Rio de Janeiro police strike threatens Carnival festivities, then fizzles

rio police strikeA police strike in Rio de Janeiro just a week before Carnival threatened to wreak mass chaos upon Brazil‘s largest festival celebration. But just one day in, Rio’s state government announced that the strike had “failed”, with just a small percentage of officers taking part.

“It is very difficult to talk of a protest movement without participants,” said Chao Francisco, union president for the civilian police in Rio, reported the AFP.

The strike, which involved military police, civilian police, and firefighters, was intended to bring attention to low wages and came on the heels of a deadly 11-day police strike in Bahia. Residents feared that a Rio police strike would lead to similar violence, during a time when millions flood the streets in celebration.

After the strike was announced on Friday, the Rio city government quickly clamped down on organizers, arresting 17 police officers and threatening disciplinary action against hundreds of others associated with the walk-off. In Brazil, it is against the law for police officers and firefighters to unionize and strike.

With Rio hosting the upcoming 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, all eyes are on the city to ensure that city officials can handle major events like Carnival, which officially kicks off on February 17th. The city has 14,000 soldiers on stand-by.

[via AFP and CBS News, Flickr image via JorgeBrazil]