LISBON, Portugal — Jorge Sampaio, a former two-term president of Portugal and one of the most prominent political figures of his generation, has died. He was 81.
The current Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, announced Sampaio’s death on Friday. He did not give a cause of death, though Sampaio had been in delicate health for several years and had been in hospital for the past two weeks.
Sampaio “prepared himself to be a fighter, and the banners of his fight were freedom and equality,” Rebelo de Sousa said in a televised statement.
He said Sampaio was like “a red-haired hurricane” in the 1960s when as a young lawyer he stood up to Portugal’s then-dictatorship.
But over his six-decade political career in Portugal as a center-left Socialist and later as a diplomat for the United Nations, Sampaio earned praise for his low-key, down-to-earth manner. He once said he had always wanted to become an orchestra conductor.