Brazil: Former Lula’s Right Hand Sacked from Congress

Former Brazilian government strongman José Dirceu, from the ruling Workers Party (PT, São Paulo) was deprived of his seat in the Chamber of Deputies in the wee hours of this morning.

293 legislators voted in favor of revoking the mandate, 192 against, 8 abstained, and there was one blank and one invalid vote. Dirceu is forbidden from running for any public office in Brazil for at least 8 years.

President of the Workers’ Party (PT) for eight years and in his third term as federal deputy, Dirceu coordinated Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victorious presidential campaign in 2002. In Lula’s Administration he served as presidential chief of staff for 30 months.

In August, the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB) filed a motion calling for the revocation of his mandate for breach of parliamentary decorum.

The PTB accused him of commanding, from his executive post, a vote-buying operation in the National Congress to gain support for bills backed by the Administration.

Dirceu denies that such a scheme, referred to as the "big monthly allowance" ("mensalão"), ever existed. "I am not the boss of the ‘mensalão’; I never proposed the purchase of votes. This House is judging me, and it is also placing itself on trial. It is not true that this House voted for reforms because of vote-buying," he declared in the Chamber, before his mandate was revoked by his fellow legislators.

During his speech, Dirceu also said that he intends to remain active in politics. "I will not kowtow, I will not succumb. I will continue to do battle in a simple and humble way, without the advantages enjoyed by a legislator or political leader. I will have to refashion my life over the next five or ten years," he affirmed.

The vote on the Chamber floor endorsed the decision of the Ethics Council, which, by a vote of 13 to 1, had approved the opinion contained in a report submitted by deputy Julio Delgado (PSB – Minas Gerais) in favor of revoking the mandate of the former presidential chief of staff.

Dirceu’s seat in the Chamber will be filled by deputy Mariângela Duarte (PT – São Paulo) until the end of the current legislative term.

Agência Brasil

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