RIO DE JANEIRO – Hundreds of troops were patrolling the streets of the Brazilian metropolis of Rio de Janeiro on Saturday after President Michel Temer authorized the deployment of more than 9,000 soldiers and federal law-enforcement officers to help combat a surge in violent crime.
Military vehicles and heavily armed soldiers were visible at emblematic spots in the city such as Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Flamengo Park and Avenida Brasil.
The federal contingent comprises 8,500 military personnel, 620 members of the elite National Security Force and 380 officers of the Federal Highway Police.
Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said that in a second stage of the operation troops would expand their action from patrolling the streets to striking at organized crime gangs and disenabling their operational capacity.
Rio de Janeiro Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao requested the military deployment amid a severe fiscal and security crisis in the state.
The surge in violence in recent months in the city coincides with a serious economic crisis that forced the state to declare a financial emergency in mid-2016, just prior to the start of the Rio Olympics.
Spending cuts stemming from the state’s fiscal crisis have led to a reduction in police overtime pay and prevented the hiring of new officers.