MONTEVIDEO – Uruguay is seeking to guarantee the safety of workers in Montevideo’s Marconi neighborhood, a disadvantaged zone where last week a shootout erupted between police and criminals, with one of the latter being killed, the government said on Monday.
Interior Minister Eduardo Bonomi told reporters that Monday’s Cabinet meeting focused on that situation.
He said that the spark that set off the conflict was a report made to police that a motorbike had been stolen.
Officers spotted a vehicle matching the description of the stolen motorbike and when they tried to stop the driver and his passenger they responded with gunfire, drawing police fire in return.
One of the suspects was killed, while the other – a minor – was wounded, whereupon there was “a very strong response by other criminals in the neighborhood,” who burned a bus, several vehicles and attacked a doctor, Bonomi said.
The incidents transpired over 15-30 minutes, which was the time it took for additional security forces to deploy to the zone and take control of the situation.
In response to the incidents, several health care and education workers decided not to go in to work on Monday.
Bonomi said that the Interior Ministry is holding meetings with the State Health Services Administration, or ASSE, to analyze the situation and determine how to improve local security protocols.
The minister said that the “police are established” in the district.
Regarding those complaining that public safety in Marconi had been ignored by the authorities, Bonomi said that since the beginning of the year the number of police in the zone has been increased, resulting in a drop in violent robberies by 40 percent.
He added that the response against the police in the neighborhood was an attempt to destabilize the area by criminals because of the increased law enforcement presence.
Several arrests were made after the incidents, although so far no charges have been filed against anyone.