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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Citing health reasons, Brazil’s Foreign Minister José Serra handed in his resignation to President Michel Temer on Wednesday afternoon. As one of the founding fathers of the PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party) Serra has been one of the leading political figures in Brazil since the country’s return to democracy.

Brazil, Brasilia,Brazil's Foreign Minister, José Serra  handed in his resignation on Wednesday,
Brazil’s Foreign Minister, José Serra handed in his resignation on Wednesday, photo by Wilson Dias/Agência Brasil.

“I have asked to be exonerated from the position of Minister of State for Foreign Affairs,” began Serra’s resignation letter.

“I do so with sadness but due to health problems which are known to you, which prevent me from maintaining the pace of international travel inherent to the function of Chancellor,” it concluded.

In December Serra underwent back surgery and local media reports say that he had been complaining of pain due to the procedure. According to the former presidential candidate doctors have said that his recovery would take four months.

It is expected that Serra will return to his elected post as senator from São Paulo. He was elected in 2014 and his term in the Senate will end in 2022.

In his eight months as Foreign Minister for the Temer Administration, Jose Serra, had his share of controversies. Already as head of the Foreign Relations Ministry, Serra issued a statement in May accusing the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Cuba Ecuador and Nicaragua of ‘spreading lies’, when the leaders of these countries questioned the legitimacy of the impeachment trial process against then-suspended President Dilma Rousseff.

In July, Brazil, led by Serra, pressured the other Mercosur countries not to allow Venezuela to occupy the temporary presidency of the economic bloc and in December suspended the Latin American country from the bloc.

In addition to being elected to Brazil’s Senate, Serra also held posts as Planning Minister and Health Minister during the Fernando Henrique Cardoso presidency, mayor of São Paulo city, and governor of São Paulo state.

He ran for the presidency twice, losing both times to PT party candidates (Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff).

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