The recent murder of councilwoman Marielle Franco has sparked outrage in Brazil. While it is publicly believed that she was assassinated, investigations into her death are ongoing. Thousands of people poured into the streets following her death, mourning and protesting. Her death comes in the aftermath of Michel Temer (Brazil’s president) increasing military powers in Rio’s favela to address gang violence.
There is a sea of articles on her death. But I would like to focus on Marielle’s life. She was an extraordinary human being who deserves to be remembered for everything she stood for.
- Marielle grew up in the Maré complex in Rio’s favela. It is a notoriously violent and poverty-stricken area.
- Marielle completed university as a single mother before she began speaking out against human rights issues in her country.
- In a shock to the political system (inherently racist against afro-Brazilians, not to mention sexist and religiously dominated) Marielle was voted in as the fifth-most voted for candidate in the 2016 election for Rio’s city council.
- Marielle was a symbol of hope for minority groups in her efforts to defend the inadequate treatment of the disadvantaged.
Marielle was sparking positive change. She shook the foundations of her government and suffered at the hands of someone who made the decision to remove her voice from the crowd. Her 19 year old daughter, Luyara Santos, was quoted saying “They killed not only my mother but also her 46,000 voters”.
Let’s focus on the fact that 46,000 individuals voted for someone who was:
- a woman seeking more government-funded day cares to allow women to work
- a part of the LGBTI+ community
- from disadvantage and was strongly against the Pacifying Police Units
- a single mother, etc.
Her voters supported positive change for minority groups. They voted for a new opinion. A new position. A new approach. A new opportunity. Whilst her life was tragically taken from her, Marielle is proof that one individual can rise through the ranks despite all odds and one individual can inspire thousands to think differently, align themselves differently and want a different outcome to that of their current norm.
I like to think that out of those 46,000 voters more and more voices will rise up. The numbers will swell in support of the things Marielle stood for and the pressure for change will force the conversation of corruption and political decay onto the international stage.
I hope this horrible and violent event pushes those people sitting on the edge in the direction of positive social change, equality and unification against a corrupt government and political system.
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