Over spring break, two important killings occurred in Rio de Janeiro. One, the death of Matheus Melo, 23, a poor black man whose death received moderate coverage. His death is one of many for the city and many caused from police brutality. However, his death was taken note by councilwoman Marielle Franco, who in the past month was placed in charge of monitoring the current military intervention. President Michel Temer signed a decree giving the military power to restore order in Rio de Janeiro State. This action is notable because it’s the first time a Brazilian leader has used a constitutional provision to grant the military primary responsibility for providing security to a state since the 1980s. Franco, one of seven women on the 51 seat council and the only black female representative, was elected to the City council in 2016 breaking barriers in Brazilian culture. She was a human rights activist and outspoken advocate against police brutality.
Councilwoman Marielle Franco, 36
On the eve of her killing, Franco had suggested that the death of Matheus Melo was in fact caused by police brutality, and in turn the State’s fault. Leaving a meeting about empowering black women after 9pm, councilwoman Marielle Franco, 38, and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were spayed in her car with bullets and killed. Her death, has received much coverage in Brazil and globally as a clear execution of the part of the state.
Brazil is portrayed in this article from a state-crisis and as less of a democracy. It is important to note that Rio de Janeiro State does not represent all of Brazil but does represent a large and populated part. President Temer is using his constitutional power to maintain military power over the cities which reinforces police brutality and violence. Additionally, the State comes into question with the involvement in Franco’s death, especially since she has been wildly popular and one that was outspoken against some of the State’s actions.
Protest in Rio de Janeiro, March 15
In class we have learned about the Vargas dictatorship and the ways military intervention has been used. Additionally, during this course period the election of Temer was followed and frequently discussed. Brazil in history has been a country of many forms of government and different styles of leadership, something foreign to America. This article is important and hopefully something we follow throughout the rest of our course, with the hopes that this brings attention and change to the State and justice to those killed in police brutality as well as Franco’s family.