By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Despite the reassurances by the state government that wages would be paid with the aid sent by the federal government for security in Rio, tourists arriving at the Tom Jobim International Airport on Monday morning were once again greeted with a sign stating “Welcome to Hell”. This is the second time police officers and firemen have protested at the airport in recent weeks.
Off-duty police officers were once again protesting at Rio’s airport and warning visitors that those who venture out to the city ‘are not safe’. Outside the main arrival terminal protesters also spread on the floor dummies to represent police officers and firemen killed or wounded in the line of duty.
According to officers their wages have not been paid and they complain about the dangers of the job. “How can a city which does not have security host the Games? For the Olympics [they] give everything, for us – nothing,” firefighter Vanderlei Duarte, of the SOS Bombeiros was quoted as saying by daily Estado de S. Paulo.
Two weeks ago Rio de Janeiro’s Governor, Francisco Dornelles, declared a financial emergency in the state stating that without federal aid state would not be able to comply with all of its obligations during the Olympic and Paralympic events.
Pressured, Brazil’s federal government authorized a R$2.9 billion-worth (approximately US$900 million) aid package to the state to help pay for security during the events.
After receiving the news that the federal government would disburse the aid as quickly as possible, Dornelles told local media that the first priority was to settle the backpay with police officers and firefighters.
“Our primary commitment is to those who server. So let us start using the resources for them. I once again thank President Temer and his team for their support so that we can accomplish a great Olympics and security for all,” said Dornelles.
Officials also announced additional security measures including Marine personnel at Copacabana Beach and extra security at airports during the competitions.