Marielle Franco Presente!

Marielle Franco is present in our struggle for equality and democracy. She is a voice for the poor, for women, for the LGBT community, and people of color. She is with us in spirit and struggle.

Last Wednesday armed men gunned down Marielle and her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes in downtown Rio de Janeiro after their attendance at an event organized to promote black women’s empowerment. Her murder is a political assassination.

Marielle was elected to the Rio de Janeiro city council eighteen months ago and was a member of the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). Marielle was raised and lived most of her life in the favela of Maré located between the international airport and downtown. She earned her undergraduate degree at PUC-Rio and a Masters degree from the Universidade Federal Fluminense in Public Administration.

Marielle openly opposed police brutality and extrajudicial killings. She denounced President Temer’s decision to deploy the Army to occupy the city of Rio de Janeiro and other communities in the state. Her resistance to oppression, her resilient and courageous denunciations of policy brutality, and her opposition to the use of force to resolve the poverty and despair of Rio’s poorest communities inspires all of us, but threatens those bent on destruction and violence. 

According to The Guardian, there were 61,600 homicides in Brazil during 2016 and police forces were responsible for 4,200 of these murders. The high levels of violence continued into 2017 and remain a threat to public security everywhere, but particularly among poor and black communities in Brazil.

The Washington Post draws from research from the Instituto Igarapé to report,

“Underpaid and under pressure, police here are also under threat: At least 120 officers were killed in 2017, including many in confrontations with drug traffickers, according to the Rio-based Igarapé Institute. But last year, 1,124 people died at the hands of police, the highest number in a decade, the institute reports. In recent years, nearly 80 percent of those killed by police were black or mixed-race.”

According to friend and founder of the Intercept, Glenn Greenwald,

“Days before her assassination, she went to Acari, a sprawling Rio slum, to protest recent murders by one of the city’s most notoriously violent and lawless police battalions. What makes it difficult to determine exactly who killed Franco was precisely her bravery: she was a threat to so many violent, corrupt, and powerful factions that the list of possible suspects, with motives to want her dead, is a long one.”

According to the Washington Post,

“Her killers have not been caught. But the federal prosecutor’s office in Rio says that the evidence, including the highly professional killing, points to a hit by corrupt police officers. The bullets, authorities say, came from police ammunition stocks. A representative for the civil police would not comment beyond saying the investigation is ongoing.”

We join the Latin American Studies Association (LASA) to call for justice.

“The Latin American Studies Association (LASA) calls upon the Brazilian government to guarantee a swift, fair, and thorough investigation into the killing of Marielle Franco taking into account her political position as Afro-descendant city councillor, feminist and human rights defender, and urges the Brazilian judiciary to make sure both the material perpetrators of this crime as well as those who masterminded it will be held accountable. In addition, LASA calls upon the federal government and Rio City Council to take seriously the concerns expressed by Marielle Franco before she died in regard to the militarized response to crime in the favelas and to reconsider its strategy to provide security for the entire population of Rio.”

Please consider signing the AVAZZ petition,

Quem matou Marielle Franco?

Marielle Presente!

Mark S. Langevin, Ph.D.

Director of the Brazil Initiative