Reinforcements sent to Brazil’s Rio Grande do Norte
December 27, 2017
After prison officers and police went on strike, on 21 December, Brazil's federal government deployed an additional 70 troops from the armed forces to strengthen public security in the state of Rio Grande do Norte.
Significance: Rio Grande do Norte is grappling with a financial crisis, meaning that public workers have not received their salaries on time. This has led to a general strike affecting the civil police, the military police, and prison officers. In the state capital, Natal, local residents have been advised to stay indoors and many local businesses have closed.
The federal defence minister, Raul Jungmann, and the federal justice minister, Torquato Jardim, authorised the deployment of reinforcements to be sent to Rio Grande do Norte following a meeting with state governor Robinson Faria. They join another 120 members of the armed forces who have been active in the area following the lethal prison riots this January.
While there is a shortage of security personnel, all visits to local prisons have been suspended to minimise the risk of more riots. Meanwhile, some criminal activity has been reported out on the streets. Three banks have been vandalised and 18 vehicles stolen.
To prevent further incidents, Governor Faria is under pressure to put an end to the strike and confirm when public salaries will be paid. Throughout this year, payments to state employees have been delayed, leading to a mounting sense of frustration, particularly in the run-up to Christmas. Faria said he had secured an additional R$600m (US$181m) from the federal government to process the payments, but some of these may not go through until January next year.
Looking Ahead: Once again, the Brazilian government is relying on soldiers instead of regular police to tackle worsening security, as they have done in other states such as Rio de Janeiro.
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