Former Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and Social Equipment Jorge Coelho died this Wednesday at the age of 66. He suffered a heart attack when he was in a house he had in Figueira da Foz. The news was initially advanced by SIC Notícias, where he was one of the commentators of “Quadratura do Círculo”.
Jorge Coelho started his political life in 1969, supporting the opposition to the regime in Viseu. He would later be one of the founders of the People’s Democratic Union. He joined the Socialist Party in 1982 and later that year he was appointed chief of staff to the Secretary of State for Transport, Francisco Murteira Nabo.
He was minister in the two governments led by António Guterres: first, in 1995, he assumed functions as Deputy and Internal Administration, then, in 2002, as responsible for public works in the portfolio of the Presidency and Social Equipment. He resigned after the fall of the Entre-os-rios bridge – at the time he uttered the remarkable phrase “guilt cannot die unmarried”.
After public positions, and after the stipulated period of disgust was fulfilled, Jorge Coelho ceased to be a State adviser in 2008 and joined the Mota-Engil Group as CEO. Two years earlier, he had already resigned as a deputy for the PS and abandoned all party positions.
He made up the panel of the political commentary and analysis program “Quadratura do Círculo” (broadcast by SIC Notícias and which has since been broadcast on TVI and TSF under the name “Circulatura do Quadrado”). After 12 years of comments, he abandoned it, explaining that he was no longer “following all the current issues”.
“Whoever messes with the PS takes it” was one of the phrases that marked Jorge Coelho’s journey. It was March 2001 and in a speech by the socialist campaign he used the expression to respond to the accusations of Pires de Lima, then president of the Portuguese Bar Association, who accused the Socialist Government of interference in the courts and the justice system.
He was born on April 17, 1954 – he would complete 67 years from now -. He was from Mangualde.
“I can’t even accept it”
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was one of the first voices to mourn the death of the former socialist leader. The President of the Republic said he was “in shock” with the news, reminding Jorge Coelho as a man of “Analytical acumen, combative spirit, sometimes controversial but very friendly and open to all quarters and all kinds of reality”.
Speaking to SIC Notícias, António Guterres, who led the two Governments in which Coelho was minister, considered it “a great loss for the country”. “It was the joy of living, a man of enthusiasm, of an inner strength, he was the personification of life. Knowing that he died is something that, honestly, I can’t even accept. It is a great loss for the country, but above all a great loss for friends and there were many. We are all heartbroken. ”
António Lobo Xavier had spoken on the phone with his friend and former companion on the weekly political commentary program at around 1:30 pm on Wednesday and was “far from imagining” what would happen. Speaking to SIC Notícias, he highlighted the “enormous loyalty to friends, promoting friendship, loyalty, sensitivity, tolerance and respect for others”. He added: “I had a legion of friends, I am just one more.”
Note: the initially advanced information that Jorge Coelho had died of a heart attack followed by a road accident was incorrect. The former minister was at home, in Figueira da Foz.