By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Although there have been reports of demonstrations in at least 27 military police battalions, policing in the state of Rio de Janeiro is deemed normal by security officials, with more than 95 percent of force working.
There had been widespread rumors and information on social media that the families of military police officers were going to promote massive protests in front of police stations and battalions.
The police strike was thought by some to be similar to what has happened in the state of Espirito Santo, where a lack of security presence has lead to widespread violence.
“We have demonstrators at the door of some units. They are in some locations where the situation is more tense, but [all are protesting] in a peaceful way,” said military police spokesperson Major Ivan Blaz in an early morning Globo TV newscast. By 10:30 AM the official reported the percentage of military police patrolling the streets was at 95 percent.
Yet according to a twenty-year veteran of the military police force in Rio de Janeiro, who spoke exclusively to The Rio Times with the promise he would remain anonymous, the movement will increase in the coming days. “The strike exists but is not as strong as we thought it was going to be. The women [wives] are the ones protesting in front of some battalions,” said the source.
Local news media reported that although a great majority of battalions and police stations were working normally, there were a few locations, like the battalions in Jacarepagua and Olaria where officers were finding it difficult to leave with their vehicles due to blockage from protesters.
With several posts being placed in social media during the last few days, confirming the demonstrations, the heads of the Rio de Janeiro Military Police made a public plea for further negotiations instead of action.
“Only we know the true of day-to-day reality of policing. However, it is necessary to think that the impact of our absence may fall on our shoulders, on our families. Our failure would cause incalculable and irreparable harm,” say officials in their webpage.
“We admit we are facing a very delicate moment, but we must evaluate the consequences of our actions. Protests are legitimate, but we must seek the best way to claim our rights. Paralyzing an essential service affects the entire population, including our families,” concludes the entity.
Police strikes are not uncommon in Brazil, with military police, civil police and firefighters in Rio de Janeiro going on strike before Carnival in 2012. Also federal and state police went on strike before the 2014 World Cup.