By Laura Madden, Contributing Reporter
SALVADOR, BRAZIL – The death toll after the military police (PM) of Bahia went on strike has already reached 56 as of Saturday evening, according to the Public Security Bureau of Bahia (SSP-BA). General José Carlos De Nardi, the chief of staff of the Brazilian armed forces, reported that about 3,000 troops have now been stationed in Salvador and a few cities in the interior of Bahia to restore order.
Bahia state governor Jaques Wagner, of the Brazilian Worker’s Party (PT) called the strike an attempt at “psychological warfare” to “create a state of despair so that the state government will succumb to the PM’s demands.”
Governor Wagner quelled rumors of an invasion of the Legislative Assembly, where strikers are camped.
Addressing suspicions that the PM is involved in the crime wave, he said that twelve arrest warrants issued by Minister of Justice José Eduardo Cardozo, who visited Bahia Saturday, were for those identified in acts of vandalism such as slashing tires of buses and police cars.
Cardozo added that “All the crimes committed during this period are qualified as federal crimes and will be treated as such,” said Cardozo.
“I do not see how to pardon those who committed the crime of vandalism or issued death threats. That’s not okay with me,” said governor Wagner, who added: “Governors can not be threatened by police with guns.”
The police strike in Bahia started on Wednesday, demanding better salaries and working conditions.
Rio’s public security forces, the Polícia Civil, Polícia Militar and Bombeiros (Firefighters) are threatening to go on strike during the 2012 Carnival period if demands over increased wages and better working conditions are not met.
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