Marinette da Silva, mother of slain councilwoman Marielle Franco, stands next to a huge cardboard depicting Franco, during a tribute to commemorate the 5th anniversary of his assassination, at the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Art, Tuesday, December 14. March 2023. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Relatives and supporters gathered in Rio de Janeiro Tuesday to mark the fifth anniversary of the assassination of councilwoman Marielle Franco amid hopes that investigations into her death will speed up under the new president of left of Brazil
“It has been five years of pain, suffering, hope and questions without answers. Half a decade is a long time,” Marinete da Silva, the mother of the murdered councilwoman, told reporters after the unveiling of a 36-foot-tall (11-meter) carton of her daughter at the Rio Art Museum.
In the cartoon, Marielle — who was black, bisexual and known internationally by name — appears wearing a flowery dress and the figure represents her enormous legacy, da Silva said.
In 2016, Marielle won the elections to the city council, where she fought against violence that affects women while defending human rights and social programs, especially in favelas like the one where she was born and raised. The rising political star and her driver were murdered on the night of March 14, 2018, as they were returning from an event to empower young black women.
Since then, the councilor has become a martyr and a symbol of resistance from the left. She can be found silhouetted on t-shirts and painted on walls throughout the South American country, and even abroad.
Two former police officers accused of carrying out the double murder are in prison awaiting trial, but the central questions about the case remain unanswered: Who ordered Marielle’s murder and what were their motives?
Marielle’s father, Antonio Francisco da Silva Neto, said the far-right former president, Jair Bolsonaro, did not carry out a coordinated effort to solve the case. He believes that justice can finally be done under President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who took office in January.
“We wouldn’t have any hope if President Lula hadn’t been elected,” he told reporters.
Lula has worked hard to honor Marielle’s memory and to speed up the investigations. On International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8, she sent a bill to Congress to declare March 14 a day dedicated to Marielle and focused on the fight against political, gender and racial violence.
On Tuesday, Lula and his cabinet stood up and observed a minute’s silence. Marielle’s sister, Anielle Franco, who is Lula’s Minister of Racial Equality, shed a few tears.
“It is very important to us as a family… to have a government that is interested in the case and has shown, more than ever, to be willing to collaborate so that we can find out who ordered the murder of my sister,” Anielle Franco said.
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