Brazil's government ordered 5,000 army troops to one of the host cities for the coming World Cup to provide law and order after a police strike led to civil unrest and looting.On Wednesday, the troops entered Salvador, the capital of Bahia state in northeastern Brazil, the state where police began striking on Tuesday night followed by the ransacking of shops and supermarkets, according to local reports.
Many schools and universities were closed and a transportation union kept its drivers off the streets on Wednesday evening due to concerns for their drivers' safety, idling 2,400 buses.
The military operation was authorized by President Dilma Rousseff based on the request from [Bahia] Governor Jaques Wagner, the Defense ministry said. The ministry said more troops would be sent if needed.
It wasn't the first time the government sent troops to Salvador, a picturesque colonial-era city of nearly three million that is a popular tourist destination. One of Brazil's great novelists, Jorge Amado has written several books centered in this city, among which Doña Flor and her two husbands.
But the response this time was far quicker than a prior police 12-day strike in 2012 that sparked a wave of violence and 108 homicides before the army intervened. Following that strike, the police won some wage and benefit concessions. They now earn about 1,115 dollars a month, more than three times the minimum wage.
Wednesday's operation was also the second time in two weeks that the army has been deployed on the streets of Brazil. The government sent troops and marines to occupy Complexo da Maré, Rio de Janeiro's most populous cluster of favelas, through the end of the World Cup this summer.
Salvador will host six matches during the World Cup, starting with a match between Spain and Netherlands on June 13. The last match will be a quarterfinal on July 5.
The president of the Police and Firefighters Association of Bahia state, Marco Prisco, said that the strike will be reviewed when the regional government responds to the demands the police have made.
If they attend to our proposals, the strike will end today, Prisco said.