By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The security program for this year’s Carnival will have 3,000 fewer military police officers, according to the Rio de Janeiro Military Police (PMRJ). With no funds to pay overtime, which has been delayed since August 2016, the police force will provide 12,000 officers during the Carnival holiday.
After the withdrawal of national armed forces earlier this week, the Brazilian Hotel Industry Association – Rio de Janeiro Section (ABHI-RJ) complained of the feeling of insecurity and sent a letter to the Defense Ministry on Wednesday (February 22nd).
According to military police spokesman Major Ivan Blaz, the lower number of officers on the streets also reflects a reduction in festivities, which is also a result of the economic crisis faced in the country. Braz said, however, that patrolling will be more efficient.
“Our troops have been routinely employed at major events since the Olympics, and that has worn out a lot. We will have Carnival now, we will put our men and women in the streets, we will guarantee security, but we can not saturate the state of Rio because our troops are physically and mentally tired,” he said.
Yesterday, on the eve of the official opening of the Carnival holiday, the state government began to pay overdue overtime. Police officers, however, have not yet received the 13th salary owed from December last year. “We are dealing with economy of efforts,” said the major, justifying the reduction in cash.
Mickaël Couturier, a French expatriate and filmmaker behind MC Films in Rio shares, “[it is] very disappointing indeed but it’s not big news as this as been ongoing since the end of the olympics. [As far as how it will effect] tourism, this is indeed going to impact it as the image of Rio is not getting better abroad.”
When asked about how pervasive the sense of increased crime is in the Rio, he added “There has been a huge increase in assaults since the end of Olympics and it makes me very worried about security in our city.” With a personal story that, “A friend was been assaulted at gun point a couple of weeks ago as she was going to take a Taxi.”
To avoid being the victim of robberies and theft during revelry, the guidance is to avoid distraction. “If you are going to pick up the cell phone in the crowd, look around, try to find a static location, stay with your back near a wall, for example, go with someone else. In the case of money, do not carry a wallet, distribute the money in several pockets and carry only one document,” recommended the major.