Rio mayor to fine himself for dropping trash

Rio's mayor and C40 chairman Eduardo Paes takes part in a debate on the first day of the C40 Cities climate summit in Johannesburg on Feb 5, 2014. Mr Paes said he would fine himself after being caught on video appearing to be dropping trash in the st
Rio's mayor and C40 chairman Eduardo Paes takes part in a debate on the first day of the C40 Cities climate summit in Johannesburg on Feb 5, 2014. Mr Paes said he would fine himself after being caught on video appearing to be dropping trash in the street. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes said he would fine himself after being caught on video appearing to be dropping trash in the street.

Mr Paes, who put in place a tough "zero litter" policy last year, said he did not remember the incident but apologized anyway and said he would pay a 157 reai fine (S$85).

The video, which appeared to show him throwing a piece of fruit to the ground, surfaced on social media amid a strike by Rio street cleaners.

Mr Paes' press office questioned whether the video really showed him throwing fruit on the ground. "Nonetheless, in case of doubt and given the mayor has no recollection of what happened, he has determined that the municipal cleaning company (Comlurb) should fine him," Mr Paes' media service said.

Some street cleaners went on strike last week during Rio's famous Carnival, which left the city overflowing with trash.

Mr Paes said most cleaners had shown up to work this week, their strike call over pay and conditions disowned by their union, but had been intimidated by an aggressive minority demanding pay rises.

On Thursday, cleaners who showed up for work were given a police escort after reports they had been threatened by gun-wielding colleagues.

Meanwhile, some 500 cleaners held a peaceful protest outside the city hall, their work stoppage entering a seventh day, as dozens of military police looked on.

The strikers say more than half of the city's 15,000 cleaners back their cause.

Some protesters Friday held aloft banners reading "The mayor wants to hold the (World) Cup,; cleaners want to go shopping" or "we are treated like trash!"

Paulo da Silva, one of the strikers' leaders, told AFP: "We want a decent wage which allows us to live. The mayor prefers to concentrate on the organization of the World Cup - it's a disgrace."