Cape Verdean economy to encourage national investment and savings and to attract foreign direct investments. His strategy succeeded: Cape Verde’s GNP expanded to 2.5 times its size, Cape Verde achieved one of the best Human Development Indices in Africa, and made significant improvements in health, education, training and literacy. Internationally, the Cape Verdean government played an important role in the negotiation processes that led to the independence of Namibia and to the withdrawal of Cuban and South-African military forces from Angola.

He was elected as the third President of the Republic of Cape Verde on February 25, 2001. He has earned many honors for his service to the country as activist and President, including, most recently, the 2011 Mo Ibrahim African Leadership Prize. He was awarded the prize for transforming the country into “a model of democracy, stability, and increased prosperity.”

He is married to Adélcia Barreto Pires and has two daughters, Sara and Indira Pires.