Wed, Feb 26, 2014 - Page 20 News List

Police to strike over World Cup security

AFP, SAO PAULO, Brazil

Brazil’s federal police said they would stop work yesterday and today to demand better wages and improved security for the World Cup.

“We have reached a critical situation,” Jones Borges Leal, chairman of Brazil’s national federation of federal police, told reporters at a protest in business hub Sao Paulo.

“Tomorrow we are going to stop work throughout the country,” said Borges, whose colleagues say their wages have been frozen for seven years.

“We have a series of activities programmed for the year and hope not to have to bring them to a halt during the World Cup. We hope it doesn’t come to that,” Borges said.

About 100 Brazilian police officers protested on Monday along Sao Paulo’s Avenida Paulista thoroughfare outside a building hosting a local authority seminar on World Cup security.

Sao Paulo is scheduled to host the opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

The protesting officers brandished slogans demanding: “FIFA standard federal police” — alluding to the tough security standards world football’s governing body is demanding for the tournament.

Police say just 30 percent of officers will provide a minimum service during their colleagues’ mini-strike in a country beset by protests in recent months against corruption and the cost of hosting the Cup.

“Brazil’s security system needs reforming,” Borges said.

“We don’t have sufficient resources to guarantee the security of Brazilians, still less of foreign visitors,” he said.

Brazil expects to welcome about 600,000 foreign visitors for the month-long soccer extravaganza.

According to Borges, despite being a continent-sized country, Brazil only has 10,000 federal police nationwide to oversee border and airport security, the safety of public buildings and also issue passports.

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