VITORIA, Brazil – Nearly 90 people have been murdered in Brazil’s Espirito Santo state since last weekend, when militarized police walked off the job to press for better pay and working conditions, police union leaders said on Wednesday.
Twelve people have died in the past 12 hours, raising the death toll since the strike started on Saturday to 87, the Espirito Santo Civilian Police Union, which does not back the strike by the militarized cops, said.
The state Public Safety Secretariat has not commented on the figures provided by the union, which said the body count continues to go up even though army troops were deployed in the streets of Vitoria, the state capital.
Striking officers’ relatives and union leaders have called for a meeting with Gov. Paulo Cesar Hartung following the collapse of talks Tuesday with state lawmakers.
On Tuesday, pro- and anti-police protesters clashed in several cities in Espirito Santo, and soldiers used tear gas to break up a protest in Vitoria.
Brazil, like many Latin American countries, divides the tasks of law enforcement among multiple agencies. Each of the country’s 27 states has both a militarized police force – responsible for law and order – and a civilian agency that investigates crimes.
Members of the militarized police have the legal status of soldiers and, as such, are banned from taking part in strikes or protests.
The strikers’ families are surrounding the militarized police barracks to stop them from reporting for duty.
The disgruntled militarized police officers say they want to see more money devoted to crime fighting, as well as pay increases for themselves.