Fradique de Menezes was born in 1942 to a São Toméan mother and Portuguese father. He studied in Portugal and Belgium and held several public posts, both political and diplomatic, including foreign minister and ambassador in Europe. Not withstanding this experience, de Menezes' political career has been brief for an elected head of state, and he is foremost a businessman with substantial interests in the cocoa export and cement import sector. Owing to his wealth and prominence in the country's private sector, de Menezes became a force to reckon with in the country, made himself known in the international donor community, and earned himself recognition as one of São Tomé and Príncipe's most influential business people in the sub-region. De Menezes was required by the Constitution to drop his dual Portuguese citizenship so that he could run for president.