By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – President Michel Temer authorized the sending of 800 police officers to reinforce security in Rio de Janeiro yesterday, July 20th. The government will send 380 men from the Federal Highway Police (PRF) and 420 more soldiers from the National Security Force to Rio by the end of the month.
Authorities say the new contingent will join the two hundred National Force agents who are already in the state, and will now total a thousand officers in all. The military will work in the state for eighteen months in joint operations with the local security forces.
In a meeting in Brasília with the governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando (Bigfoot) Pezão, and government security ministers, among them Raul Jungmann of Defense, Temer has determined that all spheres of the Union, including the intelligence area, should cooperate as defined in the National Security Plan.
Governor Pezão temporarily interrupted a week’s medical leave to attend the meeting, and told the press after, “The addition of more than 380 Federal Highway Patrol men patrolling, what is already in place, helps a lot. Rio’s biggest problem is the entry of weapons and drugs that are not manufactured in Rio.”
He added, “We already have numbers that show that, from one month to the other, cargo theft, which is a crisis in Rio de Janeiro, has already fallen about twelve percent with the integration actions,” said the governor.
However Julia Michaels, an American expatriate, author and the journalist behind Rio Real Blog lives in Ipanema and told The Rio Times, “So far I don’t think we’ve felt the impact of having the additional police on the streets, […] but yes I think that it would make a difference, definitely.”
According to the minister of the Office of Institutional Security of the Presidency, Sérgio Etchegoyen, the plan will be applied throughout the country’s borders, but at the moment the effort will be concentrated in Rio to combat crime. The interim Minister of Justice, José Levi, explained that the idea is to repeat the integrated action performed at major events such as the Olympics.
This announcement comes just a week after a report by the National Confederation of Goods, Services and Tourism (CNC), showed that because of crime, tourism in the state lost R$320 million in revenues in the first four months of 2017. The amount is equivalent to 42 percent of total sector revenue loss registered between January and April in Brazil.
“Although other factors directly related to the economic situation also help to explain the fall in activity in tourism in Rio de Janeiro, undoubtedly, the increase in crime in Rio de Janeiro has contributed greatly to aggravate the loss [in] this sector in the state,” says CNC economist Fabio Bentes.