Activist with a prize on his head in Brazil discovers life in Portugal without gunshots

Interview with Brazilian writer and activist Anderson França, in Lisbon, October 16, 2019. (ACCOMPANY

Interview with Brazilian writer and activist Anderson França, in Lisbon, October 16, 2019. (ACCOMPANY TEXT OF 21 OCTOBER 2019) INÁCIO ROSA / LUSA

  |  LUSA

When Bolsonaro came to power about a year ago, activist Anderson França decided to leave Brazil to escape certain death and it was in Portugal that he discovered a life without gunshots, but also with some closed doors.

Anderson França introduces himself as a social entrepreneur, teacher, screenwriter, writer and human rights activist. He grew up in a slum, in Rio de Janeiro, and it was his opposition to Jair Bolsonaro that led to his departure from Brazil, where there was a price on his head of 10,000 euros.

He was close to Marielle Franco - the PSOL councilwoman murdered in March of 2018 - and remembers this death as "the end of a pact".

"It was a message: it is no use electing a black lesbian woman from the periphery, we are going to kill you. Marielle was the crowning symbol of 20 years of activism, she ment a lot to us, and when she was killed, it was the end of a pact for that Brazilian society, which became neo-fascist, about human rights. "

Anderson França worked as a political consultant for Marina Silva, former Senator and former Lula da Silva government minister, when Jair Bolsonaro was elected.

That day, his heart "collapsed" and he felt that he could not continue in Brazil.

"I lived in a very violent zone of Rio de Janeiro. The militia that killed Marielle Franco lived in a neighborhood next to mine and I was already a well-known voice in Brazil, because I denounced the police by name", he said, referring to the accusation made against the policeman who killed the bricklayer Amarildo, in Rocinha, in 2013, in a case that has become a symbol of police brutality and abuse.

"I reported that policeman and so they broke into my house, stole tech stuff, cameras, because they contained evidence, (...) and in 2017 a price of almost 10,000 euros was put on my head, at the Parati Literary Fair.", he explained.

And he went on: "We were threatened on [social] media, they threatened to butcher my mother".

Andersen França was advised to leave the country and arrived in Portugal as a visitor, as "there was no time for asylum or humanitarian application".

From those early days in Portugal he remembers his fear, but also the discovery of a country where, for the first time, he spent almost a year without hearing a gunshot.

"I only became aware of the degree of verbal, psychological and physical violence when I arrived in Portugal", he said, praising the way Portuguese police approach citizens.