By Patrick Eccles-Williams, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Following a police strike last week in the Bahian capital of Salvador, the leader of the police and firefighters union (Aspra), Marco Prisco, has been arrested. Over the course of the three day strike crime levels soared in the city, which is due to host six games in this year’s World Cup, and the armed forces were sent to establish security in the state.
The strike action started on Tuesday, April 15th, and was eventually called off by the labor union after three days. The ending of the strike coincided with many of Marco Prisco’s claims for improvements to the military police in Salvador being agreed to. The president of Aspra stated that “nearly all of the demands were met.”
The military police in Salvador will reportedly receive an increase in their basic salary and in addition to that, there will be a rise in the bonuses for those who incur risks to their lives in carrying out their job. The Condicão Especial de Trabalho (exceptional working conditions) benefit will rise from seventeen percent to 25 percent (of the regular salary) for administrative workers, seventeen percent to forty percent for officers working on the street, and 25 percent to sixty percent for drivers.
However in the last week there has been a surge in crime in the city and the surrounding metropolitan area. Between Friday, April 18th and Sunday, April 20th, there was a 57 percent increase in homicides and 44 people were killed, while during the strike itself sixty people were killed in a similar three day period. In total 104 people were killed in under a week.
The soldiers and elite federal police troops arrived in Salvador last Wednesday, a day after the strike had begun. The Governor of Bahia, Jaques Wagner, says that 5,000 troops were deployed in an attempt to deal with the situation.
What is more, Wagner has stated that the soldiers will remain in Salvador as part of the Garantia da Lei e da Ordem (GLO, Guarantee of Law and Order), a policy that is designed to protect the safety of the public in Salvador. “Although the police have decided to end the strike, the governor of Bahia wants to wait until the state returns to normal,” the ministry said in a statement.
Marco Prisco is currently being held in Brasília after his arrest on April 18th. Fábio Brito, vice-president of Aspra, said the “arrest is pointless […] he is an elected councilor, he should be under house arrest or in the Chamber of Councillors, and not in a maximum security prison … It is a farce.”
The warrant for his arrest had been created after the Ministério Público Federal da Bahia (MPF/BA) denounced Prisco’s actions and called for a preventative measure against any future actions. In the past they accused Prisco and six other individuals for threatening the security of the state during another strike just before Carnival in 2012.
Earlier last week federal police officers in Rio de Janeiro staged protests on Copacabana Beach and threatened to also strike during the World Cup if their working conditions were not improved. The FIFA World Cup tournament will be held in twelve cities across the county, and runs from June 12th to July 13th.