Liga Socialista, Brazil
ON THE evening of March 14, Marielle Franco (38), a city councillor from the Maré favela in Rio de Janeiro, was shot dead in her car in the street. Her driver died with her in a hail of bullets. Her secretary survived but was seriously injured. Marielle was a member of the left-wing Party for Socialism and Freedom, PSOL, an LGBT activist and one of the few black women to hold political office in Brazil.
The nature of the attack on Marielle points to an execution ordered by the police. In the following days, for the first time since the favela occupations by the military, huge demonstrations and solidarity rallies took place in Rio with the crowds chanting “Marielle Presente” – “Marielle lives on amongst us”.
Marielle had alienated the police through her campaigning against their acts of violence, murders and arbitrary arrests, against poor, mostly black, victims. She had criticised Rio’s notorious 41st police battalion, known as the “death battalion”, for “terrorising and abusing” residents of the Acari favela, where two men were killed and thrown into a drainage ditch on 5 March.
Her appearance before the “Truth Commission”, and her unmasking of police murders there, was probably considered an outrageous provocation.
Since the imposition of military law in Rio by billionaire President Michel Temer at the end of February, and the occupation of the large favelas (shantytowns) by heavily armed military forces, a veritable war has been waged against the black lower classes of Rio. Temer himself only holds office thanks to a parliamentary-judicial coup, which removed the Workers’ Party president, Dilma Roussef.
A statement issued by PSOL women expresses the grief, anger and indignation of millions:
“Today our hopes are shaken a little. A black woman, a mother, a defender of equality, born and raised in Maré, has been taken from us. Today, we will not dwell on the brutality of the event but rather honour the struggles that she undertook in her lifetime. Immediately we want know the facts. We want the truth! To her family and that of the driver who accompanied her, we express our deepest sympathy and solidarity. To all the women fighters who are today inconsolable, let us turn our sorrow and indignation into continuing her struggle.”
The members of the Liga Socialista, Brazilian supporters of the League for the Fifth International add their voices to this declaration:
- They will not silence us!
- We demand an immediate end to the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro!
- We demand the investigation of the murder of Marielle and other murders in the favelas, by tribunals elected by trade unionists and representatives from the favelas!
- Down with the coup-mongers! Down with Temer!