politics

Afro-Brazilian Councilwoman Marielle Franco Was Murdered And Her Supporters Believe It Was Retaliation For Her Progressive Politics

For the last two years, Marielle Franco, a fierce city council member, was a champion for women, the poor and Blacks in Rio de Janeiro’s political sphere. On Wednesday, the 38-year-old Black leader was fatally gunned down in what supporters believe was an act of state-sanctioned retaliation for her progressive work.

Franco, a lesbian woman from the Maré favela, was leaving a Black women’s empowerment event that she helped organize in downtown Rio on the night of March 14, when two men released nine shots into her car, four hitting her head. She and her driver, Anderson Pedro Gomes, were killed.

The news of her death spread quickly, arousing communities across the world to gather for vigils and protests. More than 15 cities across Brazil have held demonstrations, with 20,000 people showing up in Rio de Janeiro’s Cinelandia neighborhood on Thursday, the night she was buried. Other gatherings were held in New York, Buenos Aires and Paris.

Several activists and social justice organizations believe the shooting was political and a direct response to Franco’s vocal criticism of police violence. The day before her murder, the human rights advocate slammed officers for taking the life of a young person.

“Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end,” she wrote.

Police are still investigating the murder, but Quartz reports that the bullets used in her killing were from a batch purchased by the Brazilian federal police in 2006. According to the news site, these bullets were also used in an 18-person massacre in São Paulo in 2015.

Franco, who pursued human rights work after her close friend was killed by a stray bullet during a shootout between drug dealers and police, was a member of the liberal Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL). In 2016, she was elected to city council, winning the fifth-highest vote of any councilor. During her campaign, she proposed 50 ideas to help women, the impoverished and Afro-Brazilians. When elected, she became the only Black woman representative on the 51-person council and one of only seven women. During her 15 months on the council, two of her 19 proposals — one regulating motorcycle taxis, a prime source of transportation in Rio’s favelas, and another aiming at City Hall contracts with social health organizations, which are often tinged with corruption — became laws.

As Franco’s death sends jolts throughout the globe, her passing is most felt among the Black Brazilian women she centered and championed.

“Her greatest victory was simply just being there and representing us,” Jaqueline Gomes de Jesus, an Afro-Brazilian college professor who plans to run for a seat on the Brazilian congress in the October 2018 national elections, told Quartz. “It was a victory for all the groups who have been historically excluded. Her occupation of this space; the approval of her laws; her presence in the debates; realization of events; all of this are indicators of her success.”

Protests around Franco’s murder are expected throughout the globe.

Read: Transgender Latina Victoria Ramos Gutierrez Murdered And Set Ablaze In Los Angeles

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

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The Spanish ‘Star-Spangled Banner’ Is Being Shared To Honor Hispanic Workers Fighting COVID-19

There’s no denying that the world looks a lot different now than it did in 1947. And while the list of all of the positive changes that the decades stretching between now and then have done for the world and minorities, a recent campaign is also highlighting the ways in which our current president could take some notes on certain values the United States held dear during this time. Particularly ones that had been pressed for by one of our former presidents.

As part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy” effort, he worked to promote positive and healthy relations between the United States in Latin American countries.

At the time Rooseveltaimed to ensure that the North, Central and South American countries avoided breaking under the influence of Axis countries during World War II. As part of this campaign, Roosevelt comissioned a Spanish and a Portuguese version of the U.S. national anthem. According to Time Magazine he also “recruited Hollywood to participate in this Good Neighbor Policy; Walt Disney went on goodwill tour of South America, hoping to find a new market for his films, and ended up producing two movies inspired by the trip: Saludos Amigos (1942) and The Three Caballeros (1944). The Brazilian star Carmen Miranda also got a boost, and her role in The Gang’s All Here made her even more famous in the U.S. And alongside these cross-cultural exchanges, the U.S. government decided it needed an anthem that could reach Spanish speakers.”

According to NPR, Clotilde Arias, wrote wrote the translation at the end of World War II, was born in the small Peruvian city, Iquitos in 1901 and moved to New York City to become a composer when she was 22-years-old. Her version of the anthem is now part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Now in an effort to support Latino communities affected by the coronavirus, the non-profit We Are All Human Foundation’s Hispanic Star campaign commissioned the a remake of the song.

Hoping to raise awareness of its Hispanic Recovery Plan and efforts to help to connect Hispanic small businesses and workers with resources during the pandemic, the campaign brought the old recording from obscurity.

For the song, the 2019 winner of the singing competition La Voz,  Jeidimar Rijos, performed “El Pendón Estrellado.” Or, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” 

The song has already received quite a bit of comments and support on Youtube.

Hang in there, fam. We can only get through this together.

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Study: Police In The Dominican Republic Are Abusing Women Sex Workers With Impunity

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Study: Police In The Dominican Republic Are Abusing Women Sex Workers With Impunity

Sex workers in the Dominican Republic, where the profession is illegal, are vulnerable to violence, but many don’t feel safe reporting these crimes to law enforcement because, in many cases, it’s police officers who are responsible for their abuse.

This month, Amnesty International released a report detailing how law enforcement in the Caribbean country rape and torture women sex workers. The study, harrowingly titled “If They Can Have Her, Why Can’t We,” includes interviews with 46 cis and trans sex workers who discuss the abuse they experienced at the hands of local police.

According to the report, of the 24 cis women interviewed, at least 10 had been raped by law enforcement, several at gunpoint. Similarly, many trans women disclosed being violently mistreated, some even tortured, by officers.

“The interviews reveal how a deeply engrained culture of machismo within the National Police, coupled with intense societal stigma and discrimination and conservative religious values, embolden law enforcement officials to unlawfully abuse their powers and punish women who engage in sex work as a form of social control,” reads the report.

One woman shared her account of being gang-raped by three policemen. In October 2017,  the woman was pulled over by an officer who spotted her waiting for clients when he forced her to enter his police van. There, he and two other patrols started groping the woman and ripping off her clothes.

“I was afraid. I was alone. I couldn’t defend myself. I had to let them do what they wanted with me,” she told Amnesty International. “They threatened me, that if I wasn’t with them they would kill me. They (said) that I was a whore, and so why not with them?”

The woman, whose shocking account influenced the title of the report, said that the officers called her a “bitch,” among other expletives, adding: “They saw me, I guess, and they thought ‘Well, if they (clients) can have her, why can’t we?’”

This mentality isn’t uncommon. The report notes that the government, and society at large, often views sex workers as less than human and are thus “deserving” of the violence they experience.

“The harrowing testimonies that Amnesty International has gathered from the Dominican Republic reveal that police routinely target and inflict sexual abuse and humiliation on women who sell sex with the purpose of punishing and discriminating against them,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International, said. “Under international law, such treatment can amount to gender-based torture and other ill-treatment.”

While this particular study looked at the problem in the Dominican Republic, Guevara-Rosas says police violence against sex workers isn’t unique to the region but rather follows a pattern of gender-based violence across Latin America and the Caribbean. She calls it an “epidemic” and notes that marginalized women, like sex workers, are at increased risk because of fear arrest.

Read: Mothers, Students And Teachers Protested — And Were Attacked By Police — At Puerto Rico’s May Day March

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