Brazil: Neither forgive nor forget — In memory of the struggle of Marielle and Anderson!


First published at Revista Movimento.

The death of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes was, without a doubt, the most important political assassination in the recent history of the country. A barbaric crime that expressed the innumerable Brazilian contradictions, killing one of the emerging leaders who confronted the militias and organized crime. Marielle represented the political rise of black people, women, the LGBTQIA+ community, and the people of the favelas and quebradas. Not by chance, Marielle’s slogan – which referred to the Ubuntu philosophy – “I am because we are” reappeared in the Colombian electoral campaign, years later, through the voice of Francia Márquez, also a leader of the black territories and the popular bases that reached the government after the rebellion that changed Colombia’s history.

A councilwoman from our party, Marielle inspired dozens of black women who were elected following in her footsteps, expanding the presence of the Party of Socialism and Freedom (PSOL) and of blackness in legislative chambers and in society as a whole. After five years, without the crime being elucidated until now, we fight against forgetfulness because the memory of Marielle is a tribute to future generations.

The Bolsonaro government was an obstacle to the investigations

In recent years, while justice was expected, the investigations have suffered a series of setbacks. Despite the identification of hitmen Ronnie Lessa and Élcio de Queiroz as the perpetrators of the crime, investigative agencies never got to the principals and motivations behind the murder. Many times, news circulated of mismatched leads and even suspicions that false witnesses were planted to hinder the investigation.

The relations of the executioners with militiamen close to the Bolsonaro family highlight the difficulties in getting to the principals. Ronnie Lessa was a neighbor of Jair and Carlos Bolsonaro in a condominium in Barra da Tijuca, where records were found of the executors’ presence just before the assassination. Adriano da Nóbrega – whose mother and wife worked as ghost assistants in Bolsonaro’s family offices and who was pointed out as the head of the “Escritório do Crime” militia, of which Lessa and Queiroz were members – was murdered in Bahia in an episode that has still not been clarified.

A cloud of suspicion hangs over the investigations. Besides relations with militiamen, Bolsonarists like Daniel Silveira and Rodrigo Amorim took pictures of themselves destroying a plaque in honor of the former councilwoman. The Bolsonarist internet networks, in turn, spread defamation and lies about Marielle and the reasons for the crime. The far right carried out a real ideological campaign and slander to combat the legacy of Marielle, who truly represents the antithesis of Bolsonarism, and therefore the fight for her memory and for justice was part of the popular victory that removed Bolsonaro from the presidency.

Justice cannot wait!

The new government begins with the unfinished task of getting to the people behind the crime and the reasons for it. Flávio Dino responded to the huge popular sentiment demanding justice by appointing a Federal Police superintendent in Rio de Janeiro familiar with the investigation and forwarding the opening of a Federal Police investigation to follow up on the investigations. Now is the time to make this struggle concrete by demanding further steps, including greater transparency from the investigators and even the federalization of the investigations if there is not a rapid reorientation of the work in Rio de Janeiro.

The conviction of those responsible may open a new cycle, signaling the fight against impunity that marks the New Republic. Therefore, this is a strategic struggle for the country, which is related to the fight against the far right and the militias, and even for reparations to the victims of the pandemic, a target of Bolsonarism.

Marielle lives, Marielle will live

A concrete and quick result of the investigations will do justice to the figure of Marielle Franco, whose legacy has become a reference for the mass movement. Honoring her life and her struggle is a duty, as Mangueira did, in its 2019 champion theme song, when it chanted: “Brazil, the time has come to listen to the Marias, Mahins, Marielles, Malês.”

These are our references to rewrite the history of the country and not the landowners who get rich by exploiting slave labor, as in the recent case in the mountains of Rio Grande do Sul, or the genocidal people of the previous government, who got rich with smuggled multi-million jewels. Brazil belongs to all the people, with the face of Marielle and Anderson.

For our part, we will seek to contribute to these efforts, participating in activities to remember their memory and demand justice. The audience with Minister Dino and the effort to put this demand as central to the agenda is part of this policy. We will have hundreds of small rallies, walks, solemn sessions, and poster pastings to remember Marielle throughout Brazil today.

Marielle Franco, present! In the struggle we will always meet!

Israel Dutra is PSOL secretary general, sociologist and member of the national leadership of Socialist Left Movement (MES). Thiago Aguiar is a doctor in sociology (USP).