Rio de Janeiro police to Olympic tourists: We can't protect you
With only 31 days until the Olympics, police officers in Rio de Janeiro tell tourists they won't be able to protect them, claiming they have not been paid in months.
As the Aug. 5 start date for the 2016 Summer Olympics draws closer, security concerns continue to increase as police in Rio de Janeiro say they won't be able to protect tourists.
Around 85,000 police officers and soldiers are set to be deployed in Rio to maintain security, but officers say they haven't been paid in months. Security forces are so low on funds that police have taken to begging for donations of pens, cleaning supplies, and even toilet paper, the Associated Press reports.
Last week, state police officers held a protest outside Rio airport, holding a sign that said "Welcome to Hell. Police and firefighters don’t get paid, whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe."
The protest came around the same time that body parts washed up on Copacabana Beach, where Olympic beach volleyball matches are set to be held.
The week prior, two members of Australia’s Paralympic sailing team were mugged at gunpoint in broad daylight near their hotel in Rio, causing Australian Olympic officials to demand better security for athletes in Rio immediately.
That same day, Rio's Souza Aguiar hospital was raided by 20 masked gunmen attempting to free an alleged drug kingpin. One person was killed and two others injured in the shootout. The hospital is one of five that has been designated to treat tourists during the Olympic games.
Earlier this week, Rio de Janeiro Mayor Eduardo Paes said the state was doing a "terrible" job in terms of security leading up to the games.
"It's completely failing at its work of policing and taking care of people," he told CNN.
A 2.9 billion-real (about $850 million) bailout was approved by the federal government in June, roughly six weeks before the start of the Olympics, after Rio de Janeiro state issued an executive order requesting emergency funds to pay officers their bonuses and overtime. It's thought that the back pay will be distributed this week.
Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world, with around 42,000 people killed with guns every year, according to Atila Roque, Amnesty International's Brazil director.
Those deaths disproportionately take place in slums known as favelas and poor communities. Yet, two anonymous police officers told CNN, the limited resources of the police are largely devoted to patrolling tourist destinations such as Copacabana rather than dangerous gang-filled neighborhoods.
"We have a very common saying here in Brazil – for the English to see," one of the officers said. "I believe that the politicians here are doing everything for the English to see."