In the two years since suspected paramilitary hitmen gunned down Marielle Franco—a Brazilian queer Black feminist activist, politician, and single mother—authorities still have not identified the motive for her murder. As she was driving home after speaking at an event on Black women’s empowerment in Rio de Janeiro, her killers pulled up beside her vehicle and fired four shots into her head. They also killed her driver, Anderson Gomes. Authorities have dismissed links between Marielle’s suspected killers and President Jair Bolsonaro and his sons.
Franco, a city councillor in Rio, called attention to government neglect of poor neighborhoods, like the favela she hailed from, and fought for anti-racism, women’s reproductive rights, and LGBTQI+ rights. She was also an outspoken critic of police brutality, militarization, and parastate militias, such as the one linked to her killing.
Far-right president Jair Bolsonaro, elected months after her murder, represents the violently racist, misogynistic, and anti-poor interests that seek to silence social justice adovcates like Marielle. In 2018, the year Bolsonaro was elected, femicide and gender violence, racist abuse, and sexual assaults increased, according to a report from the Brazilian Public Security Forum. Militias of well-trained former police officers and soldiers have reportedly expanded in Rio, terrorizing the poor neighborhoods where they establish control. Below, a selection of recent NACLA articles further explore Marielle’s assassination and the issues she championed...
Continue reading below: