“It’s easy to put the blame on a ‘neguinha’; they arrested her because she’s black” says mother of Ph.D candidate being held as a suspect in murder of Italian woman

Valdicéia França laments the imprisoning of her daughter Mirian
Valdicéia França laments the imprisoning of her daughter Mirian

Note from BW of Brazil: This is a follow-up to a story we presented yesterday. In yesterday’s post we pointed out the race factor and how Afro-Brazilians, regardless of their education or credentials, are always seen as “suspect” by Brazilian authorities. As it turns out, the imprisoned woman’s mother sees the writing on the wall too!

It’s easy to blame a ‘neguinha’ says mother of woman arrested after death of Italian woman in Jericoacoara

Courtesy of Ceará Agora

From her home in the Baixada Fluminense region of Rio de Janeiro, the retiree Valdicéia França, 63, hasn’t managed speak with her daughter, Miriam França de Mello, 31, since she was arrested last Monday (29/12), in Fortaleza, suspected of involvement in the murder Italian woman Gaia Molinari.

She was found dead on the 25th, strangled in Jericoacoara on the coast of Ceará. Mirian, who traveled with Gaia, has been placed in preventative prison for 30 days, for contradictions in her statements, police said.

“I tried to talk to her by phone, but they said that they could not make the connection or pass messages. The police saw a neguinha (little black girl) (1), poor, and tourist and it’s easy to put the blame on her,” Valdicéia told the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, in the edition this Saturday (01/03).

Miriam França de Mello, left, was arrested and imprisoned and is considered a suspect in the murder of an Italian tourist, Gaia Molinari
Miriam França de Mello, left, was arrested and imprisoned and is considered a suspect in the murder of an Italian tourist, Gaia Molinari

“If it was my daughter dead, would the Italian woman be arrested? It’s racism. The commissioner said that she will keep my daughter imprisoned until she collaborates. What does that mean? They want to force her to confess to a crime that I know she would never do,” she added.

The Folha de São Paulo newspaper couldn’t find a representative of the Ceará police for comment.

The last time that she spoke to Mirian, on Christmas, her daughter made a prayer request. “She told me: I am very ill mother, a friend of mine died. Pray for me and for her soul. I’m now in a spiritual center to pray for her too,” she recalled.

A doctoral student at the Institute of Microbiology at UFRJ (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Mirian has lived alone since the age of 20, she passed the vestibular (entrance exam) for a Chemistry course at the same university.

Until 29, she lived in the UFRJ accommodation, aimed at low-income students. Two years ago, she began to share an apartment with Raquel Albuquerque, 27, a course colleague.

“She invited me to travel, but I didn’t have any money and didn’t go,” said Rachel.

According to her friend, while she was giving her testimony, Mirian came to talk to her by cell phone message. “She told me that on Christmas Eve she was waiting for Gaia to return to Jericoacoara to go to Canoa Quebrada, but Gaia didn’t show up, not even for dinner,” she said.

“They arrested her because of her skin color. The only thing that weighs against her is the fact of her being black. It’s discrimination.” At the moment, Mirian still hasn’t constituted an attorney.

Professor Maria Bélio that counsels Mirian at UFRJ, said that the university is in contact with public defenders in Fortaleza, who should take on the case.

“She is an applied, studious student. We know that by the nature of Miriam, she would never commit a murder.”

Source: Ceará Agora


1. The term neguinha, a diminutive form of the term negra, literally means “little black girl” and can be used in an affectionate manner or a pejorative manner depending on the tone of voice and context of a conversation. Numerous posts that feature the term can provide examples of its usage.

About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.


  1. I hope that the movement against police brutality against Black Brazilians will use their power through social media and street protest to bring this woman’s story to the forefront. The police here are power hungry and are not keen on keeping records or following the proper procedures for things, as is well documented. The justice system is also notoriously unjust and slow – especially for people who are not white or who do not have money and connections. But the authorities generally do succumb to public pressure when enough people shout about things here. I hope they will highlight the incarceration of this Black woman, rather than focussing only on the death of a European lady.

    • I agree. This case just reeks of racism.I don’t trust these police officers at all. I don’t think they really have a case.

  2. Where are the facts that would allow a reader to have an educated opinion? This story is all emotion, no facts. While the background circumstances may be true and of concern, there is too little factual information in this story as printed here to understand what has actually happened in this case.

  3. Someone should try to get her a lawyer at least. I have lived in Brazil but I’m not very knowledgeable about their protocol when it comes to arrests. (I guess little protocol is followed in certain cases since some people are justs eliminated). Is there some kind of legal aid? As much as I am suspicious of things here in the U.S. at least someone who is arrested has free legal counsel (public defender). Since she has a college degree she should at least be in a “better” prison since apparently they have different prisons for those with at least a college degree. (I don’t get that, but it’s not my country).

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