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Roberto Gurgel | Gone But Not Forgotten


A political backgrounder, noted down for future information.

Source: Altamiro Borges

Today (August 15) marks the end of the turbulent and sinister term of Roberto Gurgel at the head  of the federal prosecutor’s office (PGR). Constantly flattered by the media, he used his lengthy mandate to target political enemies and protect his henchmen.

He became the principal executioner of  José Dirceu and other Workers Party leaders accused in the case of the “monthly payola.”

At the same time, he sat on investigations against former Senator  Demóstenes Torres, who had performed favors for numbers racketeer Carlinhos Cachoeira. Now, as he retires from PGR, he trades in his role as slingshot and becomes  a man made of glass.

In the national congress, a number of lawmakers have already called for investigations of Roberto Gurgel.

Senator Fernando Collor, for example, demands explanations over the acquisition of computer equipment without competitive bidding. Federal deputy Anthony Garotinho accuses him of prevarication — that is, lying.

The most serious challenge he faces is Operation Monte Carlo, which unmasked the ties of Torres with organized crime.

Gurgel did his utmost to postpone the investigation of a right-wing politician whom Veja magazine heralded as a “a musketeer of ethics.”

The case in question revealed — or promises to reveal — a lot about the underworld of the Brazilian press, where at least one major newsweekly makes itself available day and night to keep organized crime figures happy. See

It got to the point where Veja was producing bombastic cover stories made to order for this off-the-books customer.

As blogger Luis Nassif has pointed out, Gurgel has burdened the PGR with a heavy  legacy. “Gurgel politicized the MPF, he used it for partisan ends, he began operating  politically in partnership with other militants, such as  Gilmar Mendes and Joaquim Barbosa (of the Supreme Court). He used the powers received from the Executive and Legislature to legitimize this activity. He was a typical Brazilian joke … though his authority derives from the Executive, he comported himself as an absolutist, an emperor.”

Now a day of reckoning has come, however. First of all, it will be necessary to rethink the activities of the Public Ministry (MP), which Gurgel’s conduct has so demoralized.

Created by the 1988 Constitution, the MP is charged with  “defending the rule of law, the democratic process and indispensable social and individual interests (Article 127, CF/88). Since its creation, the office of Procurador Geral da República — attorney-general — has been occupied by Geraldo Brindeiro (1995-2003), who was named by FHC, as well as  Cláudio Fonteles (2003-2005), Antonio Fernando (2005-2009) and Roberto Gurgel, all three named by  Lula.

Brindeiro has already been unmasked as a “procrastinator-general” who posponed all of the investigations into FHC and other Toucan figures. The others completed their mission with a mixed record.

Gurgel, on the other hand, used his powerful office as a screen for the opposition against the Lula government — what a terrible selection Lula made! Gurgel transformed the PGR into a partisan, authoritarian institution that served the interests of the wealthy and the conservative. In addition to rethinking the role of the MP, the mess left behind by Gurgel should be looked at carefully. Roberto Gurgel: [gone but not soon forgotten]!