Tens of thousands of people protested in Brazil last week after the brutal murder of socialist councillor Marielle Franco.
Franco was shot along with her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes on Wednesday of last week in an execution-style attack.
She was elected in a shock landslide victory in 2016 as a councillor for the PSOL (Socialism and Freedom) party. This is a left split from the Workers’ Party of former president Lula.
Franco was seen as a spokesperson for the poor, black people and LGBT+ causes.
The right wing government of President Temer recently sent thousands of troops into the favelas, or slums, of Rio de Janeiro to “restore order”. Franco was an outspoken opponent of that decision.
She denounced the police almost daily for killing young people and harassing residents.
“One more murder of a youth that can be put down to the PM [military police]. How many more will have to die before this war ends?” she tweeted the day before she died.
In another Tweet she wrote, “The 41st battalion of the military police is known as the battalion of death. Enough of trampling all over the population! Enough of killing our youth!”
In Rio state 154 people were killed “in opposition to police intervention” in January alone.
On the Sao Paulo protest last week one protester said, “Marielle spoke for us. She was not like the usual politicians.
“Again and again people say they will not forget the favelas, and then they become puffed up and remote. I don’t think Marielle was like this.”
Juliano Medeiros, the national president of PSOL, said, “It’s too early to be sure about the motives of Marielle Franco’s killers.
“Spreading terror among human rights activists? Obstructing the rise of a new leftist leadership against police violence in the communities of Rio?
“One element, however, seems unquestionable—racism and sexism are behind the crime. Marielle was a black, lesbian woman from the favela of Maré who dared to occupy a space reserved historically for wealthy white men.
“And this made her, in the sick head of her executioners, a ‘natural’ target.”
Most politicians have called for a full investigation. But Jair Bolsonaro, the far right politician who is running second in the polls for October’s general election, was silent.
His base is the police and armed forces, and his election platform is to demand ever-increasing state powers.
He openly backs the military dictatorship that ran Brazil from 1964 to 1985.
Another huge demonstration in memory of Marielle Franco was planned for Tuesday this week.
The bitter anger at the killing could link up with the rising feeling against the corruption and pro-rich polices of the Temer government.