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Brazil: riot rocks Rio favela

Posted on April 21st, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilMilitary Police occupied the favela, or shantytown, of Caramujo, in the city of Niteroi outside Río de Janeiro, following riots sparked by the death of two local youths in incidents with the security forces April 19. One of the victims, Anderson Luiz Santos da Silva, 21, was outside a church with his family on Good Friday when he was hit by a stray bullet—apparently from a shoot-out between police and local drug dealers. His nine-year-old brother was also wounded in the incident. "The young man died trying to protect his mother and sister," said Niteroi's Catholic Church in a statement. The second victim, Emanoel Gomes, 17, was killed when a police  armored vehicle crashed his motorbike. Residents set fire to vehicles and battled police, calling for justice. Amnesty International says some 2,000 people die every year in Brazil in careless and violent police actions. The favelas have been targeted for aggressive police action ahead of the World Cup, which Brazil is to host in June. Rio de Janeiro is also slated to host the 2016 Olympics. (Notimérica, April 20; BBC News, April 19)

Rio de Janeiro: military operation against favelas

Posted on April 4th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Southern ConeBrazilian Military Police backed by Marine troops occupied the massive Maré favela next to Rio de Janeiro's Galeao international airport on March 31, allegedly without firing a shot. The aim was to secure one of the city's most violent districts, long under control of drug gangs, ahead of the World Cup, to be held in Brazil in June. Shock troops of the elite Special Police Operations Battalion (BOPE) and Marines in armored vehicles and helicopters secured the Maré area, where 130,000 people live in poverty on the north side of Rio. Police said they seized guns and 450 kilos of marijuana, and arrested two suspected dealers. But residents said most gang leaders slipped out the favela ahead of the occupation. The operation had been expected; in preceding days Police Pacification Units (UPPs) were installed in 174 of Rio's favelas— home to around 600,000 people. (InSerbia, April 1; MercoPress, March 31)

UN report bashes legalization; Uruguay talks back

Posted on March 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

earthIn its newly released annual report, the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on March 4 took aim at legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington states, urging the US federal government to ensure that anti-drug treaties are "fully implemented on the entirety of its territory." INCB president Raymond Yans said the Colorado and Washington laws "contravene the provisions of the drug control conventions, which limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific use only." Also singling out the new legalization policy in Uruguay, he added that such initiatives pose "a very grave danger to public health and wellbeing." (BBC News, The Guardian, March 4)

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).

Uruguay prez signs cannabis legalization bill

Posted on December 26th, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

Southern ConeUruguayan President José Mujica on Dec. 24 signed into law his plan to oversee the production and sale of cannabis in the Southern Cone country. The Uruguayan Senate passed the measure to legalize production, sale and consumption of the herb earlier this month. The law makes Uruguay the first country to have a system to regulate cannabis production and sale; use of cannabis was already legal in Uruguay. The bill allows individuals over 18 to grow up to six of their own plants per person, creates state-supervised and controlled consumer clubs, and permits consumers to buy up to 40 grams per month from pharmacies. Uruguay's government has four months to draw up regulations for the program, such as how production licenses will be granted. The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), the UN body overseeing the implementation of international drug treaties, has criticized Uruguay's legislation as being illegal (PDF) under international treaties. (Jurist, AP, Dec. 25)

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.

Uruguay lawmakers vote up cannabis legalization

Posted on August 1st, 2013 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , .

Southern ConeUruguay’s lower house July 31 approved a bill to legalize cannabis, by a vote of 50 to 46. The bill now goes to the Senate, where lawmakers have assured President José Mujica they have a majority to approve it. Mujica's administration introduced the bill, and his signature is not in doubt. Laura Blanco, president of Uruguay's Cannabis Studies Association said the bill sent an "encouraging" sign to other Latin American nations.  Under the law, citizens will be allowed to  cultivate cannabis in their homes, limited to six plants per household. They would also be permitted to form cooperatives allowed to grow 99 plants. In addition, private companies can produce under the bill, their harvests to be bought by the government for resale to licensed pharmacies. To buy in pharmacies, citizens must submit their names into a  confidential federal registry, and are limited to buying 40 grams per month. In a move to prevent cannabis tourism, the legislation restricts legal purchases to Uruguayans.

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