RIO DE JANEIRO – The murder of Rio de Janeiro city councilor Marielle Franco was an “attack on Brazilian democracy,” activists said Tuesday, demanding that authorities accelerate their investigation of the crime.
“We’re waiting for justice to be done because the murder was an attack on Brazilian democracy,” said Renata Souza, who was the chief of staff for Franco, who was with the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL).
The 38-year-old Franco, who has come to symbolize minorities in Brazil because she was a black female lesbian from the poverty-stricken Mare “favela,” or shantytown, was shot to death in her car by an unknown gunman as she was being driven along a downtown Rio street on March 14.
She had denounced police brutality and extra-judicial killings and was a staunch critic of military interventions in Rio’s slums, and her death shocked Brazilians, tens of thousands of whom took to the streets at the time to demand justice during emotional, nationwide tributes.
Human rights activists and politicians on Tuesday participated in another tribute to Franco headed by Argentina’s 1980 Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, at the Museu da Mare, Rio’s first favela museum.
“The response to whoever ordered Marielle killed ... is for all of society” because her death ended “our hope for a better world,” said Souza, adding that the Brazilian government can find out who committed the murder but it is important to “exert pressure so that the case is cleared up and so that it doesn’t get forgotten, as regularly occurs with others.”
“Other Marielles out there who were asleep woke up with her murder and today they’re thinking that it’s possible to gain access to other spaces outside the favelas,” Souza said.
At the tribute event, Perez Esquivel emphasized the need for “unity” to “fight against impunity.”
Rio television station RJTV reported in mid-March, citing forensic experts, that the bullets used to kill Franco came from ammunition sold to Brazil’s Federal Police in 2006.