Ceara police strike (Feb. 24, 2020)
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro dispatched army troops to quell unrest in Ceará state on Friday, in the midst of a police strike that has caused a security crisis. The decision came after a senator, Cid Gomes, was shot while driving a digger towards a picket line. At least 122 people were murdered in four days of the Ceará strike. Masked officers forced businesses to close, occupied barracks and damaged police vehicles -- causing panic ahead of Carnival festivities this weekend.
In 2017, more than 3,000 troops were deployed in Espirito Santo state to quell unrest after a police strike produced a wave of violence, looting and burning of buses.
Such strikes, which are illegal in Brazil. Critics say officers were emboldened by Bolsonaro's harsh policing rhetoric, and growing prominence of politicians with police backgrounds. Indeed, Bolsonaro refrained from condemning the Ceará mutiny, and, last week, defended an amnesty that would shield officers who participated in the strike. Government officials, and Bolsonaro's son Senator Flavio Bolsonaro defended police shooting of Gomes as self-defense.
“The governor has made a lot of empty promises to the military police. At some point, that bomb can explode,” lawmaker Davi Maia told the Associated Press.
Analysts note that police unrest is most radical in states led by opposition governors, including Ceará, which is governed by the opposition Workers' Party. An editorial in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper called the Ceará strike “armed blackmail” that should be “contained” before it spilled over to other states.
In Minas Gerais, police obtained a 42 percent salary increase this year after threatening to strike, despite the state's dismal public finances.
“However legitimate the public security officers' salary demands are, it is unacceptable that bad policemen spread fear and panic among the population,” said the Brazil Forum of Public Security, last week.
(Folha de S. Paulo, El País, Folha de S. Paulo, Guardian, Associated Press, Associated Press)
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Carnival in pictures. (Guardian)
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Sonia Nazario shares her own family's experiences as refugees across generations to call for "an immigration policy that is both sane and humane," in the New York Times.
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El País profiles Ricardo Calderón, a Colombian journalist who flies under the radar but has carried out hard-hitting investigations into military corruption.
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