By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Among the traditional samba tunes this year during Carnival in Brazil, several samba schools and ‘blocos’ honored lawmaker and activist, Marielle Franco, gunned down last year in the center of Rio de Janeiro.
One of Rio’s most prestigious samba schools, Mangueira, honored Franco on Monday night (March 4th) during its parade. According to samba school organizers, the objective of this year’s samba story plot was to show the participation of popular leaders who have influenced the history of Brazil.
The lawmaker’s sister, father and daughter carried a banner written “Marielle Presente” (Marielle Present). Franco’s partner, Monica Benicio, also present during the parade, said this homage was proof of how importante Franco was to Rio’s black community.
“Is a great thrill to have Marielle honored there; to know that she has become a reference for black girls,”said Benicio.
According to her, Franco’s friends and colleagues will continue to fight ‘until the death of the lawmaker is explained’.
But it was not only in Rio, Franco’s hometown, that paid tribute to the activist. In Sao Paulo, samba school Vai-Vai had parade members holding up a photograph of the lawmaker with the words: Marielle Presente.
The popular street blocos also paid tribute to Franco. In Rio de Janeiro, ‘Se Benze que da’(bless yourself that things will work out – loose translation) a bloco created by Franco in 2015 in the Mare favela complex.
In São Paulo, the all-woman bloco I’lu Oba de Min, SP, wrote this year’s samba song as a tribute to Franco. The bloco Vai Quem Quer’ (Go if you want), also held parade during several days in several locations in São Paulo, with Franco as one of its honorees.
In the Northeastern state of Pernambuco, the political party PSOL, which Franco was a part of, promises to parade a giant Franco doll through the streets of Olinda. According to party officials, the tribute to Franco will be during the bloco ‘Bota a cara no sol’ (Point your face towards the sun) .
Marielle Franco was murdered on March 14, 2018, along with her driver, Anderson Gomes, after a meeting.
Investigations continue on the case. One line of inquiries followed by police point to the involvement of militias in the murder of the councilwoman.