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By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian President Michel Temer authorized the use of the Armed Forces in Rio de Janeiro to assist police in patrolling the streets due to the mobilization of families of military police officers who have blocked off some of the battalion entrances, not allowing officers to leave or enter.

Brazil,Protest by families of military officers outside one of Rio de Janeiro's battalion buildings,
Protest by families of military officers outside one of Rio de Janeiro’s battalion buildings, photo by Tomaz Silva/Agência Brasil.

The decision came after Temer met on Monday morning with Rio de Janeiro governor Luiz Fernando Pezão. The governor asked for federal troops ‘due to the enormous volume of visitors expected to arrive in the coming weeks for Carnival’.

“More than 97 percent of all military police officers were on duty during the past few days. They were kept busy with a Flamengo [soccer] game, beaches full and more than forty Carnival bloc on the streets,” said Pezão to journalists on Monday trying to downplay the protests. “I asked the President for reinforcements because it is a time when the city is very crowded.”

According to the governor the armed forces should remain in the region until after the Carnival holiday. However, according to the decree published in the Official Registry on Tuesday, the troops are scheduled to remain in the city from February 14th until 22nd. Carnival this year starts on Friday, February 24th and extends until Tuesday, February 28th.

The demonstration currently occurring in Rio de Janeiro is similar to a movement carried out in Vitoria, Espírito Santo a week ago. Military battalion commanders in Rio de Janeiro admitted to local news media that there was some difficulties by officers in leaving for work in 30 of the 100 battalions located around the city.

The families in Rio de Janeiro demand payment of the officers’ 2016 Christmas bonus, usually given out by December 20th of each year. City officials have declared that the overdue bonuses will be paid by Tuesday, February 14th.

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