More on the Brazilian Police Strike

February 11, 2012

I wrote at some length yesterday of the police strike that has hit Bahia and Rio de Janeiro and that may or may not spread throughout the country. Though I alluded in the narrow sense to the impact of economic inequalities combined with macroeconomic success on the police strike, Rio Real takes this type of analysis one step further, suggesting that

 This time of economic growth and general euphoria in Brazil and especially in Rio de Janeiro, with a growing scarcity of skilled and unskilled labor, is setting up a scenario in which many worker groups feel ever more correct in making demands. What remains to be seen is if Brazilian society, shaken at every level by socioconomic change, can digest these and other implications. Nowadays, not much happens gradually.

I think this does hold true. While the wide gap between Brazil’s rich and poor has narrowed somewhat since the 1980s, it is still among the world’s highest. With the country recently witnessing a level of sustained economic development and growth rarely seen in its history, there is the potential for the police strike to be just the first of what could be many grossly-underpaid sectors of Brazilian society mobilizing in order to see the growth of the country aid and improve the lives of all Brazilians. There are many reasons to keep our eyes on how the police strike plays out (including not just its short-term impact on Carnaval, but how the municipal, state, and/or federal governments respond, the impact on police corruption and extralegal sources of income, including drug militias, should their demands be met, etc.), but I think Rio Real is correct in that, among the most important reasons to watch how this strike plays out is to see if it leads into other movements of undervalued, underpaid, and overworked sectors materializing and mobilizing to share in Brazil’s newfound wealth.

 

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  1. February 11, 2012 at 11:36 | #1

    Other sectors are already feeling similiar pressures, e.g. construction workers on the Maracanã remodeling, and more recently, on work at the gigantic Petrobras petrochemicals complex in the state of Rio, Comperj. http://oglobo.globo.com/economia/briga-entre-operarios-do-comperj-paralisa-obras-deixa-feridos-3940372

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