Carnage and Carnival: The Curious Career of Captain Guimarães


Guimarães (l.) with Rio mayor Cesar Maia (second from left)

Writing for the Agência Carta Maior, author Celso Lungaretti recalls the checkered past of one of the principal suspects in the Operation Hurricane scandal in Rio de Janeiro.

Federal and state judges, lawyer-lobbyists, police officials and gambling racketeers have been arrested in a scheme to buy and sell judicial rulings and political cover for criminal organizations that run underground lotteries, gambling halls and electronic gambling equipment.

Federal police caused a secondary flap by accusing bicho banker “Captain” Guimarães, semi-perpetual president of LIESA, the league of Rio’s largest carnival societies, of paying bribes to fix the results of this year’s nationally televised competitive carnival parades.

See Brazil: Hurricane Blows Lid Off Hummingbird Hype? and Rio: Carnival Carnage is Political Circus!

LIESA and the Mayor’s office have published all the judging notes from the 2007 competition in order to dispel the perception that the judging might have been rigged. They are available for download here.

Capt. Guimarães is an accused torturer from the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964-1985.

Nas últimas semanas, o ex-capitão do Exército Ailton Guimarães Jorge voltou a frequentar o noticiário policial, agora como um dos 25 contraventores cuja prisão foi pedida pela Polícia Federal, sob a acusação de explorarem jogos de azar no país, inclusive subornando membros do Executivo, Legislativo e Judiciário.

In recent weeks, former Army captain Ailton Guimarães Jorge returned to the police blotter, now as one of 25 scofflaws arrested by the Federal Police for running gambling rackets and bribing members of the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

O presidente da Liga Independente das Escolas de Samba do Rio de Janeiro já havia sido condenado em 1993 por envolvimento com o jogo-do-bicho, ao lado de outros 13 banqueiros, pela juíza Denise Frossard. Sabia-se que eles todos eram responsáveis por, pelo menos, 53 mortes.

The president of the Independent League of Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro (LIESA) was found guilty by judge Denise Frossard in 1993 of involvement in jogo do bicho [underground lotteries], along with 13 other bicho bankers. They were found responsible for at least 53 deaths.

Pegaram seis anos de prisão cada, a pena máxima por formação de quadrilha. Mas, em dezembro de 1996 estavam todos de volta às ruas, beneficiados por liberdade condicional ou indultos.

The were sentenced to six years each, the maximum sentence for racketeering. But in December 1996 they were all back on the streets, granted parole or clemency.

Mas, não são só os crimes atuais que fazem do Capitão Guimarães um personagem emblemático do que há de pior neste país. Ele é o mais notório exemplo vivo do banditismo inerente aos órgãos de repressão da ditadura militar.

But it is not Capt. Guimarães’ current crimes that make him a symbol of the worst of Brazil. He is the most notorious living example of the criminality inherent in the military dictatorship’s agencies of political repression.

A outra celebridade capaz de rivalizar com ele nesse quesito já morreu, ao que tudo indica como um arquivo apagado pelos próprios comparsas: o delegado Sérgio Paranhos Fleury, em cujo benefício os militares chegaram até a criar uma lei, com o único objetivo de mantê-lo fora das grades.

The only other celebrity capable of rivaling him in this respect has already died, by all indications silenced by his partners in crime: Sérgios Paranhos Fleury, in whose favor the generals even created a law whose only purpose was to keep him out of jail.

O Capitão Guimarães atuava na II seção (Inteligência) da PE da Vila Militar, que, como todas as equipes de torturadores da ditadura, auferia ganhos substanciais ao capturar ou matar militantes revolucionários.

Capt. Guimarães operated out of Section II (Intelligence) of the Army Police in Rio’s Vila Militar, a unit that, like all of the dictatorship’s torture squads, received substantial rewards for capturing or killing revolutionary militants.

Tudo que era apreendido com os resistentes e tivesse algum valor, virava butim a ser rateado entre aqueles rapinantes. Jamais cogitavam, por exemplo, devolver o dinheiro aos bancos que haviam sido expropriados pelos guerrilheiros urbanos. Numerário, veículos, armas e até objetos de uso pessoal iam sempre para a caixinha do bando. De mim, até os óculos roubaram.

Everything of value that was seized from resisters was treated as booty to be divvied up among these predators. They never contemplated, for example, returned money expropriated by urban guerrillas to the banks that they had robbed. Vehicles, weapons, and ever personal items went into the gang’s stash. From me, they even took my eyeglasses.

Havia também as recompensas oferecidas pelos empresários direitistas, bem expressivas. Eles definiram inclusive uma tabela com os órgãos de repressão: dirigente revolucionário preso valia tanto; integrante de grupo de fogo, um pouco menos, e assim por diante.

There were also rewards offered by right-wing businessmen, and substantial ones, too. They even drew up a sort of price list with the agents of repression: An arrested revolutionary leader was worth so much; a member of an assault group, a little less, and so on.

Ocorre que, em novembro de 1969, morreu como conseqüência das torturas aplicadas por Ailton Guimarães Jorge e seus comparsas o estudante Chael Charles Schreier. O episódio repercutiu pessimamente no mundo inteiro e no próprio Brasil, onde a revista Veja fez uma matéria-de-capa histórica sobre a tortura.

It happens that in November 1969, student Chael Charles Schreier died from tortured carried out by Capt. Guimarães and his colleagues. The episode had terrible repercussions throughout the world and inside Brazil, where Veja magazine ran a historical cover story on torture.

And was immediately shut down. Mino Carta was the editor at the time.

As Forças Armadas decidiram, então, proibir que cada unidade de Inteligência de cada Arma fosse à caça por sua própria conta. Unificaram o combate à luta armada no quartel da PE da rua Barão de Mesquita (Tijuca), que passou a ser a sede do DOI-Codi, integrado por oficiais da II Seção do Exército, do Serviço de Informações da Aeronáutica (Sisa) e do Centro de Informações da Marinha (Cenimar), mais investigadores da polícia civil.

The armed forced then decided to prohibit the intelligence services of each service branch from hunting for their own account. They unified operations at the Army Police Barracks in Tijuca, which later became the headquarters of DOI-CODI, made up of Section II, the Air Force’s SISA, and the Navy’s CENIMAR, as well as civil police investigators.

A equipe do Ailton Guimarães Jorge, até como punição pela morte do Schreier, foi alijada desse vantajoso esquema. Então, quando cheguei preso lá, em junho de 1970, aqueles rapinantes estavam desesperados com a falta de grana.

Guimarães’ team, as a punishment for the death of Schreier, was left out of this lucrative scheme. So when I arrived as a prisoner there in 1979, these vultures were desperate over the lack of money coming in.

Tinham se habituado a um padrão de vida mais elevado e já não conseguiam subsistir apenas com o soldo. Tentavam de todas as maneiras convencer seus superiores de que mereciam ser readmitidos no combate à luta armada, em vão.

They had gotten used to a higher standard of living and could not longer get by on their salaries alone. They did everything the could to convince their superiors they deserved to be readmitted to the war on the armed resistance, but to no avail.

Foi por isso que, em 1974, a equipe de torturadores da PE da Vila Militar envolveu-se com contrabandistas, para obter a renda adicional que tanto lhe fazia falta. O Exército acabou descobrindo e instaurando um Inquérito Policial-Militar contra soldados, cabos, sargentos e quatro oficiais, inclusive o tenente Ailton Joaquim (um dos 10 piores torturadores do período, segundo o Tortura Nunca Mais) e o capitão Aílton Guimarães Jorge.

It was for that reason that in 1974, the torturers from the PE in the Vila Militar got involved in smuggling, to make up the shortfall in their income. The Army wound up discovering the scheme and opened an investigation (IPM) against privates, corporals, sargents and four officers, including Lt. Ailton Joaquim (one of the 10 worst torturers of the time, according to Torture Never More) and Capt. Ailton Guimarães Jorge.

Justiça poética

Poetic justice.

As investigações foram conduzidas com o método que o Exército invariavelmente utilizava. Então, aqueles notórios torturadores acabaram conhecendo na própria pele a tortura. Houve até caso de assédio sexual à esposa de um dos acusados, por parte dos seus próprios colegas de farda…

The investigations were conducted according to the Army’s invariable methods. These notorious torturers wound up learning about torture from the receiving end. There was even a case of sexual assault on the wife of one of the accused, by his own comrades in arms.

Como o Élio Gaspari relata em “A Ditadura Escancarada”, o caso acabou, entretanto, em pizza:

But as Élio Gaspari recounts in his book … the case wound up in “pizza”:

– Todos os indiciados disseram em juízo que o coronel do 1PM lhes extorquira as confissões. A maioria deles sustentou que, surrados, assinaram os papéis sem lê-los. Num procedimento inédito, os oficiais do Conselho de Justiça decidiram que o processo tramitaria em segredo. Durante o julgamento a promotoria jogou a toalha, e, em maio de 1979, os 21 acusados foram absolvidos. O caso voltou ao STM, cinco ministros recusaram-se a relatá-lo, e, por unanimidade, confirmou-se a absolvição. A sentença baseou-se num só argumento: ‘Tudo o que se apurou nestes autos, o foi, exclusivamente, através de confissões, declarações e depoimentos extrajudiciais, retratados e desmentidos posteriormente em juízo, sob a alegação de violências e ameaças praticadas durante o IPM”.

All of the accused said during their trial that the Colonel frm the 1PM had extorted confessions from them. Most of them said that after being beaten they had signed the papers without reading them. In an unprecedented move, the officers of the military tribunal decided that the trial would be conducted under seal. The prosecutor eventually threw in the towel and, in May 1979, the 21 accused were found innocent. The case was appealed to the supreme military tribunal, where five judges refused to hear it and voted unanimously to uphold the verdict of not guilty. The ruling was based on a single argument: [the use of torture]

Ora, todos os IPMs instaurados contra os resistentes poderiam ser anulados pelos mesmíssimos motivos. Dois pesos, duas medidas.

Of course, all the IPMs conducted against resistance fighters could have been overturned for the same reason. There was a double standard.

A carreira militar do Capitão Guimarães, ficou, entretanto, comprometida. Nos quartéis, ele seria sempre visto como ovelha negra e tratado com má vontade. Então, pediu baixa e foi capitanear o jogo-do-bicho, conforme narra o Gaspari:

But Capt. Guimarães’ military career had been compromised. In the barracks he was viewed as a black sheep and shunned. So he resigned and went to lead the jogo-do-bicho, as Gaspari relates:

– Coube ao bicheiro Tio Patinhas consertar a vida de Ailton Guimarães Jorge. (…) O processo do contrabando ainda tramitava (…) quando ele se transferiu formalmente para a contravenção, levando a patente por apelido e diversos colegas como colaboradores. Começou como gerente do banqueiro Guto, sob cujo controle estavam quatro municípios fluminenses. Um dia três visitantes misteriosos tiraram Guto de casa e sumiram com ele. (…) Tio Patinhas passou-lhe a banca. Em três anos o Capitão Guimarães foi de tenente a general, sentando-se no conselho dos sete grandes do bicho, redigindo as atas das reuniões, delimitando as zonas dos pequenos banqueiros. Seu território estendeu-se de Niterói ao Espírito Santo. Seguindo a etiqueta de legitimação social de seus pares, apadrinhou a escola de samba Unidos de Vila Isabel e virou a maior autoridade do Carnaval, presidindo a liga das escolas do Rio de Janeiro. Rico e famoso, adquiriu uma aparência de árvore de Natal pelas cores de suas roupas e pelo ouro de seus cordões. Tornou-se um dos mais conhecidos comandantes da contravenção carioca. Do seu tempo da PE ficou-lhe o guarda-costas, um imenso ex-cabo que, como ele, começara no crime organizado da repressão política.

It was up to the bicho banker “Scrooge McDuck” to fix Guimarães’ life for him. The smuggling trial was still going on when he formalized his change of career, taking his military rank along with him as a nickname and various of his former colleagues as employees. He started out as a manager for the bicho banker Guto, who controlled four cities in the state of Rio. One day three mysterious visitors took Guto from his house and disappeared with him. “Scrooge McDuck” gave the Captain Guto’s bank. Within three years the Captain went from lieutenant to general, gaining a seat on the council of seven major bicho bankers, publishing the minutes of the meetings, adjudicating the territory of smaller bankers. His territory extended from Niterói north to Espirito Santo. Following the example of his peers, he sought social legitimacy by patronizing the Unidos de Vila Isabel carnival society and became the top man in Carnaval, presiding over LIESA. Rich and famous, he dressed like a Christmas tree, with brightly colored clothes and gold chains. He became one of the best-known leaders of organized crime in Rio. Left over from his days as an Army policeman was his bodyguard, an immense former corporal who, like him, had started out in the organized crime rackets of the political repression.

Esse cabo, Polvarelli, pesava 140 quilos e lutava judô. No final de 1969, ao tentar prender meu companheiro Eremias Delizoicov, que tinha apenas 18 anos, foi por ele atingido com um disparo no braço. Ele e os outros torturadores/meliantes retalharam então o Eremias com 35 tiros, tornando impossível até sua identificação (só souberam quem era pelas digitais).

This corporal, Polvarelli, weighed 140 kilos and practiced judo. In late 1969, trying to arrest my comrade Eremias Delizoicov, who was only 18 years old, he was hit in the arm with a bullet fired by Eremias. He and the other criminal torturers replied with 35 shots, making it impossible to identify Eremias (they could only identify him from fingerprints).

Depois, em junho de 1970, unicamente por ter sabido que eu era amigo do Eremias desde a infância, ele fez questão de vingar-se em mim pelo final prematuro de sua carreira de judoca: estourou meu tímpano com um fortíssimo tapa de mão aberta. Nunca mais tive audição normal, apesar das três cirurgias por que passei.

Later, in June 1979, simply because he knew that I was a childhood friend of Eremias, he made a point of revenging himself on me for the premature end to his judo career: He broke my eardrum with a powerful open-handed blow. I never recovered normal hearing, even after three surgeries.

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One thought on “Carnage and Carnival: The Curious Career of Captain Guimarães

  1. Pingback: Brazil: Editor Fired Over Frías Anti-Hagiography « NMM Business Continuity

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