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Brazil freezes Rio de Janeiro state's bank accounts over debts

By
Andrew V. Pestano
On Tuesday, Brazil's federal government froze the bank accounts of the Rio de Janeiro state over millions of dollars of unpaid debts. In this image, a police officer patrols at the Christ the Redeemer Statue, prior to the start of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on August 3, 2016. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
On Tuesday, Brazil's federal government froze the bank accounts of the Rio de Janeiro state over millions of dollars of unpaid debts. In this image, a police officer patrols at the Christ the Redeemer Statue, prior to the start of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil on August 3, 2016. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Brazil's federal government has frozen the bank accounts of the Rio de Janeiro state over millions of dollars of unpaid debts.

Rio de Janeiro declared a financial emergency ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics as it struggles amid a financial crisis due to a drop in global oil and commodity prices.

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Luiz Fernando Pezao, Rio de Janeiro's governor, last week announced austerity measures. Public workers throughout the state have not been paid for months and Pezao warns if the measures are not approved, the state will not be able to guarantee workers would receive full payments in 2017.

Proposed austerity measures include cuts to social spending, a tax hike for retired people, a sales tax increase and a public transportation fare increase.

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Thousands of public servants, retirees and pensioners protested against the unpaid wages and budget cuts in front of the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, O Globo reports.

Brazil is facing an economic, political and security crisis. The South American's intentional homicide rate was 24.6 killings per 100,000 people in 2014, an increase from the rate of 20.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2010, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's International Homicide Statistics.

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"Help the real heroes! Police officers are dying in an undeclared civil war and the government doesn't even care," a sign held up by protesters said.

The federal government needed to provide the state with additional financial assistance to provide security during the Olympics, as well as to finish a public transportation route.

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