Marielle Franco

Image: ColeraAlegria


The society that Marielle wanted for her men and women erupts into history

“To this day, the history of all society is the history of class struggles” (Karl Marx, Communist Party Manifesto).

Marielle Franco was murdered in Rio de Janeiro on March 14, 2018. For five years now, the black movement and its activists, leftist groups, the Franco family and everyone who truly wants a democratic and free society wants to know who they were the bosses of the cowardly and barbaric extermination of a black, lesbian, socialist, left-wing councilor (PSol) woman and educated in the hills of Rio de Janeiro.

If we need to be careful in certain texts and writing – this is not the case here. Because insofar as the perpetrators of the crime were two military police officers (who were circumstantially retired), it is more than evident that their principals are agents of the State: in one way or another, directly or indirectly, either influencing or organically. We still don't know who they are.

There is a passage in the book Ten days that shook the world, by John Reed, the most notable narrative of the Russian Revolution of 1917 yet written, in which we witness the following scene – “the poor in the asylums were almost naked. Delegations of invalids, starving, orphans, with sunken and livid faces, stormed the [Public Assistance] building. [Aleksandra] Kolontai, with tears in her eyes, was forced to order the arrest [...] [of the bureaucrats] to force them to hand over the keys to the rooms and safes”.[1]

In the “rooms” and in the “vaults” were many of the secrets of the tsarist-bourgeois state, and the Russian ruling class did everything to keep them that way, without the people being aware of their selfish and self-interested moves that the overwhelming majority launched. of the population in the deepest misery. It is evident that we are far from an event like that of 1917; and we don't want the people who ordered Marielle's murder to remain hidden in the halls and vaults of our State and the public institutions that constitute it.

When Marielle was murdered, Brazil was going through one of the moments of what can be called its “counterrevolution”. In 2008 the world faced one of the biggest crises of the international capitalist system. The outbreak of subprime accompanied by the fall of Lehamnn Brothers in the United States had a ripple effect throughout the international economy. When the crisis hit the material life of male and female workers, several counter-hegemonic movements demonstrated the possibilities (and the need) to build another society: Occupy Wall Street, Arab Spring, Syriza, Indignados and Podemos took to the streets in their respective societies, leaving a trail of fire and hope in the hearts and minds of those who want a humanity freed from the yoke of capital.

To the extent that the responses to the breakdown of world finance were not up to the expectations of those most affected, there was a process of rapid erosion of most of the movements that presented themselves as an alternative political option. The new social democracies, in the terms of Susan Watkins,[2] entangled by the government techniques of liberal-representative democracies – those that were already going through moments of contestation for not fulfilling their promises (Norberto Bobbio) – compromised not only themselves as actors and social subjects of the supposed desired transformation, democracy itself would lose what confidence remained.

Over the years, it was no longer seen as the only and exclusive political regime. Given the juxtaposition to this scenario of the Troika (European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)), that is to say, from the reorganization of international decision-making institutions on the European continent, the intentional and “planned” emptying of what was left of democracy would have devastating effects. (In the United States, Barack Obama, who ruled to recover the financial system, stroke black celebrities and capture and/or kill Osama Bin Laden.)

The dialectical-immanent combination of these circumstances would result in the rise of what we call today the new right. Trump, Erdogan, Salvini, Johnson, Orban, Duterte and Bolsonaro appeared on the immediate political horizon. They were the steel glove of the new political regime and the accumulation of neoliberalism; which Veronica Gago calls accumulation by extraction[3] – extreme violence against those who work, absolute financialization of everyday forms of life, devastation of nature and the economy-efficient psyche. The necessary social relations also required racism, machismo, murderous homophobia, xenophobia and the fascistization of life.

The combined inequality of the class struggle made this historical reference framework arrive in Brazil in June 2013. Demonstrations covered the entire country and an insurrectional uprising, perhaps, never witnessed here. June 2013 is undoubtedly the main event of recent decades in Brazilian society: it expressed the reality of a radical transformation in Brazil. What followed, in a sense, was what followed in Europe and the United States – a pre-emptive counterrevolution.

The right-wing forces reestablished themselves in the crack that opened up; the comprehensive assessment of 2013 has yet to be done by the left, its intellectuals, male and female critical researchers. The phases of the Brazilian counterrevolution can be schematically established as follows: 2014 (destabilization of the election due to PSDB's challenge to Dilma Rousseff's PT victory); 2015 (intensification of right-wing mobilizations demanding the overthrow of Dilma organized by MBL, Vem pra Rua, Revoltados On-Line, supported by ideological private apparatuses – Millenium, Liberal and Von Mises Institutes and the entire corporate press and financed by interested economic groups) ; 2016 (coup against the president-elect in 2014, appearance of Jair Bolsonaro announcing the “return” katecontica of Ustra and his replacement by Michel Temer); 2017 (the economic program bridge-to-the-future that repositioned Brazilian capitalism in the “new” regime of neoliberal accumulation that we mentioned above); 2018 (the occupation of Rio de Janeiro, via GLO-Guarantee of the Law of Order, by the military under the command of Braga Neto).

It is in this context and/or conjuncture that Marielle Franco was murdered by command and cruelty by Ronnie Lessa and Elcio Vieira de Queiroz – the former had been a competent and effective member, according to Rodrigo Rodrigues Pimentel, of the elite forces BOPE-Batalhão de Valores Especiais da military police of Rio de Janeiro and the second former sergeant, also, of the Rio de Janeiro military police. The details of the crime against Marielle are one of the most sordid and nefarious – typical of the Brazilian dominant white elite since the days of the colony in which they practiced real hunting, imprisonment and endless punishments against black bodies who fled in search of freedom and contested that slave order. from then. But now with all the technique and technology available.

According to reports Marielle was watched for more than two months by Lessa and Queiroz, her routine studied with precision, the places she frequented as a militant for her people, the moments of greatest opportunity and facilitation to carry out the cowardly ambush; weapons are now no longer the whip on the scourge, the log and the pitchfork on the throat – but high-caliber, high-impact pistols; the pursuit no longer on horseback but with state-of-the-art vehicles and the effective organization of the “rational” extermination – according to investigations Ronnie Lessa and Elcio Queiroz stalked Marielle during the night of the crime like the white assassins that they are – prepared for the day of 14 March 2018.

The mistake was believing that making Marielle disappear would make her historical and political struggle disappear. It is the ever-present arrogance and snobbery of those at the top. They forget that this is not the first time that figures who authentically fight for those from below – activists, militants, intellectuals, politicians, revolutionaries and revolutionaries – have had their lives taken away by the forces of the current order. It was like this with the Quilombola leaders; with the resistants of Canudos; in the Paris Commune; in Frantz Fanon's Algeria, in Spain in 1936, with Rosa Luxemburg, with the outstanding personalities of the Black Panthers – and it was like that with Marielle Franco.

And since then, new movements have flourished, new individuals to speak for those who have nothing but the sweat of their brows, new radical and fearless figures, new groups and collectives of those who resist the hardships of the bourgeois mode of production. On March 14, 2023, it will be five years since the murder of our Marielle; we will not go down until the crooks, who had her killed so that she would not be an obstacle to their material interests, are revealed – until then, and until the society that Marielle wanted for her men and women erupts in history, itself it will be the incandescent allegory in the tireless search for the end of exploitation, oppression and violence against subordinates and subalterns and which removed it from among us.

*Ronaldo Tadeu de Souza is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Political Science at USP.


[1] See John Reed. The ten days that shook the world. Ed. Circle of the Book, 1978, p. 258.

[2] See Susan Watkins. New Oppositions. New Left Review, no. 98, 2016.

[3] See Veronica Gago. For a Critique of Capital Extractive Operations. New Society, nº 255, 2015, pp. 38-52.

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