Friday one week since a police strike began in the state of Espírito Santo amid fears of widespread disorder and little prospect of a settlement. Members of the 10,000-strong military police walked off the job, demanding pay raises and benefits amounting, in some cases, to more than 50 percent. A round of negotiations Thursday night ended in a stalemate, with Espírito Santo Governor Paulo Hartung calling the job action “illegal and unconstitutional.” Under Brazil’s 1988 Constitution, most strikes by public employees are banned. The state is also limited by a chronic fiscal crisis, and the walkout has led to looting in downtown Vitória, the state capital, as well as sharp increases in armed robberies and murders. According to state officials, there were 121 murders in Vitória over the past week. Normally, the city sees about five murders per week. President Michel Temer has sent 1,800 soldiers into the state, with another 1,200 likely to arrive by the weekend. The soldiers are limited to routine patrols, however. On Friday, Governor Hartung took the unusual step of indicting 703 police officers for malfeasance. Officials said more indictments are likely in the coming days. Meanwhile, today’s press reports indicate that the strike could spread to Rio de Janeiro, where a deep fiscal crisis has caused delays in meeting routine police payrolls.
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