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  • Members of Brazil's armed forces patrol a working class neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro.

    Members of Brazil's armed forces patrol a working class neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 February 2018

Vagner Freitas, president of the Unified Workers' Central said the people of Brazil don't need a “military intervention,” but a “social intervention."

Brazil’s lower house has approved a decree authorizing the federal government to dispatch military forces to intervene in security matters in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The bill needs approval from the Senate to finalize the measure, according to Reuters.

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The bill, which allows Brazil's army to take over command of police forces in the state and authorizes search warrants for entire communities, passed the lower house with 340 lawmakers voting in favor, 72 against and one abstention. It is expected to pass the Senate vote later today.

However, the legislation has garnered sharp criticism from civil society. Vagner Freitas, president of the Unified Workers' Central, or CUT, said the people of Rio de Janeiro, and elsewhere in Brazil, do not need a “military intervention,” but a “social intervention,” one that expands and improves public education, legal employment and “first jobs for youth.”

Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff posted a message on her official Facebook page stating that Brazilian President Michel Temer's “regime is closing its claws against the most vulnerable Brazilians who are in most need of justice.” She noted that the “coup government initiative to promote collective search, seizure and arrest warrants is one of the worst violations of civil rights that Brazil confronts since the end of the dictatorship” and that it represents “yet another step in the deepening of the state of emergency in Brazil.”

Also, Brazil's Association of Judges for Democracy released a statement saying that the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro state represents a direct violation of the country's constitution.

Last Friday, Brazil's federal government summoned the army to take control of police forces in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The move was in response to increased violence and drug gangs who have “virtually taken over,” Temer said.

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