MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, June 4th 2023 - 10:26 UTC



Brazil sends elite force to quash police strikers entrenched in city of Salvador

Monday, February 6th 2012 - 06:40 UTC
Full article 9 comments
Army commander General Enzo Martins said more troops are on the way Army commander General Enzo Martins said more troops are on the way

Troops locked down the northeast Brazilian city of Salvador on Sunday as an elite unit prepared to besiege the legislature and arrest armed police officers whose strike action has sent homicides spiralling.

A force of 2.600 members from army, navy and federal police was ordered to quell unrest in the state of Bahia after leading police officers went on strike on Wednesday demanding higher pay, weeks before the annual Carnival.

Homicides have skyrocketed since the strike. State officials said 81 murders were reported over the past five days, more than twice the number for the same period last year. Assaults and store lootings also increased.

“There are 40 men of an elite group that arrived to capture the strikers,” a state government source said, as soldiers patrolled key intersections in the city and kept watch over its popular beaches.

The head of the state legislature, Marcelo Nilo, urged the strikers to leave the building before midnight Sunday. The site “cannot be used as a refuge for those fleeing justice,” Nilo said.

Scores of armed policemen demanding an amnesty have been occupying part of the building since the strike began, said Bahia state government spokesman Robinson Almeida.
“The government knows that 99% of us are armed. If they try to evict us there will be a bloodbath,” an unidentified police officer told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

One strike leader was arrested on Sunday on charges of “incitement to violence, forming gangs and theft of public property,” officials said. Arrest warrants were outstanding against 11 other leaders.

Bahia Governor Jaques Wagner has declared the strike illegal and asked for federal help. Brazil's top army commander, General Enzo Martins, told the Agencia Brasil that 900 more soldiers were being deployed to Bahia to help provide additional security.

The strike and the spike in violence came just two weeks before millions of tourists were expected to arrive for Brazil's premier tourist event, the Carnival. Bahia, Brazil's fourth most populous state with a population of 13.6 million is an important centre for Carnival celebrations.

Pedro Galvao, president of the Association of Travel Agencies of Bahia, told Brazil's O Globo newspaper that 10% of tourists had already cancelled their air and hotel reservations for the Carnival.

Some 10,000 police officers, or one third of the Bahia police force, were on strike, demanding a 50% pay raise, better work conditions, and no retaliation, the state Public Safety Department said. The average wage for a state officer is about 867 dollars a month.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • ChrisR

    In this life you get what you pay for. Can anybody wonder why the police are unhappy at 867 USD per month? And why there is so much corruption in the police force?

    “Some 10,000 police officers, or one third of the Bahia police force, were on strike, demanding a 50% pay raise, better work conditions, and no retaliation,” Well now there are 2,600 troops coming I bet there will be some retaliation, oh yes.

    I think President Dilma is doing a very good job in extremely difficult circumstances. Frankly, I wish she were president of Argentina.

    Feb 06th, 2012 - 01:41 pm 0
  • GeoffWard2

    It's a good job we have plenty of private armed Security along the beach-front properties, etc. This is the ideal opportunity for opportunistic criminals to take what they want with little risk of apprehension.

    It sounds like the situation of the Tottenham riots of last year when the police 'withdrew'.
    This scenario has just been run as a drama on today's BBC Radio 4 as 'Blue Flu', where the British police didn't strike, but 90% declared they were ill.

    3,500 Federal defense force and Federal Police can do a bit, but the loss of cover when 10,000 strike means the federal people can't cover everywhere - even if they don't attend to the striking armed State police.

    But you're right, Chris. - if they were paid properly there would be much less 'need' to extort pocket-money from the poor bloody motorists.

    Feb 06th, 2012 - 04:25 pm 0
  • Fido Dido

    how about a good tax reform? Rather than paying more, give the police local/state a better tax rate so they have more money in their wallet after paying tax.

    Feb 06th, 2012 - 06:46 pm 0
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!