To Fight like Marielle is not to Lose Hope

By Monica Benicio on March 14, 2019

Monica Benicio and her wife Marielle Franco

The wife of Marielle Franco remembers the murders of the Brazilian councilwoman and her driver Anderson Gomes a year after the crime.

It’s been 365 days without Marielle. Three hundred and sixty five days of grief as my main companion, as well as my insistence on knowing who gave the orders to kill my wife. I insist because guaranteeing justice in Brazil is not easy. Our country is controlled by organized crime, by militias, by corruption, by the imprisonment of black youth, by the murder of LGBT, women and indigenous people. A Brazil that hides its memory and has the marks of slavery deeply-rooted in its path.

Two days ago, the killers of Marielle and Anderson were arrested. We had to wait one year for it to happen. Somehow, in the face of a terrifying and criminal scenario, they say the process was fast. It was fast for those who did not lose a wife or husband, a mother or father, a friend, a political reference and inspiration for the over 46 thousand people who voted Marielle in 2016.

Anderson, her driver, was also killed. Fernanda Chaves, Marielle’s advisor, was inside the car and her life was dramatically altered. She lost a godmother, a friend. She fled the country with her family. We did not live our mourning. It’s been 365 days that grows longer without Marielle.

Brazil has its hands stained with blood after executing Marielle since not even her status as deputy prevented her from being killed. A murder which has an open misogynist and racist nature to it. I need to reiterate what the essence of my wife was. She was a Black woman, raised in the Mare favela, mother, socialist and lesbian. Marielle and I were related in several ways for 14 years but we could only live in the same house and build our family in the later years. We have been attacked through various forms of lesbophobia. Many of these aggressions remain present today, like when they deny Marielle’s lesbianism or when they do not recognize me as her wife.

I continue fighting for justice for her because I try to preserve her memory, to maintain us together and so that no other family feels the sorrow of the daily absence of their beloved like I am.

Marielle was taken from us in the worst-case scenario given the causes she represented. We will not keep quiet until we get to know the real reasons of her execution and who ordered the murder of my wife. Our struggle for freedom flags are not our executioners. It’s like if she was guilty for making an investigation. We must not allow that because Marielle loved life and working in politics was a way for her to contribute with social justice.

Today I’m at Princeton in the United States, invited by activist Angela Davis. I chose the company of this woman who inspired our lives. Today, I need the same courage to get up as in March 18, 2018. My grief is inexplicable and time is endless. I hope the streets of Brazil maintain the same courage and persistence Marielle had to take part in politics. Fighting like Marielle is to not lose hope. I’m hopeful that there will be better days.

A.D.M.V. is how we signed our letters when we had to hide our love. The world knows about our history now, LOVE OF MY LIFE. Forever, us. Forever with you.

Monica Benicio is an urban architect, feminist activist and human rights defender, M.S. in architecture and LGBT activist.

Source: Dominio-Cuba, translation, Resumen Latino Americano, North American bureau