In Brazil, Bloody Police Strike Goes On in Espírito Santo and Spreads to Rio

    Despite an announcement by the government that the state of Espírito Santos, in southeastern Brazil, and the military police had reached an agreement the police strike in that state continued Saturday.

    More than 700 police are facing charges of insurrection for not working, which could lead to prison sentences from eight to 20 years.

    In an evening press conference in the state capital building in Vitória, officials said that they expected police to return to work by 7 am Saturday after the state government agreed to prioritize promotion and address concerns about workload.

    In the same statement officials explicitly said they have not agreed to the central demand of the striking officers – a 43 percent salary increase – raising speculation about how many officers would actually return to work on Saturday.

    Police officers did not in fact return to work on Saturday and the week-long strike filled with violence and chaos continued.

    Many relatives of the striking officers, who had played a key role in initiating the illegal strike which started last Saturday, said publicly after the deal was announced that the police union did not represent them and that they were not consulted on the agreement.

    The announcement of the deal came after the state public safety director, Andre Garcia, said that 703 of the coastal state’s militarized police officers had been charged with “revolt.”

    Since the strike began last Saturday the oil producing state – and especially its capital city – has been rocked by a wave of robberies, looting and violence, with the police union reporting that 137 people had been killed in the past week, a number four times higher than the murders that occur in a whole month.

    Brazil’s president Michel Temer had deployed 1,200 soldiers to Espírito Santo by Wednesday of this week and promised that another 3,000 would arrive by the weekend.

    Many local schools, clinics, and businesses have been closed throughout the week and all public transport in the state capital ended after a transport workers union leader was found murdered on Thursday. One state retail association estimated that the job action has caused up to US$ 30 million in losses.

    The announcement of the deal came as concern grew that the job action was spreading to the neighboring Rio de Janeiro state, where on Friday several local districts reported small scale police walk-offs.

    The strike in Espírito Santo comes almost two months after Brazil’s national parliament passed an austerity bill, putting a 20-year cap on all public spending.



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