Note from BW of Brazil: In our ongoing coverage of the murder of Rio-based city council member Marielle Franco, some very intriguing opinions have surfaced in discussions of the motives of why she may have been assassinated. So far, we have video of the night she was murdered, the car(s) that tailed her, a simulation of how it went down, retrieval of bullets and the origin of the bullets. But still many questions remain as to the who and why. We already know that politics is a dirty, dangerous business in a place like Brazil, where human life, especially if it is packaged in black skin, has very little value.
The rise and vocal demands of the Afro-Brazilian population in recent years have seen black people placing themselves in areas of Brazilian society that many Brazilians aren’t accustomed to seeing them. Some people point to a belief that Brazil needs to go back to the “old days” or a certain order in which black Brazilians knew “their place” and accepted it. These aspirations are represented in calls for a return to a brutal military dictatorship that lasted for 21 years (1964-1985) and extremists politicians that represent this guard, such as Jair Bolsonaro. Below, Orlando Zaccone, a member of an anti-fascist police group weighs in what he thinks are factors in Franco’s murder as well as elements that may have wanted to eliminate her.
“The drug trafficker does not operate the way Marielle was executed,” says police chief
By Maria Emilia Alencar
Orlando Zaccone, a police officer from Rio de Janeiro, is a member of a group of civilian and Military Police officers, self-proclaimed “Antifascism Police”, which proposes the debate of a new security policy, with the guarantee of human rights as a priority. For him, the death of Marielle Franco has a strong political connotation.
The police chief is participating in the International Social Forum, in Salvador (BA), and spoke exclusively to RFI Brasil.
RFI: Do you think it was an execution?
Orlando Zaccone: From the first information, the way the shots were fired, how the action occurred, the probability is immense of having been an execution. This opens a field for political debate, where we have data that Brazil is one of the countries where human rights activists are at risk and where there are more homicide figures in the sector. In Marielle’s case, we would still have a specific aspect. She was not a human rights defender in the cabinet. She was a person, a black woman, from the favela (slum) of Maré, and she put all her militancy, even as a parliamentarian, into the communities. We had heard from Rio de Janeiro for at least two years that there were constant threats to groups of young people who campaigned for human rights within the favelas. The execution of the councilor Marielle presents a political framework where the escalation of the political dispute in Brazil passes through the idea that we must extend the constitutional order and suspend human rights to guarantee governability. This is something that has been constructed at least since the 1990s, through the discourse that human rights disrupt public safety. This associates human rights defenders with enemies. It is quite probable that this execution will have motivation in the activities developed by councilwoman Marielle in the fight for human rights.
RFI: Marielle was part of a commission and had already shown a very critical position regarding the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro. Was her murder related to this position?
OZ: This statement cannot be made at this time. What can be said and constructed politically is that, along with the arrival of military intervention, there is a discourse that points to the restriction of rights in the communities. This comes with the movement that the military is doing, so that the suspension of rights and guarantees within communities, such as the issue of the collective search warrant, the issue of the law of slaughter, a person suspected of carrying a weapon may be lethally injured in a police action. Then we have, at the arrival of the intervention, a reinforcement of the discourse that we have to restrict individual rights and guarantees for the maintenance of a certain order. In this context, those who oppose this construction, come to be in the other political field.
RFI: When you speak of “those who oppose”, we can refer to whom? Trafficking cartels, military groups, paramilitaries, extremist forces?
OZ: The idea that is constructed against those who oppose it are that they are criminals – traffickers, militiamen – and then you throw in the same package those who defend human rights policies. That is, you throw in, alongside traffickers and militiamen, human rights defenders. Then you construct the latter as enemies. From the moment you locate anti-intervention interests in criminal groups, whether they are drug traffickers or militia, and as soon as you have human rights defenders against the way the intervention is being constructed, it is very easy for you to construct that human rights defenders stand alongside criminals.
RFI: We are seeing extremist forces in favor of the candidacy of Jair Bolsonaro, that are extremely virulent against democratic norms and against defenders of minorities. Could what happened be an exacerbation of the action of these extremists, who are gaining ground?
OZ: Yes, their work is for many years, with the elaboration that we have, on the one hand, human rights defenders, and, on the other hand, order, security. Since the 1990s, since the 1990s, the defense of human rights has been an obstacle to public security, to order. That is, it is constructed, in the social environment, that human rights disrupt public safety. And the discourse, therefore, extremist, that wants to suspend the constitutional order to establish a certain order, gains momentum. This clearly contributes to groups targeting actions like these, which in Brazil are not isolated cases, since we are one of the countries with the highest rates of violence against human rights defenders. This is very serious. Marielle was not in the cabinet, she was not from an NGO, but a parliamentarian who went to the communities talked to the poor, who are the target of these suspension policies. She, on account of this, of her origin, of her condition as woman, black, happens to be a potential target.
RFI: So you think that this crime was against Marielle defender of human rights or it is also against Marielle, woman and black, who bothers (these elements)?
OZ: Yes, that’s just one context. This separation must not exist, since the defense of human rights contemplates the question of gender, of race. She had the experience of the favela, knew how the police operated in that environment, brought the denunciations of people who were there. It was not just a discourse in favor of human rights. It was a discourse that pointed out how these human rights are constantly being violated within favelas. That’s why she became a target. Although we have not yet concluded the investigations, everything points out that there is a political motivation behind this execution. And I’ll say one more thing: I hope I’m mistaken.
RFI: Could there be any involvement in drug trafficking?
OZ: To be honest, drug traffic does not work the way the mechanics of Marielle’s execution took place. The car pulled up, stared into the interior of the vehicle, and concentrated all the shots on Marielle. Traffic operates in another way. They were going to kidnap the car, take it inside a community, they were going to make microwaves [in the police jargon: put a victim inside a tire and set ablaze]. There is no concrete information to justify the possibility of having been practiced without political motivation. Everything points to retaliatory action. But, I repeat, I hope from the bottom of my heart that I am wrong.