Marielle Franco

Last updated
Marielle Franco
Marielle Franco.jpg
Councillor of Rio de Janeiro
In office
1 January 2017 14 March 2018
Personal details
Marielle Francisco da Silva

(1979-07-27)27 July 1979 [1]
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [1]
Died14 March 2018(2018-03-14) (aged 38)
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cause of death Assassination (Gunshot)
Political party PSOL (2007–2018)
Domestic partnerMônica Benício
(2006–2018; Franco's death)
Alma mater Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
Fluminense Federal University
OccupationPolitician, sociologist

Marielle Franco (Portuguese pronunciation:  [maɾiˈɛli ˈfɾɐ̃ku] , born Marielle Francisco da Silva; 27 July 1979 [1] – 14 March 2018) was a Brazilian politician, feminist, and human rights activist. [2] After earning a master's degree in public administration from the Fluminense Federal University, she served as a city councillor of the Municipal Chamber of Rio de Janeiro for the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) from January 2017 until her death.

Brazil Federal republic in South America

Brazil, officially the Federative Republic of Brazil, is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers and with over 208 million people, Brazil is the world's fifth-largest country by area and the fifth most populous. Its capital is Brasília, and its most populated city is São Paulo. The federation is composed of the union of the 26 states, the Federal District, and the 5,570 municipalities. It is the largest country to have Portuguese as an official language and the only one in the Americas; it is also one of the most multicultural and ethnically diverse nations, due to over a century of mass immigration from around the world.

Human rights Inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled

Human rights are "the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled" Examples of rights and freedoms which are often thought of as human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and property, freedom of expression, pursuit of happiness and equality before the law; and social, cultural and economic rights, including the right to participate in science and culture, the right to work, and the right to education.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Fluminense Federal University university

The Fluminense Federal University is a public higher education institution located mainly in Niterói and in other cities of Rio de Janeiro state. It was first established on December 18, 1960, with the name of Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro (UFERJ), through an integration of different academic colleges in the city of Niterói. On November 5, 1965, the current name became official.


On 14 March 2018, while in a car after delivering a speech, Franco and her driver were shot multiple times [3] and killed by two [4] murderers in another vehicle, North in Rio de Janeiro [3] . Franco had been an outspoken critic of police brutality and extrajudicial killings, [5] as well as the February 2018 federal intervention by Brazilian president Michel Temer in the state of Rio de Janeiro which resulted in the deployment of the army in police operations. [6] [3] [4]

Police brutality crime

Police brutality is one of several forms of police misconduct which involves undue violence by police members. Widespread police brutality exists in many countries and territories, even those that prosecute it. Although illegal, it can be performed under the color of law.

An extrajudicial killing is the killing of a person by governmental authorities or individuals without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process. Extrajudicial punishments are mostly seen by humanity to be unethical, since they bypass the due process of the legal jurisdiction in which they occur. Extrajudicial killings often target leading political, trade union, dissident, religious, and social figures and are only those carried out by the state government or other state authorities like the armed forces or police, as extra-legal fulfillment of their prescribed role.

Michel Temer 37th President of Brazil

Michel Miguel Elias Temer Lulia is a Brazilian lawyer and politician who served as the 37th President of Brazil from 31 August 2016 to 31 December 2018. He took office after the impeachment and removal from office of his predecessor Dilma Rousseff. He had been Vice President since 2011 and Acting President since 12 May 2016, when Rousseff was suspended while she faced an impeachment trial. At the age of 75, he is the oldest person to have taken the office.

Early life

Franco was raised in Maré, a slum in northern Rio de Janeiro, where she also resided for most of her life, and started to work to contribute to the household income in 1990 when she was 11 years [1] old. [7] Marielle gave birth to her first and only child when she was 19 years old (in 1998). [1] [8] Franco raised her daughter without the father's help and worked as a pre-school teacher making minimum wage. [9] [10]

Maré, Rio de Janeiro Neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Maré is a neighborhood and favela in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is a grouping of several favelas, suburbs with houses, and housing complexes. With approximately 130,000 residents, it is one of the largest slum complexes in Rio de Janeiro, a consequence of the low indicators of social development that characterize the region.

Favela Shanty town or slum in Brazil

A favela, Brazilian Portuguese for slum, is a low-income historically informal urban area in Brazil. The first favela, now known as Providência in the center of Rio de Janeiro, appeared in the late 19th century, built by soldiers who had nowhere to live following the Canudos War. Some of the first settlements were called bairros africanos. Over the years, many former enslaved Africans moved in. Even before the first favela came into being, poor citizens were pushed away from the city and forced to live in the far suburbs. However, most modern favelas appeared in the 1970s due to rural exodus, when many people left rural areas of Brazil and moved to cities. Unable to find places to live, many people found themselves in favelas. Census data released in December 2011 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) showed that in 2010, about 6 percent of the Brazilian population lived in slums.


In 2000, she began her pre-university studies. [9] Following the death of a friend from a stray bullet in 2000, Franco began working in human rights activism. [1] [8]

Cursinho is a type of cram school, usually private, in many Brazilian cities, and attended by students trying to qualify for university admission through entrance exams (vestibular), or by people willing to take a public examination to work as a public servant. These last for three months, in general.

In 2002, she entered the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro on a scholarship and continued working and raising her daughter as she earned a degree in social sciences. [8] [10] She went on to earn a master's degree in public administration from the Fluminense Federal University. [11] She wrote her master's thesis (titled "UPP: The Reduction of the Favela to Three Letters") on the law enforcement program to retake control of the city's favelas from gangs. [12]

Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro university in Rio de Janeiro

The Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro is a Catholic pontifical university in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It is the joint responsibility of the Catholic Archdiocese of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro and the Society of Jesus. In 2016, PUC-Rio was ranked as the fifth best university in Latin America by Times Higher Education magazine.

Pacifying Police Unit law enforcement and social services program in Brazil

The Pacifying Police Unit, abbreviated UPP, is a law enforcement and social services program pioneered in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which aims to reclaim territories, most commonly favelas, controlled by gangs of drug dealers. The program was created and implemented by State Public Security Secretary José Mariano Beltrame, with the backing of Rio Governor Sérgio Cabral. The stated goal of Rio's government is to install 40 UPPs by 2014. By May 2013, 231 favelas had come under the UPP umbrella.

Political career

Marielle Franco in August 2016 Marielle Franco em agosto de 2016.jpg
Marielle Franco in August 2016

Beginning in 2007, Franco worked for state representative Marcelo Freixo as a consultant, and she coordinated the state legislature's Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship. [13] [12] She also worked for civil society organizations, including the Brazil Foundation and the Maré Center for Solidarity Studies and Action. [14]

Marcelo Freixo Brazilian politician

Marcelo Ribeiro Freixo is a Brazilian politician, broadcaster and professor. He is in the second year of his third term as state representative for the Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL), and is the current chairman of the Defence of Human Rights and Citizenship Comission on the Rio de Janeiro Legislative Assembly.

In 2016, Franco ran for a seat on the Rio de Janeiro city council in the municipal elections. [15] As a black woman and single mother from the favelas, Franco positioned herself as a representative and defender of poor black women and people from the favelas. [16] With over 46,500 votes, Franco was one of 51 people elected, receiving the fifth highest vote total out of more than 1,500 candidates. [15] [17]

As a city council member, Franco fought against gender violence, for reproductive rights, and for the rights of favela residents. [8] She chaired the Women's Defense Commission and formed part of a four-person committee that monitored the federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro. [18] [19] Working with the Rio de Janeiro Lesbian Front, Franco presented a bill to create a day of lesbian visibility in Rio de Janeiro in August 2017, but the bill was defeated by a vote of 19-17. [20]

Final days and assassination

Demonstration held in Vitoria to honor the memory of Marielle Franco and Anderson Pedro Gomes. Marielle Vitoria.png
Demonstration held in Vitória to honor the memory of Marielle Franco and Anderson Pedro Gomes.

On 13 March 2018, Franco spoke out on Twitter against the police violence in Rio de Janeiro: “Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?” [21] (Portuguese : Mais um homicídio de um jovem que pode estar entrando para a conta da PM. Matheus Melo estava saindo da igreja. Quantos mais vão precisar morrer para que essa guerra acabe? [22] )

The next day, Franco attended a round-table discussion titled "Young Black Women Moving [Power] Structures" (Portuguese : Jovens Negras Movendo Estruturas). [23] Less than two hours after leaving the round-table, she and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were fatally shot by two men who were driving another car. The men fired nine shots at them, four of which struck Franco – three in the head and one in the neck. [24] Franco's press officer was next to her in the back seat and survived with injuries. [21] [24] [25]

Marcelo Freixo, a Rio de Janeiro legislative assembly member from PSOL who came to the scene shortly after hearing of her killing, determined that the bullets had been directed at her in a clear execution. According to the Rio de Janeiro police, the direction of the nine shots supports the hypothesis that Franco was assassinated. [24] The bullets that killed Franco are from a batch bought by the federal police in Brasília in 2006; [26] [27] Minister of Public Security Raul Jungmann later said that they were stolen from a post office storage facility in Paraíba, [28] but the ministry subsequently retracted this explanation after the Post Office publicly denied it. [29]

In January 2019, police arrested Ronald Paulo Alves Pereira and issued a warrant for Adriano Magalhães da Nóbrega, both suspects in Franco's assassination. Each suspect received honors from president Jair Bolsonaro's son Flávio Bolsonaro in the early 2000s. [30] In March 2019, police arrested two suspects, former members of the military police force, for the murder. [31]

Reactions to assassination

Thousands took to the streets in coordinated protests across Brazil, and both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned her killing. [21] [32]

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose husband David Miranda was a fellow City Council member and close personal friend of Franco's, [33] [34] listed what he referred to as the "most important subjects to cover" regarding Franco's assassination stating:

Her relentless and brave activism against the most lawless police battalions, her opposition to military intervention, and, most threateningly of all, her growing power as a black, gay woman from the favela seeking not to join Brazil’s power structure, but to subvert it. [35]


A digital art workshop was held in Nairobi, Kenya titled "Portraits of Marielle: Creating Bridges between Kenya and Brazil" with young Kenyan artists participating, and the artworks were displayed at the Museum Mare in Rio de Janeiro on 10 November 2018. [36]

Amnesty International included Franco's name in its campaign for those who wrote for human rights and lost their lives, [37] while an update was made and an online tribute listed Franco among over 400 human rights advocates for women by the Association for Women's Rights in Development. [38]

Personal life

Franco identified as bisexual. [39] [40] In 2017, she moved to the Rio de Janeiro neighbourhood of Tijuca with her partner, Mônica Tereza Benício, and her 18-year-old daughter, Luyara Santos. [41] [35] Marielle and Mônica had met at a trip with friends when they were 18 and 24 years old, respectively. They had been dating for 13 years, although the relationship had often been interrupted due to the non-acceptance of their families and friends. In these times, Mônica had relationships with other women and men and Marielle with other men. [40] Franco and Benício had been planning to marry in September 2019. [42]

See also

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Marco Aurélio Canônico (15 March 2018). "Da Maré, vereadora fazia parte do 'bonde de intelectuais da favela'" (in Portuguese). Folha de S.Paulo. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 16 March 2018. Marielle Francisco da Silva nasceu em 27 de julho de 1979, no Complexo da Maré, zona norte do Rio. … Começou a trabalhar aos 11 anos, para pagar sua escola, foi educadora numa creche na Maré e aluna da primeira turma de pré-vestibular comunitário do complexo, aos 19 anos, em 1998. … Hoje, a menina com nome de deusa indígena tem 19 anos e é caloura de educação física na Uerj.
  2. Michelle Ruize (15 March 2018). "Brazilian Activist Marielle Franco, Who Protested Police Violence, Has Been Assassinated". Vogue. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  3. 1 2 3 "Outrage over murder of Rio councillor". BBC News. 2018-03-15. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-03-15. She and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were both killed, and her press officer, who was sitting in the back seat of the car, was injured. … She was shot four times in the head, and three bullets hit Mr Gomes. … Ms Franco, who grew up in Mare, a favela complex in the north of the city, has been an outspoken critic of the move to deploy the army and the federal police force.
  4. 1 2 Langlois, Jill (2018-03-15). "Outspoken Rio councilwoman who fought for the marginalized is shot to death; thousands mourn". Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-03-16. Police said two men fired nine shots into Franco's car and sped off. Franco's driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, was also killed. A press officer sitting next to Franco in the back seat was injured. … Her party also pointed to her vocal disapproval of a particular military police unit, which she called the "battalion of death." … "Marielle had just denounced the military police's brutal and truculent operation in the Iraja region of the Acari community," the Socialism and Liberty Party said in a statement. "We demand an immediate and rigorous investigation of this heinous crime. We will not keep quiet!"
  5. "Brazil: Authorities must investigate the killing of human rights defender Marielle Franco". Amnesty International. 15 March 2018. Archived from the original on 8 April 2018. Retrieved 17 March 2018. known for denouncing police abuses and extrajudicial executions
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  7. "Anger in Brazil after prominent police critic is shot dead - France 24". France 24. 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-15. Franco, who was raised and lived in the Mare complex of slums, long one of Rio's more dangerous areas, received over 46,500 votes in the 2016 election. That total was only bested by four of 51 council members.
  8. 1 2 3 4 Júlia Dias Carneiro (16 March 2018). "Mulher, negra, favelada, Marielle Franco foi de 'cria da Maré' a símbolo de novas lutas políticas no Rio" (in Portuguese). BBC. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 16 March 2018. Marielle nasceu e cresceu no Complexo da Maré, e saiu do curso de pré-vestibular comunitário para a graduação em ciências sociais na PUC-Rio, universidade particular onde ela e outra colega eram as únicas mulheres negras do departamento. … Aos 19 anos, se tornou mãe de uma menina, Luyara.
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  10. 1 2 Anna Jean Kaiser (30 September 2016). "A Favela-Born Political Up-and-Comer in Brazil". Ozy. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 2018-03-17. Franco got pregnant at 18; her child’s father wasn’t around after the first few years. She took a job as a preschool teacher earning a minimum wage — about $200 a month — to support herself and her child.
  11. "Da Maré, Marielle Franco chega à Câmara como a quinta mais votada" (in Portuguese). O Globo. 4 October 2016. Retrieved 15 March 2017.
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  14. Nour El-Youssef (22 September 2016). "Favela Candidates Run for Office, Among 'City Council Members We Want' [VIDEO]". Rio On Watch. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2018-03-20. She has worked for various civil society organizations, including the Brazil Foundation and CEASM (Maré Center for Solidarity Studies and Action). Currently, she is the coordinator of the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship in the Rio de Janeiro State Legislative Assembly (Alerj).
  15. 1 2 Brad Brooks (15 March 2018). "Thousands march in Brazil after murder of activist councilwoman". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
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  21. 1 2 3 Phillips, Dom (2018-03-15). "Protests held across Brazil after Rio councillor shot dead". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2018-03-15. One of Franco’s final posts on Twitter called attention to police violence. “Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?” she wrote.
  22. Franco, Marielle (2018-03-13). "Marielle Franco @mariellefranco" (in Portuguese). Twitter. Archived from the original on 2018-05-01. Retrieved 2018-05-01. Mais um homicídio de um jovem que pode estar entrando para a conta da PM. Matheus Melo estava saindo da igreja. Quantos mais vão precisar morrer para que essa guerra acabe?
  23. Gragnani, Juliana (15 March 2018). "Marielle era uma das 32 mulheres negras entre 811 vereadores eleitos em capitais brasileiras". BBC. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
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  40. 1 2 Dias Carneiro, Júlia (30 March 2018). "Rejeição da família, pedido de casamento e luto: a história de amor interrompida de Marielle e Monica". (in Portuguese). Rio de Janeiro: BBC. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  41. "Marielle, 'cria' do Parque Esperança" (in Portuguese). O Dia. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  42. "Viúva de Marielle conta que vereadora estava despreocupada dias antes do assassinato" (in Portuguese). O Estado de S. Paulo. 18 March 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-23.