Folha Blasts Lula Over Drug Policy Betrayal
Brazil's largest daily reminds president that he pledged to take anti-drug department away from the military
By Folha de São Paulo
July 30, 2003
By preserving the subordination of the National Anti-Drug Secretary (SENAD, in its Portuguese initials) in the military area, keeping it in the National Security Cabinet, the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva makes another decision in contrary to what his party promised before crossing the gates of power.
Created by a 1998 provisional law, the SENAD was born as a result of international pressures, especially from the United States, so that Brazil would join the war on drugs with greater clarity. The organization has been polemic from the start. The Federal Police – constitutionally responsible for the anti-drug campaign – later questioned the role of the new department that had been subordinated to the Military Cabinet. A series of serious internal struggles occurred until the labor was divided: the Federal Police, under the Justice Department, would handle the repression of trafficking, leaving the SENAD to conduct preventative actions.
This division of labor, however, did not eliminate the conflicts and tried to separate repression and prevention, in reality two faces on the same coin. Beyond that, many felt that subordinating preventative measures to the military was inadequate, and this fueled suspicions that the decision obeyed the interests of the USA’s international anti-drug policy, strongly militarized.
In the new government, the differences between the Justice Ministry and the SENAD erupted again. In general, the Justice Ministry was favorable to a “European” style policy of decriminalization of drug users, and treating the issue as a problem of public health instead of one of prisons. The SENAD favored “Therapeutic Justice,” born in the USA, through would the consumer could choose between prison and obligatory hospitalization. Folha has advocated that the country walk in the direction of the first option, that of the Justice Ministry.
It’s not just a question of doctrine that justifies the transference of the SENAD to the Justice Ministry, as the new government had promised to do, but, rather, it is a fact that such a measure would contribute to combating drugs with more effectiveness and efficiency.
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