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Brazil: prison violence spills into streets of Maranhão —again

Posted on January 9th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Southern ConeThe ongoing prison crisis in Brazil's impoverished northeastern state of Maranhão again made brief headlines this month after newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo released a gruesome video of gang warfare victims inside the violence-plagued and dangerously overcrowded Pedrinhas facility. The video was recorded on Dec. 17, the newspaper reported, describing how "other prisoners pose with the bodies, showing them off like trophies." The footage was turned over to the paper by a prison workers' union to raise awareness of the depth of the crisis. But Maranhão residents had sure been aware of it. There were more than 60 deaths at the facility last year—a higher murder rate than the outside world. Gang control of the prison was so complete that there were reports of inmates' wives being raped in conjugal visits. This finally prompted federal authorities to launch a crackdown over the new year. Military police took over the facility, and found 300 improvised weapons, as well as cell phones by which ranking inmates presumably controlled their outside drug networks. In response to the crackdown, gang leaders called for their supporters on the outside to launch an uprising. That's when the trouble really began...

Southern Cone neighbors react to Uruguay legalization

Posted on December 30th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , .

Southern ConePresident José Mujica signed Uruguay's cannabis legalization bill into law on Christmas Eve, and the country's neighbors are preparing for the new policy to take effect—apparently with more trepidation than hope. Mujica is said to have discussed the question with Brazil's center-left President Dilma Rousseff on his visit last month to Brasília. Local media reported that she expressed fears about Uruguayan herb entering Brazil, and announced plans to beef up searches at the border—with plans to impose stiff sentences of 10 years and up for trafficking (including "transnational" personal possession).

Brazil: deadly prison riot sets off angry protests

Posted on October 11th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

Southern ConeAt least 13 inmates were killed and some 30 injured in a clash between rival gangs Oct. 10 at Pedrinhas prison in São Luis, in Brazil's northeastern state of Maranhão. Authorities said violence broke out after guards discovered inmates digging an escape tunnel. The inmates fought the attacking guards and started a fire, as members of rival gangs took advantage of the confusion to settle scores. Then, as news of the conflagration broke, relatives of inmates gathered outside the prison, demanding information. When this was not forthcoming, they began to throw stones at the guards, fought back police, took over a roadway, and set several buses on fire.

Brazil-Bolivia tensions over narco-diplomatic scandal

Posted on September 8th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

AndesBrazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota resigned Aug. 25 in the midst of a diplomatic scandal concerning a Bolivian opposition figure who accused the Evo Morales government of narco-corruption. Bolivian senator Roger Pinto had been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in La Paz for more than a year after he was charged with corruption-related crimes. He claimed the charges agaist him were retaliation for blowing the whistle on a Bolivian cabinet minister's meetings with a Brazilian drug lord. Pinto on Aug. 25 turned up in Brasília, having secretly fled Bolivia in a Brazilian diplomatic car, protected by a detachment of Brazilian soldiers.  According to Brazilian media, President Dilma Rousseff's government did not know of the operation and considered it a "disaster." Pinto on Sept. 3 said that he would decline requests to testify before Brazil's congress on the affair. (EFE, Sept. 3; BBC News, Aug. 26; WSJ, Aug. 25)

Brazil deploys military forces, pledges to "pacify" Rio's favelas

Posted on November 17th, 2011 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Hundreds of riot police backed up by 200 navy commandos invaded the Rio de Janeiro favelas of Rocinha, Vidigal and Chacara do Ceu in the wee hours of Nov. 13. The next day, the elite Special Operations Police Battalion (BOPE) said they had uncovered the secret "mansion" of wanted drug lord Antônio Bonfim Lopez AKA "Nem" in Rocinha. "Nem" was reportedly arrested at the scene. The shanty-towns had long been controlled by drug gangs, and were a no-go zone for police. Authorities say they plan to pacify dozens more favelas ahead of the 2014 World Cup. (Noticias R7, Rio de Janeiro, Nov. 17; AFP, Nov. 15; AFP, Nov. 14)

Brazil: narco-massacre of Amazon tribe?

Posted on August 10th, 2011 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

the AmazonThe head of Brazil's indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI, is to make an emergency visit to a remote Amazon outpost amid fears that members of an isolated tribe may have been "massacred" by drug traffickers. The move comes after a guard post protecting the "uncontacted" people was overrun by heavily-armed men, believed to be drug-traffickers from neighboring Peru. The post was ransacked and equipment destroyed.

"Global war on drugs has failed": report

Posted on June 3rd, 2011 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

earthA new report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy finds that the "global war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world," and calls upon governments to explore the legalization of cannabis and other controlled substances. "Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately, that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem and that the war on drugs has not and cannot be won," the report states.

Brazil: Military Police attack pro-cannabis protesters

Posted on May 23rd, 2011 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

Prohibited from holding a "March for Marijuana," cannabis advocates in São Paulo had agreed with police to instead hold a generic protest in defense of freedom of expression. But minutes after the march began May 21, the Military Police attacked the some 1,000 unarmed demonstrators with stun bombs, tear gas and rubber bullets.  Television images showed riot troops charging toward the protesters when they tried to march down the busy Paulista Avenue. By-standers and journalists covering the event as well as protesters were caught up in the violence, reports Último Segundo.

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