Brazil: Striking police leave occupied building

Last Updated: Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 23:47

Salvador (Brazil): Striking police officers in
the northeastern city of Salvador on Thursday evacuated the state
legislative building they occupied in protest for more than a
week.

It was not immediately clear, however, whether the
conclusion of the dramatic standoff between the strikers and
1,000 army soldiers and elite federal police officers would
also mark the end of the 10-day-long work stoppage that has
threatened one of the globe`s biggest Carnival celebrations
here.

Army spokesman Marcio Cunha didn`t know whether the
estimated 10,000 striking officers would return to the job,
and some local media reported that negotiations were to
continue.

The strike had sparked an immediate spike in violence
here in Brazil`s third-largest city, with murder rates more
than doubling since it started last Tuesday.

The murders, as well as a rash of shop lootings and
holdups, have scared tourists away from Salvador in the run-up
to the city`s iconic Carnival festivities. State authorities
have been under intense pressure to resolve the strike.

A total of 145 strikers evacuated the building earlier
today, filing out between rows of soldiers surrounding the
building.

An initial group of several dozen men and a handful of
women left the building on foot earlier today, while a steady
stream followed on motorcycles and on cars packed with
blankets and other gear.

They were greeted with cheers by a group of family and
friends, many of whom had camped out on the building`s grounds
for days.

Army spokesman Cunha said the legislature building
appeared to be "dirty but in OK conditions." He declined to
say whether arms had been found in the building or on those
leaving it. The officers had been carrying their work weapons
earlier in the building.

The strike`s head, Marco Prisco, and another top leader
were detained, said Cunha. Under the terms of an agreement
with government negotiators, both were spirited out through a
back entrance, far from the media scrum.

They were taken to a military police facility in Salvador,
Cunha said.

PTI




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