Brazilian police conclude strike before Rio carnival

Brazilian police conclude strike before Rio carnival

SAO PAULO - Reuters
Brazilian police conclude strike before Rio carnival

Revelers attend a samba parade during pre-carnival festivities in Rio de Janeiro Feb 11. A police walkout raised security concerns ahead of the traditional event. REUTERS photo

Police in Brazil’s Bahia state voted on Feb. 11 to end a strike that unleashed a crime wave claiming more than 150 lives, raising hopes for peaceful carnival celebrations but leaving concerns about security ahead of the 2014 World Cup.

The last holdouts among Bahia’s military police agreed to give up their walkout, state spokesman Robinson Almeida told Reuters, after 11 days of looting, assaults and vandalism in Brazil’s third-largest city. Fears of the violence spreading also eased in Rio de Janeiro after a police strike there showed signs of flagging in its second day. Rio’s civil police, one branch of striking security forces, agreed on Feb. 11 to suspend their walkout, according to state news service Agencia Brasil.

The news brought relief just one week before Rio’s famous carnival celebrations and allowed for a peaceful start to hundreds of the city’s informal street parades, known as blocos. As many as 850,000 tourists are expected to hit the beaches and palm-tree lined promenades of Brazil’s second-biggest city for the festivities, which officially run from Feb. 17 to Feb. 22.

Concerns over World Cup

Still, the episode renews concerns that Brazil, eager to show off its growing prosperity during the World Cup two years from now, is ill-equipped to provide the

security needed in the 12 cities selected as venues for the soccer games, including Rio and Salvador. Rio will also play host to the 2016 Olympics.

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