March 11, 2013
Fernando Henrique Cardoso , Ruth Dreifuss – The New York Times, 03/10/2013
This week, representatives from many nations will gather at the annual meeting of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in Vienna to determine the appropriate course of the international response to illicit drugs. Delegates will debate multiple resolutions while ignoring a truth that goes to the core of current drug policy: human rights abuses in the war on drugs are widespread and systematic.
Consider these numbers: Hundreds of thousands of people locked in detention centers and subject to violent punishments. Millions imprisoned. Hundreds hanged, shot or beheaded. Tens of thousands killed by government forces and non-state actors. Thousands beaten and abused to extract information, and abused in government or private “treatment” centers. Millions denied life-saving medicines. These are alarming figures, but campaigns to address them have been slow and drug control has received little attention from the mainstream human rights movement.
This is a perfect storm for people who use drugs, especially those experiencing dependency, and those involved in the drug trade, whether growers, couriers or sellers. When people are dehumanized we know from experience that abuses against them are more likely. We know also that those abuses are less likely to be addressed because fewer people care.
August 27, 2012
Hector Velasco – AFP, 08/27/2012
Faced with rising cocaine consumption linked to economic prosperity, Brazil is cracking down harder on trafficking along its borders with three top neighboring coca leaf producers: Bolivia, Peru and Colombia.
“Our country is making headway economically and rising income translates into higher drug use,” said Oslain Santana, head of the federal police’s anti-organized crime task force.
“Cocaine consumption is the highest in the south and the southeast, where 60 percent of the population and 75 percent of the country’s GDP are concentrated,” he added.
August 20, 2012
Juliana Barbassa – Associated Press, 8/18/2012
Business was brisk in the Mandela shantytown on a recent night. In the glow of a weak light bulb, customers pawed through packets of powdered cocaine and marijuana priced at $5, $10, $25. Teenage boys with semiautomatic weapons took in money and made change while flirting with girls in belly-baring tops lounging nearby.
Next to them, a gaggle of kids jumped on a trampoline, oblivious to the guns and drug-running that are part of everyday life in this and hundreds of other slums, known as favelas, across this metropolitan area of 12 million people. Conspicuously absent from the scene was crack, the most addictive and destructive drug in the triad that fuels Rio’s lucrative narcotics trade.
Once crack was introduced here about six years ago, Mandela and the surrounding complex of shantytowns became Rio’s main outdoor drug market, a “cracolandia,” or crackland, where users bought the rocks, smoked and lingered until the next hit. Hordes of addicts lived in cardboard shacks and filthy blankets, scrambling for cash and a fix.
July 16, 2012
LA PAZ — Brazil should play a more dynamic role in the war on drugs in Bolivia since 60 percent of the latter country’s cocaine winds up in the former, a US diplomat has said.
Under the principle of shared responsibility, Brazil should play a bigger part in discouraging Bolivia from producing cocaine since it is Brazil’s main supplier of the drug, US attache John Creamer told local media.
Creamer acts as a de facto US ambassador to Bolivia because under leftist President Evo Morales the two countries have not exchanged official ambassadors since 2008.
April 23, 2012
Viola Glenger – Bloomberg, 04/23/2012
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is embarking today on a week-long visit to Colombia, Brazil and Chile for talks on drug trafficking, arms deals and bolstering smaller militaries in Latin America and elsewhere.
His agenda includes potential military aircraft deals with Brazil and a request from Colombia for more intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aid to fight the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla group, known as FARC, two U.S. defense officials said in briefing reporters before the trip.
Panetta also is looking to coordinate with the three regional powers to provide military training for smaller countries in Central America and Africa that are fighting the drug trade, the officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talks in advance.
June 3, 2011
Fabiana Frayssinet – IPS, 06/02/2011
View over the main favela to Copacabana beach. Photo courtesy of flickr user Michael Sharma
Four decades after Washington declared its “war on drugs” and began to spread the doctrine south of the U.S. border, the government of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro decided to shift away from that approach towards a strategy focused on community policing.
The new focus has already produced results in some of the city’s favelas or shanty towns, which were long off-limits to outsiders, including police.
The process began in 2009 with the installation of “Police Pacification Units” (UPPs) in the favelas. The new model of public security and crime prevention aims to forge ties of trust between the local population and the police.
*On March 16, 2011, the Brazil Institute hosted two senior members with Rio de Janeiro’s Public Security Secretariat. The event “A New Approach to Citizen Security in Brazil: Rio’s Pacifying Police Units”, can be viewed here.