Are we ready to face it? Marielle’s execution and its perverse consequences

Protest Against the Murder of Marielle Franco. Rio de Janerio, 15 March 2018. Source: Paulo Barros, Favela em Foco. All Rights Reserved.

 On March 14, 2018, Rio de Janeiro’s councilwoman Marielle
Franco and her driver
Anderson Pedro Gomes were murdered in her car after leaving an event on black
women’s empowerment. Franco’s press secretary, who was in the
backseat with her, survived

was the only black woman on Rio de Janeiro’s 51-member city council, and she was
the fifth most voted councillor in the 2016 election. She was a rising black,
LGBTQ, and feminist leader that inspired many and represented the possibility
of minorities accessing power and occupying political spaces in Brazil.

and raised in Maré, one of Rio’s largest favelas, Franco was a fierce advocate
for the people of Rio’s favelas, a human rights defender, and had been critical
with President Michel Temer’s federal intervention in the city that put the army
in control of public security.

murder caused outrage in Brazil and tens of thousands of Brazilians mobilized
to demand justice and remember her and her trajectory. She has been mentioned
in millions of tweets in the aftermath of her death, frequently using the
hashtags #MariellePresente
(Marielle is here) and #SayHerName. Conservative, racist and machista actors have sought to discredit
Franco and her legacy, spreading false information about her on social media
(e.g. accusing her of having been elected with support from criminal gangs or
of being the partner of an important criminal group leader).

The police is investigating her murder. Many observers understandably suspect Franco was
killed for speaking out against police and military abuses, but we do not
currently know the motivations or who was actually responsible.

Maiakovski (1893-1930), a soviet poet from the Russian Vanguard, wrote a poem
in Russian that was loosely translated into Portuguese by the Brazilian poet
Haroldo de Campos. Translating translations in a treacherous business, but more
or less it goes like this:

Shine forever.

Shine like a

Shine the
eternal flame.

People were
made to shine.

should go to hell, it does not matter.

This is my

And the sun’s.

Today we complete
threes weeks without Marielle and Anderson. Three weeks since the terror took
over and completely changed the life of the one that survived the brutal
extrajudicial killing. And three weeks since the terror spread like a feast
inciter that took over every activist in Rio and beyond, spread fear and – as
terror usually does – contributed to fray the social fabric that barely kept
activists’ capacity to resist in a very hostile environment. We are
unquestionably before what Manuel Castells named a new social morphology.
Flexible, fluid, and ready to seize opportunities connecting grassroots groups
and the establishment. But sometimes, before great tragedies, we freeze.  

'Shine forever / Shine like a lighthouse / Shine the eternal flame'.

During these three
weeks without Marielle and Anderson, the verses from Maiakovski gained one more
meaning. ‘Shine forever / Shine like a lighthouse / Shine the eternal flame'. This
is now Marielle’s slogan. Not just the poet’s and the sun’s.

Mary Kadolr, in
her 2005 book "Global Civil Society", mentions civic transnational networks leaded by activists, NGOs
and social movements. They ideally would be responsible from a “détente from
below” (2005, pp. 95). Are we able to reawaken them? Are we giving them enough
conditions to hold the front?

It is time to
put our beliefs to the test. As philanthropists, are we ready to put our money
where our language, our strategy and our heart is?

Kaldor (2005,
pp. 97) predicts the danger of new national fundamentalist movements. “The
new nationalist and religious movements tend to represent themselves as a
reactions against modernity, against the new normal. Indeed the new normal, the
new nationalism, and the religious backlash could and should be understand as a
threatened against democracy and open society”

The questions
here are: Are we ready to face it? Are we ready to follow the light that
Marielle will always represent, showing us the way?

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