José Dirceu

José Dirceu (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʒoˈzɛ dʒiɾˈsew]; born March 16, 1946), in full José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva, is a former Brazilian politician. His political rights were suspended by the Brazilian House of Representatives and he was found guilty by the Brazilian Supreme Court of active corruption and conspiracy in two separate lawsuits.[1]

José Dirceu
José Dirceu.jpg
Chief of Staff of the Presidency
In office
January 1, 2003 – June 21, 2005
PresidentLuiz Inácio Lula da Silva
Preceded byPedro Parente
Succeeded byDilma Rousseff
Federal Deputy for São Paulo
In office
February 1, 1999 – December 1, 2005
In office
February 1, 1991 – February 1, 1995
National President of the Workers' Party
In office
October 29, 1995 – December 7, 2002
Preceded byRui Falcão
Succeeded byJosé Genoíno
State Deputy of São Paulo
In office
February 1, 1987 – February 1, 1991
Personal details
José Dirceu de Oliveira e Silva

(1946-03-16) March 16, 1946 (age 74)
Passa Quatro, Minas Gerais, Brazil
Political partyPT (1980-present)
Other political
PCB (1961-1966)
Alma materPontifical Catholic University of São Paulo

He participated in an armed revolutionary group after the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état, and was exiled in 1969. He returned in 1980 and was politically active, culminating in a post as chief-of-staff to Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva's administration from 2003 until his resignation due to corruption charges.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Dirceu in 1968

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

In 1969 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, received military training and studied on the island. According to him, he changed his appearance through plastic surgery. Dirceu returned to Brazil in 1975 under 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 unknown even to his wife, until 1979, when he returned to Cuba.

His official exile ended in 1980, after amnesty. Separated from his first wife, he married again, to the psychologist Ângela Saragosa, and assumed his real identity. The marriage to 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 careerEdit

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). He was elected president of the PT in 1995 and re-elected in 1997.[3]

Dirceu held numerous posts in the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), of which he is a founder, including the presidency of the National Executive between 1995 and 1997. In 1989 he coordinated first presidential campaign of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

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 to June 16, 2005, Dirceu was Lula's chief-of-staff. In Brazil, the chief-of-staff has a ministerial status similar to the British Cabinet Office, and Lula's presidential decree putting him in charge of all government appointments gave him more power still.[4]

Mensalão corruption scandalEdit

Dirceu's departure as Lula's chief-of-staff is attributed to 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 breaching the parliamentary decorum due to his involvement with the Mensalão scandal, and barred from holding any executive or legislative positions until 2015. As of 2006, he was practicing in a law firm in Rio de Janeiro.

He was prosecuted and convicted[when?] by the Attorney General, charged with being the leader of the mensalão. He charged with of corruption, embezzlement, racketeering and money laundering, among other charges, by the Supreme Federal Tribunal in August 2012,[5] and found guilty in October 2012. He is currently[when?] serving a 7-year sentence at the Papuda prison.

Petrobras corruption scandalEdit

On August 3, 2015 he was again arrested on suspicion of corruption and money laundering as result of the Operation Car Wash investigation.[6] On May 18, 2016, he was found guilty and sentenced to 23 years and three months in prison.[7] He had previously been sentenced to more than ten years' imprisonment in connection with mensalo.[8] On May 3, 2017 an appeal court granted him bail pending appeal, which had previously been denied.[9] The prosecutor in charge of the investigation called the decision "incoherent" and said that Dirceu's liberty posed "real risk to society". Prosecutors charged Dirceu the same day with diverting R2.4 million from Petrobras contracts with Engevix [pt] and UTC.[10]


  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. ^ Wendy Hunter (2010). The Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil, 1989–2009. Cambridge University Press. p. 127. ISBN 978-1139492669 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ John Crocitti (2012). John Crocitti; Monique Vallance (eds.). Brazil Today: An Encyclopedia of Life in the Republic. 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 191. ISBN 978-0313346729 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ Bento, Lucas (2012-10-09). "Brazil's Trial of the Century". Yale Journal of International Affairs.
  6. ^ "Brazilian Police Arrest José Dirceu, Ex-Chief of Staff, in Petrobras Probe". The Wall Street Journal.
  7. ^ "Moro Condena Dirceu a 23 anos de Prisão". Folha de São Paulo.
  8. ^ "Former Brazil presidential chief of staff sentenced to 23 years for corruption". The Guardian. May 18, 2016. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  9. ^ "Brazil's former Lula aide Jose Dirceu freed to await corruption appeal result". BBC. May 3, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.
  10. ^ "Dirceu's release by STF is "incoherent," says Lava Jato's coordinator" (in Portuguese). UOL. May 2, 2017. Retrieved July 25, 2017.

Further readingEdit

Party political offices
Preceded by
Rui Falcão
National President of the Workers' Party
Succeeded by
José Genoíno
Political offices
Preceded by
Pedro Parente
Chief of Staff of the Presidency
Succeeded by
Dilma Rousseff