José Dirceu

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This name uses Portuguese naming customs. The first or maternal family name is Oliveira and the second or paternal family name is Silva.
José Dirceu
José Dirceu.jpg
39th Chief of Staff of the Presidency
In office
January 1, 2003 – June 21, 2005
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Preceded by Pedro Parente
Succeeded by Dilma Rousseff
Personal details
Born José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva
(1946-03-16) March 16, 1946 (age 70)
Passa Quatro, Brazil
Nationality Brazilian
Political party Workers' Party

José Dirceu (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒoˈzɛ dʒiʁˈsew]; b. Passa Quatro, Minas Gerais, March 16, 1946), in full José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva, is a former Brazilian politician. He has had his political rights suspended by the Brazilian House of Representatives and has been found guilty on charges of active corruption and conspiracy in two separate lawsuits judged by the Brazilian Supreme Court.[1]

He participated in a revolutionary armed group following the Brazilian military coup of 1964, and was exiled in 1969. He returned in 1980 and was active politically, his highest post was as the chief-of-staff to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's administration from 2003 to 2005, when he resigned due to corruption charges.[2]

Early life[edit]

Dirceu moved to São Paulo in 1961 and began his militancy by joining the "Ala Marighella" (later called the ALN) in 1966, a revolutionary armed group linked to the Brazilian Communist Party. In 1968 Dirceu, who was known as "Daniel", was the leader of the State Union of Students or UEE. As a consequence of his militancy in the student movement, Dirceu was arrested on October 12, 1968, during the 30th Congress of the National Student Union (UNE), in Ibiúna.

In 1969 the Marxist revolutionary groups MR8 and ALN abducted the US ambassador to Brazil Charles Burke Elbrick. The revolutionaries demanded the liberation of fifteen prisoners, including José Dirceu. This incident is the basis of the film Four Days in September.

After that he travelled to Cuba. While in exile, Dirceu worked, got military training and studied in the island. According to him, he changed his appearance through plastic surgery. Dirceu returned to Brazil in 1975 with the false name of "Carlos Henrique Gouveia de Mello". He married his first wife and lived in Paraná in total secrecy, with his true identity unbeknownst even to his wife, until 1979, when he returned to Cuba.

His official exile ended in 1980, after amnesty had been granted. Separated from his first wife, he married again, to the psychologist Ângela Saragosa and he assumed his real identity. The marriage with Ângela Saragosa came to an end in 1990. In 1991 he married his current wife, Maria Rita Garcia Andrade, an old friend from his militant days. He has three children.

Dirceu played an active role in the movement to grant amnesty to those tried for and convicted of political activities, as well as in the coordination of the Diretas Já campaign in 1984 in favor of direct presidential elections.

Political career[edit]

With a law degree from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, he served as assemblyman from 1987 to 1991 (SP-PT) and congressman from 1991 to 1995 (SP-PT) and, again, from 1999 to 2003 (SP-PT).

Dirceu held numerous posts in the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), of which he is one of the founders, including the presidency of the National Executive between 1995 and 1997. In 1989 he coordinated Lula's first presidential campaign for the party.

He exercised various parliamentary activities in municipal councils, state legislative assemblies, and the legislative chamber of the Federal District. Among them, he was a member of the Finance and Budget Commission and vice-president of the Public Safety Commission.

From January 1, 2003 until June 16, 2005, Dirceu was the chief-of-staff of President Lula (in Brazil, the chief-of-staff has a ministerial status similar to the British Cabinet Office).

Mensalão Corruption Scandal[edit]

Dirceu's departure as Lula's Chief-of-Staff is attributed to his masterminding of a massive corruption scheme in the legislature, the Mensalão scandal. Upon leaving the government, Dirceu resumed his roles as an elected congressman for the state of São Paulo. He was expelled from the Congress on November 30, 2005, accused of breaking the parliamentary decorum due to his involvement with the Mensalão scandal. He cannot be elected to any executive or legislative positions until 2015. As of 2006, he practices in a law firm in Rio de Janeiro.

He was prosecuted and convicted by the Republic General Attorney, charged of being the leader of the mensalão. He was judged for alleged corruption, embezzlement, racketeering and money laundering, among other charges, by the Supreme Federal Tribunal in August 2012,[3] and was found guilty in October 2012. He is currently serving a 7-year sentence at the Papuda prison system.

Petrobras Corruption Scandal[edit]

On August 3, 2015 he was again arrested on suspicious of corruption and money laundering as result of the Operação Lava Jato investigation. [4] On May 18, 2016, he was found guilty and sentenced to 23 years and three months in prison. [5]


  1. ^ Veja, Revista. "O resultado do Mensalão". 
  2. ^ Barrionuevo, Alexei (2007-08-29). "Close Political Ally of Brazilian President to Face Corruption Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-23. 
  3. ^ Bento, Lucas (2012-10-09). "Brazil's Trial of the Century". Yale Journal of International Affairs. 
  4. ^ "Brazilian Police Arrest José Dirceu, Ex-Chief of Staff, in Petrobras Probe". The Wall Street Journal. 
  5. ^ "Moro Condena Dirceu a 23 anos de Prisão". Folha de São Paulo. 
Government offices
Preceded by
Pedro Parente
Chief of Staff of the Presidency
Succeeded by
Dilma Rousseff