By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – At least 28 cities in the state of Espírito Santo are cancelling their Carnival festivities with officials claiming a lack of police protection for partygoers. State residents have faced looting and violence for the past eighteen days due to the absence of patrolling by military police officers.
The Carnival cancellations have happened despite the federal government extending the stay of the Armed Forces in the state for another two weeks, according to government news sources.
“The measure is due to the crisis experienced by public security in the state, which makes the full security of residents and tourists impossible during the Carnival of 2017,” says the press statement released by officials in the coastal town of Piúma, very popular with tourists this time of year.
The mayor of the town of Anchieta, Fabrício Petrit, issued a similar note saying that the city would be cancelling Carnival festivities due to the lack of security. “We ask for the understanding of all and we expect the immediate resolution of this crisis that affects the safety of our families.”
In the first ten days of the walkout of military police officers in the state at least 147 violent deaths were reported along with hundreds of reports of looting and destruction of public transportation and retail stores.
With the rapid deterioration of the situation Brazil’s federal government on February 6th sent in the Armed Forces to patrol the streets of Vitoria, the capital of Espírito Santo . The soldiers were able to control the violence but the state remained on alert as security agents in other parts of the state started to walk out.
Late on Tuesday, February 21st the Brazilian government announced that it was pulling out the Armed Forces from the streets of Rio de Janeiro, which also registered disturbances, but maintaining the forces in the state of Espírito Santo .
According to Brazil’s Defense Minister, Raul Jungmann, the decision to keep the Armed Force presence in Espirito Santo but not in Rio de Janeiro is because in Espírito Santo approximately thirty percent of police officers have not returned to work, while in Rio most of the force is back at their posts.
“In Espírito Santo, the deteriorating situation of public security is evident. Therefore, we will renew the GLO (Law and Order Guarantee). I talked to advisors and decided that another thirteen days will be needed,” the minister said according to his press office.