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Brazil: Bahia's Failed Strike Taught Policemen They Cannot Terrorize and Blackmail Anymore PDF Print E-mail
2012 - February 2012
Written by Max Bono   
Friday, 10 February 2012 02:57

Police on strike leave Legislative Assembly "I am going to burn cars, I am going to burn trucks and shut the access of the Rio-Bahia road, a federal road." "Shut the access my brother. Shut the BR". This conversation shown on Brazilian national TV did not take place between criminals but between policemen, between a policeman and  Marco Prisco, the head of Bahia's police trade union.

This intervention by Rede Globo, Brazil's main TV network, was decisive to end the strike. Why? Because it showed what I  have been writing for a long time during the uprising: this fight was not about money but about power. The power of force. 

Once it was seen on TV that the leaders were terrorists, the potential popular support to the strike vanished all at a sudden. And that effectively legitimated an assault of the Army on the policemen under siege.

Nobody was protecting them any more. At that point the only sensitive thing to do not to be killed was to surrender. And that is what happened.

Wednesday, 6:30 in the morning, the strike of the military police under siege occupying the Legislative Assembly ended. Mr, Prisco was arrested and others terrorists like him will be too.

The strategy of using terror to win the uprising against the Government of Bahia failed entirely. The truth? Mr. Prisco and his followers at the beginning of the uprising must have thought: "They (the government of Bahia) have to do what we say. We have the weapons. We shut the streets. We do terrorism. We, not the politicians, give orders here in Bahia. Why? Because we have the pistols, machine-guns. And if they do not obey we are going to use them".

A typical  dictatorship mentality, which is still present among some military police in Brazil, especially in the Northeast. Not all the military policemen think that way and certainly fewer of them think like that today.

The governor of Bahia risked seriously to lose control of the situation but he was right not to accept the blackmail and carry on. He won. The military police lost as it will receive a pay raise in line with the other public civil servants.

The military police would have received it anyway with or without the strike. Their leaders have been arrested. But the main result of the failed coup is that the military police lost its power of threatening the society. The are not above the law. They cannot terrorize the society and get away with it. This is a great victory for the Brazilian democracy.

Strikes are legitimate and should be allowed. But using terror against the population and children as human shields is a repulsive attitude. The military police thought they could do anything. They cannot and now they know it. They are part of a democratic society and have to adapt to it. Brazil is freer today.

At the same time, today, the Brazilian press will be grieving the defeat of the uprising. Let's not forget the truth once again. Very few papers gave a truthful picture of what happened during the uprising. Now it is easy to celebrate.

But during the military coup attempt only few of us journalists talked about human shields, terrorism acts and fight for the power and not for the money. We even risked serious retaliation during this short but cruel war with about 150 deaths. But we were right to say the truth to our reader.

Max Bono is an investigative journalist traveling in Brazil.  You can contact him at

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Comments (2)Add Comment
Advocacy Journalism
written by adrianerik, February 11, 2012
I can now see why Mr. Bono's articles make people cringe when they read them. I've written articles as an advocate and perhaps may have placed the 'facts' in footnotes rather than as a basis for the article.

However, I personally find little that I disagree with in the article. ((of course "personally" - I'm the only person writing but...but...but I have to be 'politically correct on this site').

I think that Bono uses "colorful" language to say what my friends in Brazil know and are saying everyday.

(See! Now I give support to my argument because I brought other Brazilians into the picture.)

Rather, folks here will say "impunidade", "pais disgovernada", "city disgovernada", "falta de respeito", etc.

Bono says "rebellion", "terrorism and get away with it", "uprising", etc.

In truth, Bono's words could be used to describe nearly any organized group of substance and power who actively challenges the government (and by extension, challenges society) to achieve its aims.

It's only a matter of whose side you advocate that determines who receives the label of "terrorist" and who receives the label of "freedom fighter".
A Victory For All Brazil
written by Lloyd Cata, March 06, 2012
My sincere congratulations to the government of Bahia, and the people of Brazil. This is an important victory for all Brazilian society.

The media has long know, understood, and covered for this thuggery and gangsterism on the part of military police throughout Brazil. Journalist who would report such lawlessness are routinely killed by the very people for whom they should be afforded protection.

Many things in Brazil would change for the better with a force dedicated and "answerable" to The Law. Perhaps the veil of immunity will be lifted in other areas of Brazil, and more "terrorists" will answer to Justice.

Bravo Bahia, Bravo Brazil

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