By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Senate gave final approval late on Tuesday, February 20th to a measure that authorizes the federal government to intervene in security in the crime-prone state of Rio de Janeiro. With 55 votes in favor, 13 against, and one abstention the bill authorizes Brazil’s Military to run Rio’s security through the end of 2018.

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Approved in the Senate, federal intervention in Rio de Janeiro comes into force until December 31, 2018, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil).

With the final approval in the Senate, the bill, signed by President Michel Temer last Friday, February 17th, will be broadcast on Brazil’s Federal Official Gazette by the National Congress’ President, Senator Eunício Oliveira (Movimento Democrático Brasileiro party) – who abstained from voting last night.

Once the decree is enforced, Rio’s governor Luiz Fernando Pezão hands over the management of Rio’s public security to the Army’s General Walter Braga Netto, Commander of Brazil’s East Military Forces.

Until December 31, 2018, the designated commander will be in charge of all of Rio’s security institutions: the Public Security Bureau, the Military and Civil Police, the Fire Department and Rio’s Penitentiary System.

Additionally, the bill foresees that General Walter Souza Braga Netto, head of the Eastern Military Command will be subordinated to the President of the Republic, and will not be subjected to Rio’s State norms that eventually collide with the military intervention measures. Also, the Commander is allowed to request the necessary financial, technological, structural and human resources in order to achieve the goals of the intervention.

The session’s opening, at 8:30 PM, was marked by the controversial speeches of Senators Lindbergh Farias (PT party) and Randolfe Rodrigues (Rede party), having both presented points of order against the decree.

According to Rodrigues, the decree would be violating the constitutional order and the human rights. For Senator Farias, the bill would present a negative budgetary and financial impact, which would lead to serious financial issues. Both points of order were denied by the Congress President.

Senator Marta Suplicy (MDB party), on the other hand, argued that the military intervention in Rio would be a key measure to address Rio’s calamitous state of violence: “it is absolutely necessary because, as Rio’s authorities acknowledged this Carnival, there is an absolute misruling scenario in the State,” she supported.

In agreement, Senator Lasier Martins (PSD party) claimed Rio’s government is unable to solve its violence situation: “If the governor says he does not have competence to address this problem, it is necessary that someone intervenes,” he stated.

With the legislative decree 9.288/2018, Brazil lives its first military intervention in a federative unit since 1988, when the current Federal Constitution was enforced.

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