Marielle's ordeal

Image: Claudia Barbosa
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By CARLOS TAUTZ*

In Rio there is a condensation of political forces that do not threaten the criminal order that dominates the State

Since March 14, 2018, each year a ritual has been repeated, with no end in sight. To the question “Who had Marielle killed?”, authorities and even personalities who were close to the former PSOL councilwoman turned a deaf ear to the reasons and names behind the double murder, which four years ago, on a Wednesday, killed Marielle and her driver Anderson Gomes.

In the middle of the central region of Rio de Janeiro, a few meters from the City Hall, the associated deaths of Marielle and Anderson were the political crime with the greatest impact in Brazil since the bomb that the military extreme right detonated on April 31, 1981 at Riocentro, in an attempt to prevent political openness during the business and military dictatorship at the time.

For the current state of Rio de Janeiro, the discovery of those who ordered the cold-blooded murder of Marielle acquires importance similar to that of the Riocentro attack – whose operators were almost immediately denounced even by the press. Because, now, Rio is institutionally threatened by the territorial control and the infiltration of the militias in the public machine; for the leniency and connivance of the public security system with these paramilitaries; by the mixture of connivance and complacency of the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) of the State; and the lack of prospects for this whole situation to change in the short and medium terms, given the political forces that intend to administer the state now and as of the October elections.

Thus, naming who gave the order for the murder, disbursing hundreds of thousands of reais to hire the assassin Ronnie Lessa would mean a decisive step towards the resumption of a minimum rule of law in Rio.

The fact is that the crime against Marielle and Anderson symbolizes the permanent Blitzkrieg of a criminal order over social life in Rio de Janeiro, which could reach President Jair Bolsonaro (who owns a house in the same condominium where Marielle's killer lived, a proximity that inexplicably the Institutional Security Office never discovered) and the Minister of Defense Braga Netto (listed for vice in Bolsonaro's re-election campaign), who commanded in a plenipotentiary way the financial and military intervention in Rio when Marielle and Anderson suffered cowardly.

Thus, for all these circumstances, discovering the whole scheme that led to the murder of Marielle and Anderson should be included in the opening of the program of every candidate for the state government. But, it doesn't.

 

From the Bolsonarist extreme right to the congressional left

In practice, what we see in Rio is a very high degree of condensation of various political forces – from the Bolsonarist extreme right to the congressional left –, which sometimes clash and often converge, but which never threaten the criminal order that dominates the State. around the militias, the police, and other types of powerful people who actually manage the territory of the State.

This is expressed, for example, in the inexplicable delay in investigating the murders of Marielle and Anderson. This is an investigation that, for the sake of democracy, should have been completed in a few days, but which, after so much delay, points in another direction. It indicates the probable involvement of people capable of controlling everything from the Homicide Police Station to the Guanabara Palace, seat of the Government, and passing through the MP, which has a constitutional obligation to carry out external control of the police.

A situation that, due to its characteristics, indicates the decisive participation of militias in the control of the investigation. This condition was already clear in the discovery that the appointed murderer was Ronnie Lessa, a retired sergeant from the Military Police Special Operations Battalion (Bope), who for decades was a professional assassin linked to the Jogo do Bicho, the infamous Crime Office, the militias in the West Zone of Rio, international arms smuggling and the Rio Civil Police itself.

Ronnie, inexplicably, had not even been the subject of a measly investigative procedure by the MP or the Police Internal Affairs until he was arrested in March 2019, two days before the murder completed a year without official explanations.

Another indication that criminals have differentiated access to the public machine is evidenced by the State government's true lack of commitment to the (false) priority given to investigation.

How reported the news portal G1, “according to information released this Friday (11) in RJ2, the Homicide Police Station of the Capital (DHC) took more than three years to forward to the Public Ministry about 1,3 files of photos and videos of the case, who completes four next March 14th”.

This absurd state of affairs is also verified in the leniency of the Public Ministry. In 2021, for example, prosecutors Simone Sibilio and Letícia Emile, then in charge of the case, resigned from their position, claiming “external interference”, but without clarifying what it was about.

(Sibilio, by the way, has just received an award from the US Department of State for women “who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in the defense of peace, justice, human rights, gender equity and equality, and women’s empowerment.” According to the Embassy from the USA, the promoter “will participate in a virtual exchange, the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), when you will have the opportunity to connect with American experts in your field)…

The lack of interest to which Marielle was relegated spills over even to the PSOL, the former councilor's party. When seeing the dead end in the investigations, the party does not try to reverse the situation with concrete measures, such as trying to open Parliamentary Commissions of Inquiry in the municipality and state of Rio and at the federal level, nor does it seek to raise international support for the investigations, as it could achieve if the Organization of American States took up the case.

 

With Freixo, with no prospect of a solution

The situation does not improve even when looking at the four-year term of office of the governor to be elected in October. Neither of the two main pre-candidates – federal deputy Marcelo Freixo (PSB) and the obscure, but very skillful governor Claudio Castro (from the PL, the same party as Bolsonaro) – place the resolution of the case as the central axis of a recovery strategy. of democracy. Not even Freixo – with whom Marielle was a friend, adviser and party partner.

First, because the parliamentarian seeks as a privileged audience for his campaign precisely the category of police officers, several of whom were involved due to leniency in the delay of investigations. Although he says that public safety is one of his priorities, Freixo has dealt with the area only by addressing issues such as the value (R$ 12) of the meal ticket for civil police officers.

Freixo's pre-campaign, however, already involves much more serious and insurmountable contradictions in terms of public safety – especially when it comes to Marielle. The main one was the pre-candidate Freixo inviting Raul Jungmann to join the writing team of his government program.

After all, Jungmann, as Minister of Defense and Public Security at the time, was part of the small group of advisers to former President Michel Temer who imagined and gave legal form to the financial and military intervention in Rio in 2018, under which Marielle was murdered. . In order to take the step of intervention, which in the end did nothing to improve the security situation in Rio, Jungmann already had information on Rio de Janeiro's criminality, passed on by the state security system.

So much so that, in November 2018, Jugmann admitted to the magazine Veja “to make sure that “powerful politicians”, public agents and militiamen are involved in the murder of councilwoman Marielle Franco”. Thus, he anticipated what the current Minister of Defense Braga Netto, a former interventionist in Rio, would admit two months later to the same publication: “I could have announced the solution of the Marielle case”, said Braga Netto, who, by virtue of his position , controlled all the information of the public security system in the State.

Moreover, Jungmann's own choice of Freixo already expresses a type of conception of public security that could hardly be described as democratic, and which in itself already shows itself - as it also did during the intervention - incapable of facing the profound and retrogression through which pass the institutions in Rio.

Jungmann, remember, is a former left-wing cadre who supported the 2016 coup, was Michel Temer's minister and is politically close to groups represented by reserve general Sergio Etchegoyen, who for more than 50 years have controlled military espionage in the country. Brazil (Sergio's father, Brigadier General Leo Guedes Etchegoyen, is one of the soldiers mentioned in the report by the National Truth Commission).

 

Claudio Castro: obscure, skillful and praiser of massacres

An even bigger problem is that the electoral alternative to Freixo is the current governor, Claudio Castro, likely candidate of the extreme right and Jair Bolsonaro for the governorship of Rio. Castro only took office because he was former governor Wilson Witzel’s deputy – the one who advocated “shooting bandits in the head” and who was impeached for corruption in 2019.

With no tradition in politics, Castro (since 2021 investigated by the Public Ministry for fraud in the purchase of basic food baskets) has been noted for the neoliberal conduct of the state and for the surprising way in which he has been building political support for his government, including with mayors of the Baixada Fluminense accused of leading militia groups. He forced the illegal privatization of CEDAE (the former state water and sanitation company) and bought various supports by promising to distribute part of the profits to the only PT city hall (Maricá) in the state.

In public safety, he did more of the same. It created a program that, like the Pacifying Police Units of its predecessors, only militarily occupies favelas and does not avoid confrontations that always produce victims among the populations. Regarding the most lethal massacre in Rio (in Favela do Jacarezinho, in May 2021, when 27 civilians and a police officer died), Castro repeated the arguments of the police officers leading the operation and openly supported the deaths.

In his government, the only new fact produced in the investigation of the Marielle and Anderson case was the choice of the fifth delegate to head the investigation.

 

“Fear is our best country project”

For those who have been following the case, with the distance that allows independence in the look, the crime – along with the pain of family and friends – and, later, the investigation became a stage for the display of empty slogans, which aim to demarcate territories and vote hunting strategies.

“Who killed Marielle?”, in addition to being the question honestly asked by many people, has become a demand that bothers less and less and is progressively being emptied of its political content in the midst of the accelerated dismantling of the very little democracy that the working class, black and favela resident lived in this state.

The sociologist José Claudio Souza Alves observed and summarized the case well. A professor at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro and a resident of Duque de Caxias, he is one of the most important scholars of the phenomenon of militias. In 1998, he defended the thesis at USP Baixada Fluminense: violence in the construction of power. According to him, “the Marielle case is a myth. It became a panacea in the midst of the political/electoral dispute. The left does not want a solution so as not to compromise and win votes for the right. The right does not want a conclusion not to be reached. The center couldn't care less, or rather, it dissolved to win somewhere on the spectrum. Marielle is a renegade, uncomfortable, embarrassing corpse. Best not to talk about her. Make a pedestal for the hero she was, build a mausoleum of silence over her murder. The country does not hold the truth. Its political groups live and feed on unanswered questions. Fear is our best project for the Country”.

*Carlos Tautz is a journalist and doctoral candidate in contemporary history at the Fluminense Federal University (UFF).

 

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