The cowardly murder of socialist councillor Marielle Franco on March 14 has all the hallmarks of a political assassination.
The protests that swept across Brazil on the night of March 15 were mobilised at short notice in outrage at what protesters viewed a political act. They were not merely a spontaneous outcry over Brazilians’ frustration with “one more gunfire death”, as some Western media companies tried to frame it.
Franco was assassinated by a trained shooter with a common Military Police weapon. Rio de Janeiro is currently under military occupation and Franco was its most prominent critic.
Franco was also a living example of everything the neo-fascist Brazilian military hates: a black, lesbian, feminist and socialist from a favela.
Brazil is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for leftist activists.
According to the Catholic Church’s Pastoral Land Commission, there have been 1833 political assassinations of land reform activists since the end of the military dictatorship in 1985.
Most of these were committed by agribusiness plantation and ranch owners involved in monoculture production and export of goods like beef and soy to the US and European markets.
Fernando Horta compiled the following list of Brazil’s latest 10 political assassinations:
* Marielle Franco, a feminist and Black rights activist and city councillor from the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL), was executed on March 15.
* Paulo Sergio Almeida Nascimento, a leader of the Association of Mestizos, Indigenous peoples and Quilombolas (descendants of slaves) of Amazonia (CAINQUIAMA), was shot in front of his house in Barcerena, Para state, in March 12.
* The body of George de Andrade Lima Rodrigues, a community leader in Recife, Pernambuco, was found with bullet holes and barbed wire wrapped around his neck on February 23.
* Carlos Antonio dos Santos, or Carlao as he was commonly known, was a leader of a sustainable land reform settlement in Paranatinga, Mato Grosso. He was shot dead by a man on a motorcycle in front of the Mayor’s Office on February 7.
* Police suspect that gang members executed Leandro Altenir Ribeiro Ribas, a community leader in Vila Sao Luis, a favela in Porto Alegre’s North side, on January 28, because he criticised their actions in the neighbourhood.
* Marcio Oliveira Matos, one of the youngest leaders of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) in Bahia state, was shot three times and killed in front of his son on January 24.
* MST leader Valdemir Resplandes was executed in the town of Anapu, Para, on January 9.
* The body of Jefferson Marcelo do Nascimento, a community leader in the Madureira neighbourhood in Rio, was found with signs of hanging on January 4, a day after he had gone missing.
* Clodoaldo do Santos was a leader of the SOS-Jobs social movement in Sergipe. Two men shot him in the head at his home on December 14.
* Jair Cleber dos Santos, a squatter’s camp leader in Para, was shot dead while in the company of four other landless rural workers on September 22.
* Fabio Gabriel Pacifico dos Santos, or Binho as he was known, was a leader of Pitanga dos Palmares, a Quilombolas community in Simoes Filho, Bahia. He was killed on September 18 in a targeted hit.
[Abridged from Brasil Wire.]