By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Concerned about the recent deaths of ten pre-candidates planning to run in the October municipal elections in Rio de Janeiro, the state’s Regional Electoral Prosecutor has asked that the armed forces patrol the city and especially the area known as Baixada Fluminense to ensure security to voters and candidates during elections this year.
“What we see today on the streets is a climate of uncertainty and insecurity of the population. We want to avoid what happened in the last two elections, especially in 2014, where we saw the power of the militia, preventing candidates from campaigning in communities, and at the same time, coercing and threatening people into voting for their candidates,” Prosecutor Sidney Madruga told a government news source.
Madruga has also asked the federal police to look into the deaths of the pre-candidates to see if there is a connection between their murders and the October elections.
For the prosecutors, the armed forces should not be patrolling only the richer, Zona Sul (South Zone) area of Rio, but be stationed in areas where electoral violence is more common.
“We are asking them [armed forces] to be present in the poorer areas of the state of Rio de Janeiro, in the Baixada Fluminense, where there have been reports of armed paramilitary activity. We do not want the armed forces at the beaches in Zona Sul,” said Madruga.
With the recent financial troubles facing the state, there have been protests by police officers, who threaten to stay home instead of patrolling the streets if their salaries are not paid. Although federal aid has been allocated to pay late salaries, thus guaranteeing security for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, there are fears that after the Games are over the state will once again delay wage payments and police officers will strike.