By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – After a meeting with the Attorney General’s Office of Military Justice, the Defense Ministry announced that the armed forces will leave the streets of Rio de Janeiro today (February 22nd), according to government news reports.
With the end of the so-called “Garantia da Lei e da Ordem” (GLO, or Law and Order Guarantee), the military will cease to operate in the cities of Rio de Janeiro, Niterói and São Gonçalo.
When requested by the governor of the state or the Federal District, in exceptional cases, GLO is made to the President of the Republic when there is insufficient public security forces available, in situations such as police force strike action.
According to the ministry, yesterday the military prosecutor sent a document to President Michel Temer recommending that federal troops not stay in Rio state, on the grounds that missions can not be seen as a “simple replacement for ordinary public security activities.”
The understanding is that the armed forces must limit their performance to the “indispensable minimum” in occasions such as this, which distance them from their “typical mission.”
Conor Brady, an Irish expatriate that has lived in Brazil since 2006, and owner of Animamos and Captate, shares his thoughts. “It is a lose-lose situation all round. The cops get paid peanuts, which breeds resentment, which breeds corruption. They have no way out, their families had to ‘strike’ for them.”
Regarding what happens next, Brady felt, “The army leaving is probably a good idea, saves much needed resources, and puts more pressure on the police not to strike during Carnival, which they would be stupid to do, it would become an international issue, they would lose public support 100 percent.”
He added, “[But I think] in the unlikely event they did go on strike, the army could be called in quickly. Nobody caused a stir during the Olympics when the army were around, I think the general rule is that you don’t mess with those guys.”
The director of Português Carioca, Márcia Håberg, originally from Rio, did not feel like the lack of the armed forces would make much difference. “Carnival is never safe anyway, mainly in Zona Sul [South Zone], where the tourists and the wealthy are.”
She adding a warning though, “Now, people need double attention and of course, leave mobiles, credit cards and wallet at home. Cash is the best alternative. Beware during the blocos, where most robberies happen there.”
Defense minister of Brazil, Raul Jungmann, announced Operation Carioca last Tuesday (February 14th), which includes sending 9,000 armed forces to Rio de Janeiro ahead of the Carnival holiday period until February 22nd. At the time it was noted that the operations may be extended.
In contrast, the presence of Army, Navy and Air Force personnel in Espírito Santo will be extended for thirteen days beyond what was expected. Last week, the government had already authorized the stay of the 3,450 soldiers in Operation Capixaba until next Thursday (February 23rd), as not all military police officers went back to work there.
Separately, the federal Ministry of Justice and Public Security authorized Monday (February 20th) the activation of the National Force in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Norte and Sergipe, as part of the Plano Nacional de Segurança Pública (National Public Security Plan).
This activation was initiated in January, amid the crisis in the prison system in different states at the beginning of the year, which had already resulted in the deaths of more than 100 inmates. Among the main focus of the effort are the modernization of the penitentiary system and the collaborated fight against criminal organizations.