Brazil

Brazil police strike leads to mounting violence and 140 murders

Worst recession in decades means state cannot meet demands for pay increases

Soldiers patrol the streets of Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil on Thursday: residents locked themselves in their homes as violence swept through the city after police went on strike. Photograph: Antonio Lacerda/EPA
Soldiers patrol the streets of Vitória, Espírito Santo, Brazil on Thursday: residents locked themselves in their homes as violence swept through the city after police went on strike. Photograph: Antonio Lacerda/EPA

Brazil’s violent start to the year has worsened with a police strike provoking a wave of killings in the southeastern state of Espírito Santo.

Over 140 people have been murdered in the 10 days since uniformed police refused to cross pickets mounted by relatives outside stations. They are demanding a large pay increase following 10 years without one.

The chaos led frightened residents of state capital Vitória to lock themselves in their homes until order was re-established with the gradual return to work of police on Monday.

This latest violence comes after at least 30 people were killed in the Amazonian city of Belém last month following the murder of a police officer. In both Belém and Vitória many of those murdered showed signs of having been summarily executed, raising suspicions they are victims of police death squads.

Also in the first six weeks of the year, over 100 prisoners have been killed in gang related violence within Brazil’s prisons.

With the country still mired in its worst recession in decades, state administrations do not have the money to meet police demands, setting the stage for further protests. Already the industrial action is threatening to spread to…

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