Explaining Brazil #47: Brazil’s war on drugs failed. What next?

The world’s so-called war on drugs has been an utter failure. Drug gangs are as strong as ever — and trying to confront them with police raids and arrests has only created a vicious cycle of poverty and violence around the globe.

In the words of NGO Health Poverty Action, the people most affected by the war on drugs are not those in charge of selling illegal substances. Instead, it’s those caught up at the lowest levels of the trade – an industry that is destroying their lives and their communities.

A group of legal scholars and health experts was designated by Brazil’s House of Representatives to propose changes to the current Drugs Act. The committee presented its report—lobbying for the decriminalization of drug consumption, but suggesting tougher penalties on illegal trade.

The report is not very extensive in its modernization of current rules — but tries to eliminate gray areas that are usually detrimental to black and poor populations.

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On this podcast

Julita Lemgruber is a sociologist who has held different positions in public service. She has served as Rio’s General Director of the Prison System, as Rio’s Police Ombudswoman, and as a member of the National Council for Criminal and Penitentiary Policy in the federal government. Since 2000, Ms. Lemgruber has been the Coordinator of the Center for Studies on Public Security and Citizenship at the Candido Mendes University.

Gustavo Ribeiro has extensive experience covering Brazilian politics. His work has been featured across Brazilian and French media outlets, including Veja, Época, Folha de São Paulo, Médiapart, and Radio France Internationale. He is the recipient of multiple awards, including the Abril Prize for outstanding political journalism. He holds a master’s degree in Political Science and Latin American studies from Panthéon-Sorbonne University in Paris.

This podcast was produced by Maria Martha Bruno and Euan Marshall. Maria is a journalist with 14 years of experience in politics, arts, and breaking news. She has collaborated with Al Jazeera, NBC, and CNN, among others, and worked as an international correspondent in Buenos Aires.

Euan is a journalist and translator who has lived in São Paulo, Brazil since 2011. Specializing in Brazilian soccer, politics, and the connection between the two, his work has been published in The Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, The Independent, and Jacobin Magazine, among others. In 2014, he authored a comprehensive history of Brazilian soccer entitled “A to Zico: An Alphabet of Brazilian Football.”

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