Urban buses are back to the streets of Brazil’s major city São Paulo today, July 14, after having suffered violent attacks during three nights running and following guarantees of special protection from elected authorities and police forces.
The Military Police command and São Paulo City’s government promised intensified patrolling along public transport main routes plus special plain clothes agents in buses among other measures which were accepted by the private transport associations.
The wave of attacks and violence is blamed on the PCC (First Command of the Capital), a criminal gang organization that operates from inside São Paulo’s penitentiaries and which last May was responsible for dozens of simultaneous uprisings in jails and attacks on police targets which left 170 people dead and paralyzed for two days São Paulo the richest and most populous state in the Brazilian union.
Acoording to São Paulo newspapers, the PCC leaders have given the government an ultimatum in order to force the transfer of 1414 prisoners who are now crowded at the Araraquara penitentiary.
Relatives of the the inmates say that the dealine given by the prison gang is today. In case their demand is not met they vow to murder more police agents and prison wardens.
Security organs have intercepted phones calls in which PCC bosses gave orders to their foot soldiers to attack the infrastructure of the Greater São Paulo. Police believe that the criminals main dream is to show that they can provoke a total blackout in the area, something they have been planning for three years now.
In this second wave attacks on 68 buses -with total losses- have been reported, although transport companies estimate the number to be higher. Tens of other units have suffered shots and stoning.
Until assurances were given late Thursday, 85% of the São Paulo bus fleet remained in their parking lots fearing further attacks. The few buses that did circulate did so in broad light and along main routes. Most commuters went to work walking, on bicycle or with their private cars causing a giant traffic chaos in downtown São Paulo, Brazil’s industrial hub.
Metropolitan São Paulo has a population of over 20 million and buses transport daily 5.5 million commuters.
São Paulo’s Military Police Chief Eliseu Eclair Texeira Borges said that in the first two nights a total of 106 attacks had been reported mostly against buses, followed by banks. Attacks involved the use of firearms plus home made or Molotov bombs, and in some of the targets painted graffiti read "down with jail oppression."
The São Paulo press reports that the three nights running attacks left at least seven people killed, off duty policemen, prison guards and close relatives. Last night a shopping mall was attacked with a homemade bomb, but no one was hurt.