Protests around the country claim for justice after a young Rio de Janeiro City councillor was shot dead on March 14. Security cameras revealed that two cars were used in the assassination of Marielle Franco, 38, and her driver Anderson Gomes, 39. A third passenger, Marielle’s assistant, wasn’t targeted. She is now is the main witness.
The Federal Minister for Public Safety, Raul Jungman, declared in a press conference yesterday that all the security forces in Brazil are working together to solve the crime. “I want to declare that we have here, working together, the civil police, the military police along with the federal police, the ABIN (Brazilian Intelligence Agency), the Federal Secretary of Public Safety and the intelligence departments of the Army, Navy and Air Force”.
One of the reasons for such a big task force is because Rio is under a military intervention, signed by President Michel Temer, since 20th of February due to “serious breach of public safety”. Temer is under scrutiny for his ability to control one of the most violent states in Brazil. Data from August last year shows that the capital city also called Rio de Janeiro has a murder rate 10 times greater than London, with only half the number of investigators. Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world with less than 10% of violent deaths resulting in conviction, according to the Political Scientist, Ilona Szabó de Carvalho in an article to Folha de São Paulo this week.
Franco, a human rights activist and sociologist, was in her first term as a councillor after receiving more than 46k votes. She was also a strong advocate for the LGBTI and black communities in Rio. But her focus of late was against police brutality. She tweeted a day before her death “Another homicide of a young man may be coming into the Military Police account. Matheus Melo was leaving the church. How many more have to die for this war to end?”. The war Franco was referring to is the scaring tactics and suppression of rights of the marginalised population of Rio. It continues to intensify with military interventions, first on Dilma’s Presidency and now under Temer’s rule.
The speculations around who pulled the trigger fall under illegal militias that operate in Rio with a connection to drug cartels and other areas of organised crime. In 2008, an investigation by the legislative assembly of Rio State got more than one thousand people arrested, including parliamentarians. Crime scene specialists affirm that the nine shots against Marielle’s car, four of those which hit her head, were part of a professional job. In the Baixada Fluminense, one of the poorest areas in Rio, 11 politicians and community leaders were killed between 2015 and 2016 by the hands of organised crime.
A member of the small left party PSOL (Socialism and Liberty), she was the only black woman in Rio’s council chamber that counts on 51 members. Franco was considered one of the few good representatives of the new generation of Brazilian politics and has become a martyr due to her fight against the poorly planned and executed Brazilian public safety policies. Amongst her interests as a parliamentarian was the extinction of military police, a gendarmery created under the latest military dictatorship (1964-85) to repress political dissidents.
Photos of protests and tributes to Marielle this week in the cities of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba e Florianópolis by Midia Ninja.