By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Just days before Carnival in Rio, Polícia Militar (Military Police) and firefighters decided late on Monday to suspend the strike, which began last Thursday. Representatives of the movement said they will now focus on the release of 27 prisoners held at Bangu 1 prison.
This follows Saturday night’s announcement from Sindpol, the civil police union, that the civil police in Rio would be suspending their strike action temporarily.
The spokesmen say the imprisoned police should fulfill any incarceration at their headquarters or with the armed forces. According to representatives, until yesterday, prisoners had been held without contact from relatives or lawyers.
Matias Ana Paula, wife of Sergeant Mathias, who is imprisoned in Bangu, read a statement announcing the end of the strike and stating that the fight is now for the release of the men who are prisoners.
“Our struggle for the dignity of men who risk their lives for the people who receive the worst salary in Brazil continues. The fight is not over pay for dignity, but dignity,” she said.
“Keeping these men arrested in Bangu 1 is against the Constitution.” The statement also says that there is no strike, because the group “never failed to serve the people.”
The strike started with demands including a basic rate salary increase to R$3,500, and the release of Corporal firefighter Benevenuto Dalciolo, who was arrested on Wednesday night as he flew in from Salvador, where he had been taking part in the strikes in Bahia.
Rio Governor Sérgio Cabral referred to the strike action as “unsuccessful”, saying that the “overwhelming majority” of police and firefighters had seen their responsibility to the state’s 16 million residents, and the city’s visitors, as more important.
The strike has been suspended just before Rio hosts the country’s largest Carnival festival, expecting an estimated 850,000 tourists. The event brings more than R$1.1 billion into the state economy, according to the Department of Economic Development, Energy, Industry and Services.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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