By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The state of Rio de Janeiro will receive support from Brazil’s National Security Force and Federal Highway Police to help local authorities fight the wave of violence seen in the state in last few weeks, according to Rio’s governor, Luiz Fernando Pezão.
Pezão was in Brasilia on Wednesday (May 3rd) to ask Brazil’s President Michel Temer for federal help in dealing with the violence in his state.
“We know of the limitations of the federal government, but the Rio government alone, especially due to our financial crisis, cannot make the entire state secure. Alone we cannot fight the entry of weapons (into the state),” said Pezão in a press release on Wednesday.
According to the governor, Brazil’s Justice Minister, Osmar Serraglio promised that a hundred men from the National Force and a contingent still to be defined by the federal highway police will be sent to reinforce security in the state. Currently 125 men of the National Force are in action in the state.
Serraglio told journalists that President Temer expressed concern about the recent violence in Rio de Janeiro. “The President has asked us to start strategically designing a deeper and more effective action,” added the minister. This is the second time this year, President Temer authorizes federal help for Rio.
Officials also said President Michel Temer has appointed Brazil’s National Public Security Secretary, General Santos Cruz, to travel to Rio de Janeiro and assess the situation closely.
The decision of sending in federal security forces was made after several buses were burned by drug gangs on Tuesday, as well as reports of clashes between drug gangs and police in the past few weeks.
“We know that drug trafficking in Rio has always been very strong, very heavy. We have financial difficulties: at this moment I can not hire more police,” said Pezão.
Adding, “I need to hire 4,000 policemen. We lose about 1,800 policemen a year, between dead and those who are discharged. That’s why I need the help of the federal government.”