Policemen are on strike since 8 days in the Brazilian federal State of Espírito Santo. It’s quite small in size, compared to others like Bahia, Amazônia or Acre. And it is quite small in population, too, compared to Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo.
Espírito Santo translates into holy ghost. It would have been naive even before the strikes to call Espírito Santo a quiet place. Its capital Vitória has its own favela, like all the major cities in Brazil, with its own gunfights, rapes, murders.
But what is happening right now has nothing to do with the usual violence people here in Brazil have become used to a long time ago.
Policemen went on strike, or better: their families did it for them. Since they are not allowed to strike as public servants, their families chose to build campsites in front of police stations, preventing their fathers, brothers, cousins to go to work. This happened 8 days ago. Since then, 137 people have died.
TV and Internet show it all. Dead bodies piling up in the halls of the morgue. The drawers are full.
Shops are being plundered and set on fire. People are being robbed and shot on the spot. Public schools are closed, as well as public transport. It is too dangerous to go outside. A whole state transformed itself into a hellhole. Because policemen refused to work for 8 days.
This is the fragile structure we pride ourselves with, calling it “civilization”. These people, who are robbing and killing their neighbors, are no criminals. Many of them do not belong to any gang, have no criminal record. It seems that once the supervisory authority is gone, many people just go mad.
I do not know what conclusion to draw out of this. It makes me speechless. I feel that it has the power to drain all my hopes and faith I have in mankind.
I won’t let it do that. But in these days, it feels harder than ever.