Brazil Hit by Mass Robberies, Rapes, and Homicides as Military Police Go On Strike

The situation is so bad it has been compared to The Purge — the film where a perfect society has 12 hours a year where total anarchy reigns and you can do whatever you like.


The state of Espirito Santo in south-east Brazil is in a state of total chaos and anarchy after military police went on strike, protesting over low wages and poor work conditions on February 4.

The murder rate has soared by 650%, more than 100 people have been killed, over 200 robberies have been committed, and an additional 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to halt the unrest, and to stop miscreants from taking advantage of the absence of law and order, creating widespread turmoil and carrying out horrific crimes.

According to Cesar Colnago, the governor of Espírito Santo, more soldiers were arriving to quell the violence and lawlessness that has seized the region, causing about 90 million reais ($29 million) in damages to businesses, including from mass looting of stores.

With the military police strike entering its sixth day, Espírito Santo now resembles a nightmare: thugs are running riot, people running rampant with guns and machetes, shops are being robbed, buses are being set on fire, and dead bodies are being left lying in the street.

Schools have been closed, football matches have been cancelled, medical services are interrupted, and residents are holed up inside their homes as thugs randomly shoot at anyone who passes on the streets in Espírito Santo.

The closure of health services meant there could be no vaccinations for yellow fever in the city, even as Brazil experiences its worst outbreak of the disease since 2000. One resident described the harrowing scenes to Political Outsource:

“I won’t even leave my house today. Things are absolutely crazy, there are people running around with guns in pretty populated areas, dozens of people stealing from malls, even dead bodies on streets.”


Brazil’s Military Police, which patrols the cities in Latin America’s biggest country, is barred by law from going on strike. Consequently, a court has declared the action an illegal strike and the state police chief has been replaced. Colnago told reporters:

“We are taking steps to increase the level of the National Force, which is police, and of the armed forces so that we can have security. People were so fearful of being attacked on the streets that it was as if they were in prison.”

Although the protests in Espirito Santo have paralyzed the military police service, not just in the capital but also in the entire state, André Garcia, the state secretary of public security, says that negotiations with the military police are suspended until they return to patrolling the streets and attending to the lawlessness. Garcia told Globo:

“The first step taken by the government to overthrow this movement was the filing of a lawsuit requiring the illegality of the movement to be enacted. Our intention is to negotiate, always, but this negotiation must be based on mutual respect, and the condition for the police come to patrol the streets and answer the calls of the Capixabas citizens.” 

The strike comes as Brazil grapples with a deep, protracted recession and many states struggle financially. Espírito Santo is one of the many Brazilian states facing massive debt. While public spending functionaries is at 53.5%, over the legal limit of 49%, the state’s liquid debt remains at 25.2%.

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