Flávia Villela Reporter Agência Brasil
Rio de Janeiro – As they say in Portuguese, this is a very old movie (“este filme já vi!”).
The recent attempt to go on strike by police and firemen in Rio de Janeiro was snapped in the bud, so to speak, when 27 leaders of the strike movement (“incitarem a paralisação da categoria”) were arrested and incarcerated in a Fire Department prison (“Grupamento Especial Prisional do Corpo de Bombeiros”).
The principal leader of the movement, corporal Daciolo, a fireman, was the first to be arrested, on February 9, when he flew into Rio from Salvador, Bahia, where he was involved in a strike that lasted over 12 days and saw a surge in crime (investigations are underway into reports that about a third of the murders in Salvador during the strike may have been committed by extermination squads led by policemen – the victims in these cases were all shot in the head).
Telephone conversations recorded by the police showed that Daciolo [calling from Salvador to police and firemen in Rio, as well as a state representative] was on his way to Rio to start (“orquestrar”) a strike similar to the one in Salvador.
Last week, after the 27 arrests were made (17 PMs and 10 firemen), the Rio strike collapsed. What is happening at this time, following the movie script, is that courts have issued writs of habeas corpus for all the arrested, including Daciolo, and they are leaving jail.
The movie plays out like this: there is either a strike or an attempt to go on strike, followed by arrests, followed by habeas corpus and, finally, an amnesty for those involved. And then another strike or attempted strike. The result is that nowadays in Brazil there is a threat of law enforcement agents walking off the job somewhere in the country at any moment.
Daciolo, the fireman, for example, has been involved in strikes since 2001. Just last year, in 2011, he was arrested along with 400 other firemen after they invaded the Fire Department headquarters in Rio during a strike. Later, he and the other 400 firemen were all released.
Although the Brazilian constitution prohibits strikes by military personnel and the police and firemen are the Military Police and the Military Firemen Corps (“Policia Militar” and “Corpo Militar de Bombeiros”), there is a legal dispute over whether or not they are really “military personnel.”
Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English – content modified