Dilma Roussef’s Biography

Dilma Vana Rousseff is 62 years old and an economist. She was born in Belo Horizonte, the state capital of Minas Gerais, to Bulgarian migrant Pedro Rousseff and teacher Dilma Jane da Silva. Divorced, she has one daughter and has built a life grounded in determination, competence and social sensitivity.
Her work became widely renowned under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva´s administration. She served as the Minister of Mines and Energy and as the Chief of Staff within the Executive branch. She led key actions undertaken by the executive branch through programs such as the Growth Acceleration Program (PAC), “Light for All” and “My House, My Life”. She also set the rules for governing the exploration of the pre-salt layer oil deposits.

Fight for democracy

During Brazil’s military regime (1964–1985), when the constitutional rights of Brazilians were suspended, Dilma took part in resistance movements against the dictatorship. She was arrested in Sao Paulo and in 1973 she moved to Porto Alegre, the state capital of Rio Grande do Sul, where she graduated with a degree in Economics from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul.
In the late 1970s, Dilma fought for amnesty for citizens who had been deprived of their political rights and was subsequently persecuted and expelled from the country by the military government. At the time, together with then husband Carlos Araújo, she helped found the Democratic Labor Party (PDT) of Rio Grande do Sul. She was an active militant in the party and worked side by side with historic figures in Brazilian politics such as Leonel Brizola. She played a decisive role in the Diretas Já (Direct Elections Now) movement – the largest civil mobilization in the recent history of Brazil, which ultimately led to the return to democracy.
In 1986, Dilma held her first public position. She was appointed by Alceu Collares – a member of the Democratic Labor Party who had been elected mayor of Porto Alegre – to lead the Municipal Secretary of Treasury. In the early 1990s, Dilma presided over the Economics and Statistics Foundation, a state institution geared toward developing social and economic research and surveys.
In 1993, during Alceu Collares’ term in office, she became the Secretary of Energy and Communications of Rio Grande do Sul; a position she held again under Olívio Dutra’s term in office in 1998. Her work as the Secretary of Energy and Communications would later be recognized throughout Brazil.
While working in the Rio Grande do Sul government, Dilma designed an emergency public works program, which resulted in the deployment of 984 kilometers of transmission lines, construction of hydroelectric and thermoelectric power plants, and the implementation of wind energy. Moreover, she mobilized both the public and private sector in a major effort to reduce energy consumption without decreasing production or impacting the well being of the population. 
In 2001, Dilma joined the Workers´ Party (PT). One year later, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva (Lula) was elected President of the Republic of Brazil. Lula was impressed with Dilma´s knowledge and experience in the energy sector and appointed her Minister of Mines and Energy.

Lula and Dilma: the partnership that changed Brazil

Between 2003 and 2005, Dilma led an in-depth redesign of Brazil’s electricity sector. The measures she put in place were key to preventing energy rationing or interruption of power supply that would otherwise have proved detrimental to national development. Private investments were attracted to build hydroelectric, thermoelectric and wind power plants. Biodiesel research and production were encouraged.
Energy generation and transmission capabilities were expanded. The Light for All program was created and has thus far made electricity available to more than 11 million Brazilians living in rural areas and in the outskirts of large cities.
On the environmental front, a great deal of progress has been made. The deforested area in the Amazonian region was reduced by 74% in the past six years; coupled with an increase in the use of renewable and clean sources in the overall energy mix.
In 2005 Dilma´s efficiency was broadly recognized both within and outside of government circles. The President chose her to serve as his Chief of Staff and to oversee the work of all of the ministries. The partnership between Lula and Dilma was then consolidated, thus setting new benchmarks for national development.
In her capacity as Chief of Staff Minister under the President’s Office, Dilma performed a decisive role in transforming Brazil into a country that grows while distributing income and fighting social inequalities. Through this approach, more than 14 million Brazilians were able to have access to formal jobs; another 24 million came out of absolute poverty, and 31 million moved into the middle class.
Dilma´s work was recognized nationwide for her role as coordinator of the Growth Acceleration Program – a set of economic policies that prioritized investments in infrastructure works such as sanitation, housing, transportation, energy and water resources. The production chains in the mechanical, metal, steel, chemical and precision engineering industries were renewed. The shipbuilding industry was born again. Port and airport infrastructure works envisaged for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics have also been included in the Growth Acceleration Program.

Dilma launched strategic programs such as “My House, My Life”, the biggest housing program ever undertaken in the nation´s history and which is expected to build one million new houses. Education in Brazil has seen impressive growth. So far, 14  federal universities and 117 campuses have been opened. In addition, 136 large technical training schools were created and 214 new educational establishments are expected to be set up, i.e., almost half a million new places by the end of the year.

During Dilma´s term in office as president of Petrobras´ Board of Directors Brazil became self-sufficient in oil production. Research projects carried out by the company have consolidated Brazil’s expertise in deep-water oil exploration. Three large oil fields were discovered in the pre-salt layer, at an average depth of five thousand meters. It is expected that up to 100 billion barrels of oil are to be extracted from these deposits.Brazil’s historic debt with the IMF was fully paid and – thanks to a strong domestic market – Brazil was one the last countries to go into the economic crisis that shook financial markets to the core in 2008 and one of the first countries to come out of it. Recent studies point out that Brazil is now moving towards eradicating extreme poverty and positioned to become the planet’s fifth largest economy in this decade.