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Will Brazil's Carnival be canceled?

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Silvia Izquierdo/AP

(Read caption) Brazilian police, firefighters and prison guards protest during a rally in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Feb. 9. Police agreed to strike last night, just days ahead of the world's most famous carnival celebration.

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• A version of this post ran on the author's blog, riorealblog.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

A crowd of boisterous men gathered in Rio’s Cinelândia square last night, setting off firecrackers, chanting and punching the air with their fists. And then they, the police, voted to strike.

What this translates to, in terms of safety for greater Rio de Janeiro’s population of twelve million, especially as Carnival approaches, is the question of the hour.

How many really won’t work? Reports early Friday say the city isn’t lacking for police (in Portuguese).

The civil police homicide division seems to be working. More than a month after a young passinho dancer from a North Zone favela was found beaten to death, civil police reportedly arrested two suspects today.

In the 1960s, Brazil’s military put a lid on demands from the poor, with a coup that kept an authoritarian government in power until 1985. The return to democracy was gradual, with elites carefully managing the process. Though former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva carried on with old political and economic practices, his 2002-2010 government marked the return to center stage of those long-repressed demands.

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