Army Called In as Brazil Police Strike Leads to Unprecedented Crime Wave

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The Brazilian Army has been called in to deal with the crime wave that has resulted from the police strike in the southeastern state of Espirito Santo. (Wikimedia Commons)

Brazil’s southeastern state of Espirito Santo has turned over security duties to the army as it tries to solve a police crisis that has led to a wave of violence and at least 100 deaths.

The decree authorizing the transfer was published Wednesday, Fed. 8, in the state’s official gazette, as schools and businesses closed and public transportation was at a standstill.

Chaos and anarchy spurred by the strike, now in its sixth day, continued in the coastal state to the north of Rio de Janeiro, despite the deployment of 1,200 army soldiers and federal police and the promise that more help was on the way.

Most of the violence was centered in the state capital, Vitória, a wealthy port city ringed by golden beaches, where mining and petroleum industries have a strong base.

State officials said they needed hundreds more federal troops and members of an elite federal police force to help establish order and make up for the 1,800 state police who normally patrol Vitória’s metropolitan area.

The state government has not released an official number for killings since police went on strike on Saturday for better pay, but a spokeswoman for the union representing police told Reuters early on Thursday it had registered 101 homicides since Saturday.

That would be more than six times the state’s average daily homicide rate compared with last year’s data.

The Globo TV network, citing security officials, reported that 200 cars were stolen in Vitória on a single day when the state average is 20.

The state’s retailers association said that businesses have lost $28.87 million since police walked off the job.

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