>> A wave of violence has rocked northeast Brazil over the past several days, posing a challenge for the country's brand new far-right president Jair Bolsonaro. Dozens of buses have been torched, and businesses burned to the ground in scores of attacks carried out by powerful drug gangs. Reuters correspondent Gabriel Stargardter.
>> Residents of the northeastern state of Ceara awoke to uncertainty on Monday. They've faced five days of highly violent attacks against public infrastructure, banks, police barracks. They've been orchestrated by prison gangs who are furious over state authorities' plans to mix them up in state prisons. Previously, the gangs had been allocated by gang affiliation into each prison.
But the new plan just has triggered a wave of violence, that has completely upended security in the state.>> The attacks prompted Brazil's new Justice Minister to dispatch 330 elite federal security agents to Ceara on Friday. Bolsonaro backing that move. A former army captain, Bolsonaro ran on a law and order platform, and has staked his reputation on lowering violence in Latin America's largest nation.
>> The violence in Ceara is the first major security challenge faced by the government of Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on January the 1st. It poses a real headache for him, cuz he's vowed no mercy against lawbreakers. But the prison gangs are a formidable foe, who've shown that they won't kowtow to any authority.
>> On Friday, Bolsonaro asked lawmakers to quickly pass a bill to provide police and soldiers freedom from prosecution when on active duty, warning that sky high violence could only be controlled if security officials were given a free hand as they combat gang violence. Bolsonaro also plans to issue a decree allowing all Brazilians without criminal records to own firearms.
Critics argue those ideas only risk inflaming Brazil's violent streets and worsening Brazil's murder rate, which hit nearly 64,000 in 2017, a new record.