Pamela Lang (Agência Fiocruz de Notícias)
Marilelle at Fiocruz inaugural class of 2018 school year, on March 8 (Photo: Peter Ilicciev)
“Police incursions in slums are for what and for whom?". This was how the city councilwoman and human rights defender Marielle Franco (PSOL-RJ), executed on March 14 in a still unsolved crime, expressed her indignation at the daily violence suffered by slum dwellers during a public act for peace and citizenship held in 2017, in front of the Castle of Fiocruz, in Manguinhos (RJ).
For being a resident of Maré, a nearby slum, the councilwoman used to say that Fiocruz was like a second house, where she took her daughter to vaccinate, to walk around the green area and to attend cultural events. And in a trajectory marked by the struggle and defense of human rights, the times she was at the side of this institution to support acts of resistance to violence against women, blacks, poor people and slum dwellers were not few. She was last in Fiocruz at the opening of the Foundation Academic Year last week, on the International Women's Day (March 8), with the theme of imprisoned women.
"This is a place for which I have a lot of appreciation, a lot of affection. As President of the Women's Commission, I think this is a time for a new historical reflection, a new historical time. Women incarcerated, women in prison queues ... This quest for rights is based on the search for women's rights. In this sense, the theme of the inaugural class talks about the search for this new historical time by the struggle of human rights on March 8, which is a month of struggle, of celebration. I am one of the historical feminists who thank the voices that take the place of the resistance, from this place where women are victims of rape, of violence, and who need to think about a new society. As Rosa Luxemburgo said: may flowers be born from the asphalt", concluded Marielle.
In 2013, still as a representative of the Human Rights Commission of the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, Marielle went to the community of Manguinhos, a slum next to Fiocruz, with the then president of the institution Paulo Gadelha to provide solidarity and promote a dialogue between police officers working in the community and representatives of the residents, who accused these police officers of being responsible for the death of Paulo Roberto Pinho de Menezes, 18, who died in an alley in Manguinhos.
As a partner and great collaborator, she participated in countless debates at this institution, always addressing social injustices and advocating the rights, especially of black women, in Brazilian society. In 2016, she went to the National School of Public Health Sergio Arouca (Ensp/Fiocruz) for the event Racism and Health: a necessary and urgent debate. "At this juncture, we cannot fail to mention that some mothers cannot even have access to the bodies of their dead black children," said Marielle, referring to the confrontation between drug factions, militias and police forces in Rio de Janeiro, which had caused at least 11 victims, including 7 black youths, residents of Cidade de Deus, whose bodies had been hidden in the woods.
In 2017, she participated in the round table Violence against women, also held at Ensp to mark the commemorations in honor of the International Women's Day. In the debate, Marielle advocated once again the role of resistance of women who are exposed to the various forms of violence every day and the importance of occupying a space of struggle in society.
On March 13, one day before her death, Marielle expressed indignation for the death of Matheus Melo de Castro, shot as he left the church on his way home in Manguinhos. Matheus was an employee of the company Nova Rio and had been working at Fiocruz since 2013 as a selective waste collection agent. "Another homicide of a young man who may be coming into the account of the Military Police. Matheus Melo was leaving the church. How many more will have to die for this war to end?”, she asked in her twitter.