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In Bahia, Brazil, Politicians Revenge Is Also Best Served Cold

Marco PriscoMarco Prisco was getting tanned in the sunshine in the wonderful resort in Costa de Sauípe. Life was wonderful. He was the most powerful man in Bahia state, in the Brazilian Northeast.

He was able to end the strike of the military police in the state. In just a couple of days. there were more than 40 deaths, but that was peanuts compared with over 200 deaths in 2012.

At that time Prisco was the headmaster of the police strike. He was behind the upraising then. Nobody has really forgotten what he said in the Brazilian Rede Globo, two years ago.

“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 the Brazilian national TV did not take place between criminals but between policemen and Marco Prisco, the head of Bahia’s police trade union.

That happened two years ago. But now in 2014 things changed. Prisco has become a politician. After the end of the 2012 strike, he was arrested. But then he was released and then elected as a councilman to the municipality of Salvador, for the PSDB party.

But who is Prisco and how did he behave in the past? This is what I wrote two years ago just to give an idea of this guy:

“The strategy of using terror to win the uprising against the Government of Bahia failed entirely in 2012. 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 blackmail. He won. The military police lost as they will receive a pay raise in line with the other public civil servants.”

Prisco was available to do whatever it was necessary to win the game in 2012. To play dirty too. No problem.

But when the new strike exploded a few days ago, Prisco was on the other side. He was the official negotiator for the governor of the state of Bahia, Jacques Wagner.

This time the approach to the strike was entirely different from the past. Why?

Let’s go back to what I wrote two years ago: “The governor of Bahia, Jaques Wagner, is the most anxious one in this situation. He is a very smart politician and a very successful man, but his entire political carrier is at stake now. His entourage underestimated the seriousness of the situation. Now it is too late for recriminations”.

“Not this time, my dear”, Wagner must have thought. The governor of Bahia acted immediately. And Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil  too. The Army was sent immediately to Bahia. In just two days soldiers were in the streets after riots were causing hellish scenes all over Bahia state.

Why? Because Wagner had a special consulting specialist on the issue. Who? Marco Prisco of course. Prisco must have told Wagner what to do. At the end of the day Prisco knew exactly how to suppress the riot. Call the Army immediately.

That was the only way. Who knew this better than Prisco himself who lost the game because of the intervention of the Army two years ago?

Anyway, Wagner did just that and in two days the strike of the military police was over. Unbelievable, considering that two years ago

it took more than a month to see the end of it.

Let’s go back to Prisco tanning in the splendid resort in Bahia. “Who is better than me?” must have thought Prisco. And he must have thought about what happened when the end of the strike was officially announced. A total defeat for the military police.

But a great win for Prisco who managed to end it so swiftly. But there was a but. Maybe something in the role of Prisco mediation in this year’s strike must have left somebody unhappy. Maybe he asked something for his mediation. Whatever happened yesterday it is amazing what happened today.

All of a sudden, the day after the end of the strike, Prisco was arrested by the Federal Police for his role in the 2012 strike of the military police. Why now?

Well we do not know. But we know that Wagner is a close friend of president Rousseff and she has influence over the Federal police. Maybe it is not a coincidence that just after the end of the strike Prisco was detained and taken to Brasilia. Immediately.

Prisco is a very shrewd man. But Bahian politicians are smart too. And they have the power. Maybe Prisco underestimated Bahian politicians. “I am the master of universe”, he was thinking.

And now he has been taken to an undisclosed place (maybe Papuda prison) and taken to prison for 90 days for being “a serious risk to

public order”.

Well my reader this is Brazil. One day you are the master of the universe and the next day you are in jail and with no chance to get out.

What is the lesson? When you deal with Brazilian politicians be careful. Yes they might be very polite and nice. But if you upset them, when the situation gets calm you might end up in jail.

Politicians run the game in Brazil, never forget that my dear Marco, somebody at high level must have thought in Salvador, Bahia.

Max Bono is an investigative journalist traveling in Brazil.  You can contact him at researchinrio@yahoo.com.

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