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  • Striking police officers set fire to coffins in Brasilia during a protest by police officers from several Brazilian states against pension reforms.

    Striking police officers set fire to coffins in Brasilia during a protest by police officers from several Brazilian states against pension reforms. | Photo: Reuters

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The government has moved to drop the minimum retirement age for police in the reform from 60 to 55 after some 3,000 police protested outside Congress.

The Brazilian government gave in Wednesday to increasing pressure to scale back sweeping reforms to the country's pension system, agreeing to lower the minimum retirement age for police officers just a day after thousands of union members took to the streets and stormed the Congress to protest the contentious bill.

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Police pension reform, only a segment of unelected President Michel Temer's far-reaching austerity proposals, was met by disgruntled union police members in Brasilia on Tuesday. Civil, federal and traffic police from several Brazilian states, including the federal district, congregated around Brazil's national Congress to express their disapproval of the proposed cuts to their pension, clashing with guards.

Though the police protest began peacefully, a group of demonstrators eventually broke through the barricades surrounding the entrance to the Congress, broke several glass windows and stormed the building. Employees had to be removed from several areas and media personnel inside the Congress were taken to the Green Hall, which houses various acclaimed works of art.

Police protesters who entered the building were eventually halted by the legislative police force who, according to Agencia Brasil news agency, had to resort to the use of tear gas and flash bombs to contain the protesters. Six civil policemen were detained.

It was uncertain how many protesters entered the national Congress. However, it was estimated that some 3,000 policemen participated in the demonstration outside the building.

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The protest was organized by the Union Police of Brazil, known as UPB, which intended to deliver a written statement demanding that all police personnel be withdrawn from austerity cuts proposed by Temer's administration. According to UPB, Tuesday's protest was called in recognition of the Day of Struggle for the Appreciation of the Public Safety Professional and in response to Temer's radical social security reform, including a controversial decision to freeze public spending for 20 years, which critics argue will adversely affect the Brazilian working class as a whole.

The day after the protests, a draft reform presented by a Temer ally in Congress proposed reducing the minimum retirement age for police from 60 to 55. A congressional commission is expected to vote on the pension reform proposal, which is a constitutional amendment, on May 2.

The police protest is the latest in a stream of demonstrations against the pension reform, which are expected to continue as Congress continues to discuss the contentious proposal.


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