Deal to end Brazil police strike fails as violence spikes
Feb. 11 (UPI) — A deal announced by government officials to end a weeklong police strike in a Brazilian state failed to materialize Saturday, as the capital’s body count continued to rise in the security vacuum.
Police in the state of Espirito Santo walked off the job a week ago, leaving the region and its capital Vitoria largely lawless. Officials said 136 people have been killed since police stopped patrolling streets in a dispute over pay and workers’ rights.
Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jungmann visited Vitoria on Saturday and said more than 3,000 soldiers and police officers from across the country had been brought in to Vitoria to help restore order. Bus service was largely restored Friday after days of no public transportation due to fears of violence, though schools and many businesses remained closed.
Brazilian officials said the police strike is “illegal” because public safety workers are prohibited from walking off the job en masse over labor issues. Officers’ wives took up the protesting, blockading police stations to support their husbands.
Other Brazilian states had also seen police, who are part of the nation’s military, threatening to strike, but they failed to materialize. The BBC reported police in Espirito Santo are the lowest paid of all 27 Brazilian states.
State officials announced what they said was a deal to end the strike on Friday night, but police officers failed to return to work at 7 a.m. Saturday, and denied any deal was reached.