Marielle Franco

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Marielle Franco
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 deathAssassination (Gunshot)
Political partyPSOL (2007-2018)
Domestic partnerMônica Benício
(2006–2018; Franco's death)
Alma materPontifical 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.

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]

Early life[edit]

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]


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]

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]

Political career[edit]

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]

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[edit]

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 "Black Youngsters 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]

Reactions to assassination[edit]

Thousands took to the streets in coordinated protests across Brazil, and both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned her killing.[21][30]

Journalist Glenn Greenwald, whose husband David Miranda was a fellow City Council member and close personal friend of Franco's,[31][32] 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.[33]


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.[34]

Amnesty International included Franco's name in its campaign for those who wrote for human rights and lost their lives,[35] 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.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Franco identified as bisexual.[37][38] 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.[39][33] 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.[38] Franco and Benício had been planning to marry in September 2019.[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f 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. ^ a b c "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. ^ a b 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
  6. ^ Lessing, Benjamin (2 March 2018). "Brazil's federal intervention in Rio's drug wars has an authoritarian feel — and could backfire". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-04-08. Retrieved 18 March 2018. Brazilian President Michel Temer, at a Feb. 16 late-night meeting with his Cabinet and top congressional leaders, decided the federal government would take over Rio’s police and prison system.
  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. ^ a b c d 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.
  9. ^ a b "Entrevistamos Marielle Franco: mulher, negra, periférica e Vereadora do RJ - Mulheres na Política #1". Redação Subjetiva. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  10. ^ a b 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.
  12. ^ a b Marie Declercq translated by Meredith Balkus (15 March 2018). "Marielle Franco, Activist Against Brazil's Police Brutality, Assassinated in Rio". Vice. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  13. ^ Julianne Gouvela (23 November 2016). "Entrevista: Marielle Franco" (in Portuguese). Agência de Notícias das Favelas. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  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. ^ a b Brad Brooks (15 March 2018). "Thousands march in Brazil after murder of activist councilwoman". Reuters. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  16. ^ Maria Morganti Pinheiro (26 June 2017). "Mãe, preta, favelada e vereadora: Marielle Franco" (in Portuguese). Voz das Comunidades. Retrieved 2018-03-20.
  17. ^ Glenn Greenwald (16 March 2018). "Marielle Franco: Why my friend was a repository of hope and a voice for Brazil's voiceless, before her devastating assassination". The Independent. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  18. ^ "Negra da Maré e socióloga, Marielle foi a 5ª vereadora mais votada do Rio" (in Portuguese). G1. 15 March 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  19. ^ Felipe Betim (16 March 2018). "Assassinato político de Marielle Franco reativa as ruas e desafia intervenção no Rio". El País. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  20. ^ Camila Marins (18 August 2017). "Câmara do Rio de Janeiro rejeita projeto pela visibilidade lésbica". Brasil de Fato. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  21. ^ a b c 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.
  24. ^ a b c Roberta Jansen, Marcio Dolzan e Fabio Grellet (15 March 2018). "Direção dos tiros contra Marielle reforça hipótese de ataque premeditado". Estadão. Retrieved 2018-03-18.
  25. ^ Associated Press (2018-03-15). "Marielle Franco, councillor and police critic, shot dead in targeted killing in Rio". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  26. ^ Phillips, Dom (17 March 2018). "Marielle Franco: Brazil's favelas mourn the death of a champion". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  27. ^ Canofre, Fernanda (16 March 2018). "Suspicious Murder of Anti-Police Brutality Activist Sparks Large Protests In Brazil". Mint Press News. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  28. ^ Lise Alves (17 March 2018). "Ammunition Which Killed Marielle Franco in Rio Stolen from Police". The Rio Times. Retrieved 2018-03-23.
  29. ^ Adorno, s (Mar 19, 2018). "Ministério muda versão de Jungmann sobre roubo de munição usada em assassinato de Marielle". Cotidiano (in Portuguese). Retrieved Mar 21, 2018.
  30. ^ "Atos de protesto por Marielle Franco estão marcados em mais de 10 capitais". Justificando (in Portuguese). 2018-03-15. Retrieved 2018-03-15.
  31. ^ "Big rallies after Rio politician shot dead, Newshour". BBC. 1970-01-01. Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  32. ^ Bernstein, Fred A. (2018-05-11). "The Unflinching Courage of Rio's Gay Crusader". Out Magazine. Retrieved 2018-07-28.
  33. ^ a b Glenn Greenwald (19 March 2018). "Just as U.S. Media Does With MLK, Brazil's Media Is Trying to Whitewash and Exploit Marielle Franco's Political Radicalism". The Intercept. Retrieved 2018-03-19.
  34. ^ Villalobos, Chloe (2018-11-22). "Building Bridges Between Favelas in Kenya and Brazil Through 'Artivism'". RioOnWatch. Archived from the original on 2018-11-23. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  35. ^ "Amnesty International launches world's biggest human rights campaign". Amnesty International. 2018-11-29. Archived from the original on 2018-11-29. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  36. ^ Ford, Liz (2018-11-29). "Women's rights take centre stage as murdered activists are remembered". the Guardian. Archived from the original on 2018-12-01. Retrieved 2018-12-01.
  37. ^ Lígia Mesquita (15 March 2018). "Os últimos momentos de Marielle Franco antes de ser morta com quatro tiros na cabeça". Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  38. ^ a b 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.
  39. ^ "Marielle, 'cria' do Parque Esperança" (in Portuguese). O Dia. 16 March 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  40. ^ "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.

External links[edit]