Riding the “Purge”-like wave of violence in Espírito Santo, word spread of a similar police strike in Rio. Dozens of groups on WhatsApp and Facebook among the police community communicated a strike on Friday. Rio’s police still haven’t received their Christmas bonus, overtime or performance pay from 2015.
A document circulated among regional batallions with the details of the strike using the official military police letterhead. Like in Espírito Santo, family members would arrive early at the police stations to block cars from leaving for patrol. However, the official Facebook page for the Rio military police republished the note, declaring it a false alarm. See the full post and photos of the fake document here.
Moreover, the entity emphasized the severe impact such action would have on public security. In a separate post, the police association ackowledged the legitimacy of protest in their situation, but called on members to “find a better way to claim our rights”.
The post reads, “It is necessary to think of how the impact of our absence will fall on our own shoulders, on our families. Our absence would cause incalculable and irreparable harm... Paralyzing an essential service affects the entire population, including our own families. Who wants such barbarity?”
By the sound of it, the wave of violence in Espírito Santo really put things into perspective for Rio’s police force. And it wasn’t just law enforcement who feared such drastic consequences, but the government as well.
The day after Tuesday’s false police strike, Rio’s governor announced he would finally be issuing police salaries. And with an increase, at that. Governor Luiz Fernando Pezão (PMDB) promised to pay police salaries with a 10.22 percent increase by February 14th. In addition, military police and firefighters will see a 7.65 percent wage increase, while security and prison guards get a 3.24 percent increase.
Although the wage increases were already negotiated back in 2014, Pezão tried to suspend it last year in an attempt to cut public costs. Rio, of course, has been desperately slashing its budget since it declared a state of financial calamity last June. But violent protests by public servants halted any salary adjustments. And the latest rumor of a police strike left Pezão not wanting to take any chances.
However, this wage increase may well be one of the governor’s last policies. The Electoral Court impeached both him and his deputy, Francisco Dornelles, soon after the announcement. Electoral prosecutors accused the pair of omitting 10 million BRL in expenses on their financial accounts. Shady campaign funding is fairly standard in Brazil, but this is the first time a governor has been impeached in Brazil. Pezão may appeal the decision and stay in office, but either way things aren’t looking good for his government.