By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The government announced yesterday (July 28th) that the implementation of the National Security Plan in Rio de Janeiro will employ 8,500 members of the Armed Forces, 620 members of the National Security Force and 1,120 of the Federal Highway Police, in an effort to improve security.
In the middle of an economic crisis and a surge of crime in Rio, federal authorities are stepping in to help. Defense Minister Raul Jungmann described the operation as ‘focusing on three pillars: integration, intelligence and surprise’.
Looking to avoid a costly occupation effort, Jungmann confirmed that “The menu is any and every action that is needed to strike and take away the capacity of the [drug] trafficking.”
Shortly after signing a decree authorizing the use of the Armed Forces in the state, President Michel Temer commented on the decision. In a video posted on the president’s official Twitter account, he opened the message stating that military employment is supported by the Federal Constitution.
Directing his speech to the residents of Rio de Janeiro, he justified the decree citing the severity of the public security crisis in the state. “The purpose of the mission is to defend the integrity of the population, preserve public order and ensure the functioning of institutions.”
Rio’s Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão said yesterday, that “We are doing a great job of integration. Last night I called President Temer and he promptly answered my request for the Armed Forces.”
“The state will be strengthened in this partnership with the federal forces supporting our [police] in this confrontation. I am sure that with this integration we will be able to fight organized crime more strongly,” said Pezão.
The Armed Forces are already operating in the streets and avenues of Rio’s Metropolitan Region. From early afternoon, Army soldiers were stationed at strategic points, supported by motorcycles, jeeps and even armored, check-points stopping suspicious cars and inspecting documents.
At the junction of the Linha Vermelha and Rodovia Washington Luiz (BR 040), two vital routes for the metropolitan area, men of the 26th Parachute Infantry Battalion set up a monitoring station to monitor vehicles.
According to the captain who commanded the operation, there is no specific time limit for that mission and at any moment they could be deployed to another location in the city.
Although the road blitz increased traffic congestion, government news reports say the drivers did not appear to be upset and some even honked and waved, demonstrating support for the military.
The National Security Plan operation in Rio de Janeiro will continue until the end of 2018. The last time federal troops were in Rio was before Carnival last year, and before then for the 2016 Olympics and 2014 World Cup.