Rio City Councilman Implicated in Murder of Marielle Franco – General Strike in Argentina – Anne Hathaway Walks Out to Support Conde Naste Strike

Rio City Councilwoman Marielle Franco was assassinated in 2018 (Brazilian Government)

Folks, 

Greetings from Joao Pessoa, Brazil – the easternmost point in the Americas, where Payday is up in the Northeast of Brazil, covering what Brazilians call “solidarity economics.” 

The big news today happened back down south in Rio de Janeiro. 

Rio City Councilman Implicated in Murder of Rio City Councilwoman Marielle Franco 

In March of 2018, socialist Rio City Councilwoman Marielle Franco and her driver, Anderson Gomes, were assassinated by gunmen linked to the Bolsonaro regime. While the gunman, Ronnie Lessei, a former military policeman, was caught back in 2019, he had so far refused to name those who paid him to kill Marielle Franco. 

The Intercept Brasil reports that Ronnie Lessei has made a plea deal with federal authorities. In the agreement, they declared that he said that he was paid to assassinate Franco by right-wing Rio City Councilman Domingos Brazão, a close ally of Bolsonaro. 

In addition to being a city councilman, Brazão was a major developer in Rio de Janeiro. Brazáo used his ties to paramilitary gangs to increase his political influence and grow his business, earning the nickname “King of Jacarepagua,” a rapidly expanding suburb in the West Zone of Rio de Janeiro. 

As a city councilwoman, Marielle Franco highlighted and called for investigations into how Brazáo used illegal methods and violent intimidation to grow his construction and real estate empire. Brazáo had been suspected in the killing of Franco for years, but Lessei’s plea deal is the hardest evidence that has emerged linking the political titan to Franco’s death. 

While no official announcement has been made by federal authorities about the pleas, the Director of the Brazilian Federal Police said that they would have an announcement about the direction of the case by the end of March. 

The families of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes put out a statement through the Marielle Franco Institute, which they founded, hoping that this news would lead to finding who paid for the killing of Franco and Gomes. 

“Once again, the families of Marielle Franco and Anderson Gomes were surprised by news about an alleged plea agreement with Ronnie Lessa, one of those accused of carrying out the crime, who could indicate one of the masterminds behind the brutal murder of Marielle and Anderson,” read the statement. 

“We expect that the news will bring progress, but we emphasize that so far there have been no official updates, and the validity depends on the approval by the High Court of Justice,” read the statement. “We will continue to look for answers about who ordered Marielle to be killed and why. We will continue fighting for justice and reparation measures, so that this sad episode does not repeat itself.”

For more, check out the Intercept Brasil. 

Help Finish Our Documentary “Marielle Vive” 

As many of you know, I studied with Marielle Franco when we were both scholarship students at PUC-RIO in the mid-2000s. While her story has inspired countless activists in Brazil, it is not widely known in the United States.

Since August, I’ve been working on a documentary about how Marielle continues to inspire people in Brazil. The documentary focuses heavily on a Landless Workers Movement land occupation called “Marielle Vive,” founded three weeks after Marielle was assassinated in 2018. 

We have already filmed over 20 hours of footage, and several major film producers are interested in helping us distribute it when it comes out. 

We initially thought that we would be done in February. Still, now the story is expanding, with the federal government likely to announce the results of the investigation into her death. We are going to need to film more and stay till at least the end of March. 

Donate to help us stay on the ground and continue to tell this story. Please sign up as one of our 753 recurring donors today. 

Argentinian Unions Go on General Strike Against Millei 

Further south, trade unions went on general strike in Argentina to protest over 100 reforms proposed by recently elected right-wing president Javier Millei. The strike has rallied international support. 

“The new president of Argentina has put forward a raft of draconian, anti-democratic legislation that threatens decades of progress and hard-fought social protections,” said UNI Global Union in a statement. “Trade unions around the world are particularly concerned about the Protocol for Social and Trade Union Mobilizations, which sets extremely restrictive rules; the DNU Decree (Decreto de Necesidad y Urgencia), which aims to eliminate more than three hundred laws; and the controversial draft “ley ómnibus,” which would provide sweeping powers to the administration to implement measures detrimental to citizens, workers and unionists.” 

For more, check out the Financial Times. 

UAW Calls for General Strike on May 1st, 2028 

When the historic “Stand Up Strike” against the Big Three automakers was settled this past fall, UAW President Shawn Fain said all Big Three auto contracts would expire on May 1st, 2028. He encouraged other unions to coordinate their May 1st, 2028 contract expirations. 

Now, Fain is calling for unions worldwide to go on a general strike on May 1, 2028. 

“We have to pay for our sins of the past. Back in 1980 when Reagan at the time fired PATCO workers, everybody in this country should have stood up and walked the hell out,” Fain said at a conference of UAW members in DC this week. “We missed the opportunity then, but we’re not going to miss it in 2028. That’s the plan. We want a general strike. We want everybody walking out just like they do in other countries.”

For more, check out labor reporter Michael Sainato’s piece at the Guardian

Anne Hathaway Walks Out of Vogue Shoot to Support Striking Journalists

Finally, today, over 400 members of Condé Nast publications Vanity Fair, Vogue, Condé Nast Entertainment, Bon Appétit, and others walked out for 24 hours to protest talks of layoffs.  

While workers chanted, “Bosses wear Prada, workers get nada,” Anne Hathaway, who became famous for her early role as Andy Sachs in The Devil Wears Prada (coincidentally playing an abused assistant to a fashion magazine editor based on Vogue’s Anna Wintour), was inside sitting for a photo. 

Wintour was criticized earlier this year when she didn’t even remove her sunglasses when the staff of Pitchfork were laid off when the music publication was folded into GQ. 

Anne Hathaway, who was being readied for the shoot, was informed by SAG-AFTRA of the walkout, and according to Variety, “Once Anne was made aware of what was going on, she just got up from hair and makeup and left.”

For more, check out Variety. 

News & Strikes Happening Elsewhere 

Alright, folks, that’s all for today. Keep sending tips, story ideas, suggestions, and comments to [email protected] 

Donate to help us continue our documentary about Marielle Franco. Please, sign up as one of our 783 recurring donors today. 

Love & Solidarity, 

Melk 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing over 1,800 stories from 46 states, Elk was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election & traveled with him to the Oval Office. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]