A Killing in Rio

Last Wednesday night in Rio de Janeiro, a 38-year old gay black single-mother from one of the city’s largest favelas was shot to death, along with her driver, by two unknown gunmen.


In a city where violence has reached epidemic proportions, those details alone might have gone unnoticed except that this particular woman was Marielle Franco (pictured above), a popular first-term city councilwoman and outspoken advocate for the human rights of women and minorities. Franco had been particularly passionate on the subject of violence by Rio’s famously trigger-happy police — long a subject of international human rights concern.

The incident has quickly taken on national political dimensions, as thousands have hit the streets across Brazil to mourn Franco’s death and demand accountability. The government is under pressure to find out who ordered the killing — suspicion is rampant that it was a message from disgruntled policemen or illegal militias composed of ex-officers.

Moreover, the federal government recently sent the military to take control of security in Rio. Franco’s killing makes it look like the army isn’t doing a great job, and public support for the intervention has fallen since last week, though it’s still at 71 percent.

Lastly, because of who she was and what she stood for, her murder brings together three third-rail issues in Brazil — security, race, and poverty — as the country heads for a pivotal election in which anti-establishment anger is running high, polarization is extreme, and one of the leading candidates, former army-man Jair Bolsonaro, has said that cops aren’t cops unless they kill people. A volatile brew in what is already a deeply uncertain political climate.

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

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