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The Internationalist
  March 2018

Marielle Franco (Rio de Janeiro, 27 dJuly 1979 - 14 March 2018).  (Photo: Mario Vasconcellos/CMRJ)


For Workers Mobilization Against Military-Police Occupation!
Drive the Military Police and Army Out of the Favelas!

MARCH 16 – The murder of Marielle Franco, a city councilwoman in Rio de Janeiro, on Wednesday, March 14, was a state crime. It was a summary execution by professionals: she was gunned down by at least four shots to the head while sitting in the back seat of car with tinted windows. In addition to the councilwoman, the driver of the vehicle, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also shot and died. The reason for the attack is utterly clear: it was a reprisal for Marielle’s denunciation of the racist repression that for many years has been carried out by the multiple police and military forces in Rio, particularly in favelas (slums) like the Maré district where she grew up. Now, as the rapporteur of a commission named by the city council to monitor the intervention of the army in Rio,1) she became a priority target to be eliminated by the “forces of order.”

Around the world, Marielle’s execution has been met with protests and demonstrations expressing grief for the loss of this fighter, a comrade fallen on the field of battle. But now is the time not just for rendering homage. This must be the spark to set off a struggle to massively mobilize the power of the working class to expel the UPPs (Police Pacification Units), the PM (Military Police) and the army from the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, and to defeat the army/police occupation of the city.

The intellectual authors of this double murder passed down the execution order to their modern-day slave catchers (capitães do mato) days before that fateful March 14. The latter, for their part, eagerly awaited the go-ahead order from their masters with their fingers on the trigger. Significantly, the execution took place a few days after March 8, International Women’s Day, a date that despite all the propaganda about the “Maria da Penha Law,”2) has not prevented Brazil from having a prominent place in the number of women murdered.

Marielle Franco (Rio de Janeiro, 27 July 1979 – 14 March 2018) was 38 years old, oriented her activity to the defense of blacks and the poor and systematically denounced violence against this population. A critic of the intervention in Rio by the federal Security Forces, the black councilwoman (the only one among the 51 members of the city council), had in recent days censured the action of the Military Police in the Acari neighborhood. Marielle was a sociologist, a feminist, Brazilian politician and human rights activist. Receiving the fifth-highest number of votes in the 2016 elections for city council, elected on the PSOL ticket3), she was one of the few fresh faces in Rio’s politics.

“It all ends on Wednesday,” says the samba by Tom Jobim, the most famous song in the soundtrack of the Brazilian play, Orfeu da Conceição and the film Black Orpheus.4) Yes, the blood of the courageous fighter for social causes was shed on Wednesday, March 14, in the heart of Rio, very close to the Marquês de Sapucaí Sambadrome stadium which in the last Carnaval reverberated with sambas that severely criticized the governments of that would-be Bonaparte, interim Brazilian president Michel Temer, the governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Luiz Fernando Pezão, and Rio mayor Marcello Crivela.

The chronology of the murder: February 28, City Councilwoman Marielle Franco (PSOL-Rio de Janeiro) is named rapporteur of the commission to monitor the military intervention in Rio. March 10, Marielle denounces police violence in Acari. March 14, Marielle is gunned down.

The caricature by the renowned cartoonist Carlos Latuff, published on March 15, reported in a simple and precise manner the chronology of the murder of Marielle. Her communications adviser, who was in the car and was hit by shrapnel, recounted: “The murder occurred when the victim was returning from an event called Young Black Women Moving Structures.”

Another great “coincidence” is the fact that the day before the murder, the councilwoman had denounced police violence in Rio on social networks. In one of the posts, Marielle wrote: “You can chalk up the homicide of another young man on the Military Police account. Matheus Melo was coming out of a church. How many more are going to have to die for this war to end?” And four days before her death, she wrote, again on social networks:

“What is happening now in Acari5) is absurd! And it has been happening forever! The 41st PM battalion is known as the Death Battalion. ENOUGH of smearing the population! ENOUGH of killing our youth!”

And again:

“We need to scream so everyone knows what’s going on in Acari right now. The 41st Battalion of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police is terrorizing and raping residents of Acari. This week two young men were killed and thrown into a ditch. These days the police walk the streets threatening the residents. It has always happened and with the [military] intervention it has become even worse’.”

The Emblematic and Daily Slaughter of the Black Population

From Haiti to the Mothers of Acari, from Cláudia Ferreira who was dragged behind a police camburão6) to the Maré favela, killing black people has been the policy of the capitalist state in Rio and around the country.

Ana Paula Oliveira, the courageous mother of Johnatha de Oliveira, who was murdered in May 2014 by police of the UPP in the Manguinhos favela. The numbers show that almost all the victims of the military police were men, that four out of five were black, and the three-quarters were youth.

As rapporteur of the City Council commission to investigate the military intervention, Marielle Franco, a black woman from Rio de Janeiro and child of the Maré favela, knew very well that, whether under the military dictatorship or in the “Democratic State of Law,” the reality of the state in the daily life of the favela population is always the same. The “secret” of the capitalist dictatorship of the Brazilian bourgeoisie and its enormous enrichment is due to paying one of the lowest minimum wages around the world, enforced by racist repression. This was a product of slavery, as we can see in a section of LQB’s founding documents (which criticizes the PCO, which at the time of the rupture did not “want to blacken Causa Operária (Workers Cause),” a clear case of “left” racism).7)

Marielle fell into a pool of blood into which other black women have also fallen. For example, the newspaper Extra (16 March 2016) reported that “exactly two years after the death of Claudia Silva Ferreira, dragged by a PM vehicle for 300 meters on the Intendente Magalhães Highway in the North Zone of Rio, the six policemen accused of the crime were released and were not even put on trial. “

So too, after more than a quarter of a century, those responsible for the Acari massacre were not punished. Take the case of Mrs. Tereza de Souza Costa, 65, the mother of one of the victims:

“It has been 25 years without news of her son, Edson de Souza Costa, who disappeared at the age of 17, after leaving home for a walk with ten friends at a site in Suruí, in Magé, in the Baixada Fluminense [just outside the city of Rio de Janeiro]. Tereza is one of seven women who became known as Mother Courages of Acari. Four of them died without knowing the whereabouts of their children.
“On 26 July 1990, according to investigations of the time, the youths were abducted by men who identified themselves as police officers. Since then, nothing has come to light. Due to lack of evidence, the investigation was closed in 2010 without anyone being indicted for the crime that became known as the Slaughter of Acari, although no body was found. “
—From the article by Daniel Marenco, O Globo, 3 July 2016

As you see, in Brazil, particularly in the “Marvelous City” of Rio de Janeiro, whether under the governments of the right or the left, state policy, like that of the Zionists in Israel, has been to establish a kind of Gaza Strip and kill blacks and poor people as a form of containment and discipline of this social sector. Marielle Franco was “a daughter of the Maré favela”, she experienced and condemned the presence of the Armed Forces in the Maré who were sent by former President Dilma Rousseff under the pretext of “guaranteeing law and order.” In reality, they were only sent as support troops to guarantee the transfer of billions to the capitalists in the spending spree for the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Olympics. Meanwhile, the militarized popular front government in Rio, led by former governor Sérgio Cabral, while sending Military Police to invade the Maracanã Village – an indigenous temple, sacred to this population – also had the Maré cordoned off by steel plates, thus converting it into a South African “bantustan” from the time of apartheid, only this time, made in Rio.

Protest in the Maré favela against military occupation, 1 May 2014. (Below) The motion approved in April 2014 by the state network of the Rio teachers union, SEPE, introduced by the Class Struggle Committe, called to:
– Mobilize the working class and its power, in particular the unions, in defense against police attacks!
– Form workers defense committees based on the unions to protect protests and the favelas!
– Tear down the walls of steel around the Maré!
– Drive out the pro-imperialist occupation troops from Haiti, the favelas and social movements.
See “No to the World Cup of Repression!” (The Internationalist No. 37, May-June 2014)

Equally emblematic were the movements of “Where Is Amarildo?” (the mason from the Rocinha favela who was “disappeared” while in the hands of the Military Police during the “Hot Winter” of the convulsive year of 2013; and the movement “Free Rafael Braga.”8) These movements of protest grew quite large at that time, as the denunciation of the slaughter of blacks in Rio’s favelas and moros (hills) grew in prominence. At the time, the slogans of the Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil and the Comitê de Luta Classista (LQB/CLC) were widely seen, read and discussed: “Drive Brazilian troops out of the favelas of Rio and Haiti! Build union-based self-defense groups in the neighborhoods! Police of all kinds are not part of the working class, they are the armed fist of the bourgeoisie.”

It should also be noted that Rio’s favelas have been a vast training ground for Brazilian troops that, shortly after taking office in his first term in government, former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sent to Haiti to lead a neo-colonial occupation replacing U.S. troops.

Army Out of Rio, Military Police Out of the Favelas!

Going down the list of racist police killings that have shaken the world, Marielle’s case, as painful as it has been, is unfortunately like adding an extra stripe on a tiger’s skin. Marielle lived and grew up hemmed in by fences of steel plates, she experienced the presence of the armed forces in the Maré favela, she condemned the UPPs. This sociologist who graduated from Pontifical Catholic University of Rio and held a master’s degree in public administration from the Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), titled her dissertation “UPP: The Favela Reduced to Three Letters.”

Parliamentary deputy Marcelo Freixo of the PSOL in the Complexo do Alemão favela during the military occupation calls for military police posts (UPPs).
(Photo: Wilton Junior/Agência Estado)

Marielle was indeed right. The UPP “pacifying police posts” were machines for killing black and poor people, with the 41st Battalion, extending from Irajá to Acari, being only one of the offices to set up and prepare these murderous racist machines. However, it should be noted that her party comrade, Marcelo Freixo, who was the PSOL’s candidate for mayor of Rio, at the time of the occupation of the Complexo do Alemão by the military, supported the UPPs and called to establish more!

Without denying the particular murderous capacity of the Brazilian repressive organs, it should also be noted that similar slaughters have been carried out around Latin America under the domination of Yankee imperialism: witness the case of the 43 disappeared from Ayotzinapa in Mexico, or the genocidal repression against the indigenous peoples of Guatemala.

In the protests, demonstrators chant: “It’s not over, it has to stop. I want the end of the military police.” The reality is, in spite of all her valor, neither Marielle nor anyone else can advance their emancipatory ideals in a social-democratic party like PSOL, PT, PCdoB or any other similar parties that do no more than adapt to the bourgeois order. While these reformists support the “strikes” of the police, like the Morenoites of the PSTU and the CST (PSOL) led by the former Alderman Babá, we of the LQB and CLC fight for (and put into practice, in the “Steel City” of Volta Redonda, in 1996): Police of all types, out of the unions!.

We repeat: Army out of Rio, military police out of the favelas! Fight for a workers and peasants government that overthrows the capitalist dictatorship, expropriating the entire bourgeoisie and dissolving its racist repressive bodies as it begins the international socialist revolution that will liberate all the oppressed. ■

NYC Protest Against Racist Execution in Rio de Janeiro

Internationalist contingent in the New York protest, March 16.  (Internationalist photo)

Shortly after 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, Marielle Franco, a city councilwoman of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was gunned down in her car by a team of assassins. The day before, she had denounced the police murder of a black man, asking: “How many more will have to die for this war to stop?”

Last month, Brazilian president Michel Temer ordered the army to take over the policing of Rio, supposedly to clamp down on violence in the impoverished favela neighborhoods. (Temer assumed office as the result of the impeachment in August 2016 of the elected president, Dilma Rousseff, by the deeply corrupt Brazilian Congress.) This militarization of the police has produced growing opposition. Marielle, the only black woman in the city council, was named to a council committee to conduct oversight of the army takeover. Last week Marielle denounced the 41st Battalion of the Military Police as a death squad killing black youth. Her murder in downtown Rio was the reprisal of these professional executioners.

On Friday, March 16, demonstrations protesting this racist murder were held around the world. In New York City’s Union Square over 200 people came out on less than 24 hours’ notice. The Internationalist Group, Trabajadores Internacionales Clasistas (Class Struggle International Workers) and the Revolutionary Internationalist Youth brought a contingent. Their signs proclaimed, in Portuguese and English, “Workers Revolution Will Avenge Marielle Franco,” charged the army with responsibility for the execution, and called to “Defeat Military/Police Occupation of Rio with Workers Power!” Specifically they demanded, “Military Out of Rio, UPPs (military police posts) Out of the Favelas.”

An Internationalist spokesman spoke to the crowd emphasizing the need for workers mobilization against the military takeover but also against the attacks on the working class by the government that has legalized slavery and gutted hard-won union gains. He stressed the need for a revolutionary struggle against imperialism, which is behind the war on the poor and working people in Brazil and throughout the continent. The Liga Quarta-Internacionalista do Brasil, section of the League for Fourth International, has repeatedly called for union action against the Brazilian army’s mercenary occupation of Haiti on behalf of Washington, where it tries out “counterinsurgency” tactics that the paramlitary police then use in the Rio favelas and poor neighborhoods on the outskirts of São Paulo and other major cities.

In New York and around the world crowds cried out “Marielle Franco, presente!” But that is not enough, we must act to put an end to this plague. Police murder more than 1,000 people every year in Rio de Janeiro alone, overwhelmingly black and poor people. In the United States, police kill over 1,100 civilians a year. The racist killer cops are used to carrying out their criminal assassinations with impunity.

The cold-blooded execution of Marielle has set off an uproar. So did the infamous the police “disappearance” of 43 teachers college students in Ayotzinapa, Mexico. But it will take nothing less than workers revolution to put an end to the murder of poor and black people by this racist capitalist system, from Brazil to the imperialist heartland of the U.S. That will be the homage that Marielle deserves.  ■

  1. 1. On February 16, Brazilian president Michel Temer ordered the Brazilian Army to take over policing in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
  2. 2. A 2001 Brazilian law increasing the severity of punishment for domestic violence. It was named after Maria da Penha, a women’s rights activist whose husband twice tried to kill her, leaving her a paraplegic. Despite going to the courts and twice obtaining convictions, after 17 years of prosecution and appeals, her husband was jailed for barely a year. 
  3. 3. Party of Socialism and Liberty, a social-democratic split-off from the PT (Workers Party) after the latter took the reins of the federal government in 2002.
  4. 4. The song laments that the glorious activity of the Carnaval, the passion of building illusions and constructing dreams, all comes to an end on Wednesday when reality sets in.
  5. 5. In July 1990, eleven youths were kidnapped by police, who robbed and then killed them. The mothers of the disappeared youths, known as the Mães de Acari, joined together to demand justice, only to have one of their number assassinated in 1993.
  6. 6. The ominous black vans of the military police.
  7. 7. The PCO (Workers Cause Party) is a Brazilian leftist party that was formerly part of the international grouping led by Jorge Altamira and his Argentine Partido Obrero (Workers Party).
  8. 8. Rafael is a poor black young man who was arrested in June 2013 at the time of the protests against fare hikes that convulsed Rio, São Paulo and other Brazilian cities. Even though he had nothing to do with the protests, he has been subjected to relentless persecution and prosecution by the police on trumped-up charges ever since.