Latin America & Caribbean

Brazil police strike: Schools reopen in Vitoria

An air force soldier in a helicopter takes part in a patrol during a military police strike over wages, along Costa beach in Vila Velha, Espirito Santo, Brazil, February 11, 2017 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The air force sent helicopters to help patrol cities in Espirito Santo

Schools reopened in the Brazilian state of Espirito Santo on Monday 10 days after military police went on strike setting off a wave of violence in the state and its capital, Vitoria.

Public transport also resumed and health centres, which had closed for fear of violence, opened their doors.

During the strike more than 140 people were killed in Vitoria and its environs, police union figures suggest.

After talks with officials, some of the officers are now back on duty.

They are demanding higher salaries and extra benefits such as danger money and higher night allowances, arguing that they are paid far less than colleagues in other states.

Easing of tension

Members of the military police are constitutionally banned from protesting or striking so their relatives and friends physically blocked access to the barracks instead.

Brazilian President Michel Temer described the move as "an insurgency against the constitution" and said his government would draft legislation to prevent any future protests.

Since the strike started, the state's crime figures have rocketed, with locals reporting a rise in car thefts, lootings and murders.

More than 3,000 federal troops were sent to the state to restore order but residents complained that many of them seemed to lack the local knowledge needed to ensure safety.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Buses stayed in their garages while the strike was at its height

Following negotiations between union and government officials, about 900 officers returned to work at the weekend.

But the wives of military police officers, who have been at the forefront of the protests, said they had not been included in the negotiations and refused to lift their blockades.

Nevertheless, residents reported tension in Vitoria easing somewhat, with more people venturing out on the streets as bus services resumed and shops reopened.

More on this story