José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒoˈzɛ dʒiʁˈsew]; b. Passa Quatro, Minas Gerais, March 16, 1946) is a former Brazilian politician. He has had his political rights suspended by the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and has been found guilty on charges of active corruption and conspiracy in two separate lawsuits judged by the Brazilian Supreme Court.
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.
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.
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
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, and was found guilty in October 2012. He is currently serving a 7-year sentence at the Papuda prison system.
- Veja, Revista. "O resultado do Mensalão".
- Barrionuevo, Alexei (2007-08-29). "Close Political Ally of Brazilian President to Face Corruption Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-23.
- Bento, Lucas (2012-10-09). "Brazil's Trial of the Century". Yale Journal of International Affairs.
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- Minister José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva Pinto - Biographical Data (from Brazilian government)
- Dirceu, the radical wizard, Narco News
- Brazil's Congress suspended amid angry scenes, Reuters
- A profile of José Dirceu, based on an account published by Veja magazine, Brazzil magazine
- Alianca Libertadora Nacional (ALN), MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base
- Dirceu finally taken out of office
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