The former chairman of Brazil’s ruling Workers Party resigned on Wednesday as special adviser to the Defense Ministry after his conviction on corruption charges.
Jose Genoino, who was part of the armed resistance to the 1964-1985 military regime and helped found the Workers Party, or PT, in 1980, announced his resignation at a meeting of the party leadership in Sao Paulo.
A majority of the 10 Supreme Court justices voted to find Genoino guilty of corruption for the payment of bribes to lawmakers during the first two years of the PT’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva 2003-2011 tenure as president.
Convicted along with Genoino was Jose Dirceu, who was Lula’s political right arm for two decades.
“I withdraw from the government with the conscience of the innocent. I am not ashamed of anything. I will continue fighting with all my strength for a better, more just and sovereign Brazil, as I always have done,” Genoino said in his statement.
Dirceu, once seen as the natural successor to Lula, was forced to resign as presidential chief of staff in the summer of 2005 after lawmaker Roberto Jefferson accused the PT of having bribed legislators of other parties to build the congressional majority that the government failed to obtain at the polls in 2002.
The scandal didn’t stop Lula from winning a second four-year term in 2006 and his anointed successor, Dilma Rousseff, prevailed in the 2010 presidential contest.
“My conviction is an attempt to condemn an entire party, but they will fail. The judgment of the population will always favor us because they know who works for the just interests,” Genoino said Wednesday.
The prosecution of 37 people for the vote-buying scheme conceals a systematic campaign of hatred against the PT, he said.
The justices found him guilty based merely on the fact that he was PT chairman at the time of the bribes, Genoino said, brushing aside “an entire life dedicated, at great personal cost, to the cause of democracy and to a political project that is liberating Brazil from inequality and injustice.”