July 28, 1997


Image of today's outrage

Planning a trip to Brazil? You may want to put it on hold.

Those of us who have spent time in cities like Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo know that, even under the best of circumstances, visitors and residents alike need to be careful.

Gangs of juvenile gangsters from slums have been known to sweep down beaches in Rio and methodically rob everyone. Security in hotels is serious and comprehensive, but still doesn’t stop celebrities like pop singer George Michael from being robbed directly in front of their five-star hotels.

But what if the police just walked away and left the residents of South America’s largest country to the mercy of thieves and criminals?

That nightmare scenario is now playing itself out as police in many of Brazil’s cities are going on strike for higher pay. No surprise there; Brazilian police are poorly paid, and some have not been paid at all for six months. The trouble really started when police in Minas Gerais went on strike recently and obtained a 48 percent pay raise. Their successful strike prompted a rash of strikes across the country.

The Brazilian army has been called in to try to restore order, prompting the bizarre scenario of soldiers fighting gun battles both against thieves and striking policemen.

Shop owners are closing early and hiring additional private security guards. Cities are subject to “undeclared curfews.”

According to social analyst Emir Sader, “This is very serious. The Brazilian state is in crisis.”


Read more about today’s Outrage in the CNN Story.

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