Brazil's Chamber of Deputies honors Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes in a ceremony on the day of the vote on Brazão's arrest

The ceremony had already been scheduled weeks ago and intensified demands for accountability

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | Brasília (Federal District) |
During their speeches, parliamentarians honored Marielle and hold posters and sunflowers - Mario Agra / Câmara dos Deputados

Surrounded by the sound of drums and emotional speeches and calls for justice, the plenary of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies honored the Socialism and Freedom Party (PSOL) councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver Anderson Gomes, murdered in March 2018.

The session had already been scheduled days before. However, it ended up coinciding with the week in which the Federal Police operation that arrested the three suspected masterminds of the crime, including federal deputy Chiquinho Brazão (no party, Rio de Janeiro state), came to light.

The ceremony intensified the pressure to hold Chiquinho Brazão accountable, whose preventive arrest was evaluated by the Chamber on Tuesday afternoon (26).

Congresswoman Talíria Petrone (PSOL, Rio de Janeiro), who proposed holding the ceremony, said that the feeling after the Federal Police revelations is one of "intense revolt". She also argued that the legislature should focus on guaranteeing measures to combat militias, criminal organizations whose activities are directly linked to Marielle’s case.

Talíria started collecting signatures among parliamentarians this week to file a proposed constitutional amendment (PEC, in Portuguese) that ensures the federalization of investigations involving this type of group or other paramilitary collectives with the participation of state agents. Dubbed "PEC against militias", the measure needs 171 signatures to go through Congress.

A musical group played in honor of Marielle and Anderson / Mario Agra / Câmara dos Deputados

She complained about the delay in identifying the masterminds of Marielle's murder – it took six years between the crime and the arrests of last Sunday (24) – and recalled denying the federalization of the case made it easier to obstruct investigations and actions by the judiciary.

Petrone also called for Brazão's imprisonment to be upheld, and for the deputy, who is the subject of a request of this nature to the Chamber's Ethics Council, to be removed from office. On Sunday, PSOL filed the representation.

"It is the task of this parliament, as quickly as possible, to ratify the arrest of a federal deputy who murdered a Black woman from a favela, an elected politician. It's the responsibility of this parliament to remove him from office," Petrone stated, adding that "we need answers."

Congressman Chico Alencar (PSOL, Rio de Janeiro state) during a tribute to Marielle / Mario Agra / Câmara dos Deputados

"Historic date"

Brazil’s Minister of Human Rights, Silvio Almeida, attended the session and said it is necessary to "think about public security that firmly confronts" militias. The coordinator of the Marielle Franco Institute, Ligia Batista, said that this Tuesday is "an essentially historic date" because it pays tribute to the city councilor who was murdered "by speaking up against the violence market that has historically been institutionalized in Rio de Janeiro.” Also present in the plenary, the national president of PSOL, Paula Coradi, said the moment was one of "great indignation" due to the involvement of state agents in the crime.

Session in honor of Marielle and Anderson had been scheduled weeks ago, but coincided with the date on which the CCJ is evaluating Chiquinho Brazão's arrest / Mario Agra / Câmara dos Deputados

In the same vein, PSOL advisor Fernanda Chaves, a survivor of the attack that killed Marielle and Anderson, criticized the state's failures in investigating the case. She said, "The hope and the fight for justice have not been in vain". "They are condemned to live daily with Marielle Franco's strength," he added. 

In a virtual participation, Anderson Gomes' wife, Agatha Arnaus, said "The fight for truth cannot be forgotten". "It's a wound that won't heal. They still owe us many answers," she continued.

Benedita da Silva (Workers’ Party, Rio de Janeiro) recalled her time working with Marielle in Rio politics and highlighted the fact that she was the third Black woman elected to Rio’s city council. "I'm trying hard not to cry because they don't deserve our tears, but our protest. We have to ask for them to be truly condemned. Justice has to be done, and it has to be real."

"Jail for these people is too little," said Benedita da Silva, demanding that those involved in Marielle's murder be held accountable/ Mario Agra / Câmara dos Deputados

Congresswoman Maria do Rosário (Workers’ Party, Rio Grande do Sul state), who is a member of the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Deputies and led the session's opening ceremony, said "There is hope for justice". 

"The Chamber has held solemn sessions every year [to recall the crime] and, in some years, it was not mobilized here, but in Brazilian society. [The struggle] has never ceased to exist because we are not used to impunity and political violence. We can't say that we've fully clarified [the case] now, but we can say that an important step has been taken."

Edited by: Matheus Alves de Almeida