Mothers in Struggle

Liubov Popova, Space Force Building, 1920


Commentary on the newly released book

“In the peripheral neighborhood there is no law, there is no justice. And it is through these seven stories that each mother lets out her pain and searches for the justice of change”, says the back cover of the book. Mothers in Struggle, written by seven women whose children were murdered by the state.

Mothers in Struggle is the result of the development of a clinical-political group device of writing constituted by a creative dimension, by a dimension of artisanal experimentation, with the production of embroidery and individual and collective texts and, finally, by a dimension of care for the word of the another, with the expression of pain and support from the group.

The group of nine professionals, who are alongside the mothers on this journey, also underlines that: “The wait for the publication of this book as a body generated by many hands was compared, by one of the mothers, to the period of pregnancy: careful preparation, anticipation of what is to come, joy and vital hope. To the murderous, systemic and brutal death brought by the violent and racist State, life responds in its multiple forms and languages, reconfiguring resistances, re(existences)”.


“The investigation of crimes and punishment of those responsible does not exist”

The sentence above, by Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, recognized spokesman for the fight for human rights, is complemented by his statement for the book cover: “This book, Mothers in Struggle, brings together several testimonies of mothers who lost their children and should serve to break the silence and inaction of governments in the face of these crimes. They are burning testimonies, full of memories of the lives of their children, which all defenders of life and human dignity in this country have an obligation to read and disseminate”.

Damazio Gomes da Silva and Valdênia Aparecida Paulino Lanfranchi, defender of human rights, state in the preface that: “In the narratives of each mother we can relive together with them the moments of pain when learning about the news of the deaths, the search for In fact, the paths followed in search of evidence that demonstrate the excessive violence on the part of the police. (…) They fight to assert that in Brazil there is no death penalty and that everyone has the right to receive a fair trial”.


They were young and, like all young people, they dreamed

Memories of dreams, plans, hopes with what the future had in store for them, make up the keynote of this first part. Guilherme dreamed of cars; Kaique was a good student; Douglas wanted to study business; Josias was very easy to learn; Peterson was full of life, he loved to have fun; Victor wanted to be a fireman; Luan was the best student in the class.


We embrace each other in mourning and we embrace each other in the fight

“How long are we going to see young black people die like this? How long will they kill us? It is a lot of hypocrisy to say that the law is made for everyone and in the name of everyone, when in fact it is made by some and is not applied fairly to everyone”, protests Miriam Damasceno da Silva, in one of the added reports. of part two of the work.

To you who killed my son it's the title of part three. There are two reports. One of doubt: the reason for shooting Douglas in the back of the head is still unknown. The other is astonished to see the video of his son, on the floor with his hands up, being executed with three shots.

“Why didn't you give my son the opportunity to pay for his mistake? Why didn't you do the job right? Why did you decide to be the delegate, the prosecutor, the judge, the jury and decide to give my son the death sentence? How do you manage to fire three shots at a person all curled up on the floor? Crouched on the ground and already with your hand raised in the air, surrendering: you executed Victor with three shots.” (Solange de Oliveira Antonio)


What justice is this?

Composed of letters to government officials, to those who believe that justice is done by giving power to kill State agents, to a judge, this fourth part reinforces the wide connivance with the recurrent executions of young black men in Brazil.

In the letter to the Brazilian authorities, starting with the president of the republic, the mothers recall lines by João Dória and Jair Bolsonaro encouraging the arbitrary and tyrannical exercise of police force: “The lethality produced by police violence is authorized by many rulers. Governor João Doria of São Paulo, when he took office on January 2019, 2018, clearly stated that the police 'had to shoot to kill'. President Jair Bolsonaro, in 10, declared: '[The policeman] comes in, solves the problem and, if he kills 15, 20 or 10, with 30 or XNUMX shots each, he has to be decorated, not prosecuted'”.


Where does the word live today?

Described in part five, the writing workshops, held every Sunday for nine months, took care of carrying out a project nurtured for years by the Movimento Mães em Luto da Zona Leste: “a project that carried the desire to make public stories whose lives are silenced by the massacre of black youths in Brazil, with an important dimension of transmission to future generations”.

*Cesar Locatelli is a journalist and holds a master's degree in economics from PUC-SP.



Gilvania Reis Gonçalves, Maria Medina Costa Ribeiro, Miriam Damasceno da Silva, Rossana Martins de Souza Rodrigues, Sidineia Santos Souza, Solange de Oliveira Antonio, Tatiana Lima Silva. Mothers in Struggle. São Paulo, publisher Fábrica de canons, 2022, 144 pages.


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