Southern Cone

Brazil: police implicated in Sao Paulo massacre

Posted on August 17th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

BrazilGunmen killed at least 18 people in outlying districts of Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, in a series of overnight attacks Aug. 14. Witnesses and video footage in several locations indicated that masked gunmen pulled up in a car before opening fire. In many cases they checked the victims' names before shooting, or asked if they had criminal records. At least six other people were injured in the attacks, in the districts of Osasco and Barueri. Authorities are said to be investigating whether the attacks were a coordinated campaign of revenge by off-duty officers following the deaths of two colleagues in the targeted districts the previous week.  Police in Brazil are responsible for more than 2,000 deaths per year, and rights groups say off-duty officers rarely face prosecution when they in engage in vigilante justice. (Reuters, BBC News, Aug. 15)

Amnesty: 'Trigger happy' police kill hundreds in Rio

Posted on August 6th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

BrazilAmnesty International in a report issued Aug. 3 charges that Brazil's military police have been responsible for more than 1,500 deaths in Rio de Janeiro in the last five years, accusinf them of a "shoot first, ask questions later" policy. Amnesty released the findings ahead of the one-year countdown to the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The report, "You killed my son: Killings by military police in Rio de Janeiro," reveals that nearly 16% of the total homicides registered in the city in the last five years took place at the hands of on-duty police—1,519 in total. Just in the favela of Acari, in the city's north, Amnesty found evidence of "extrajudicial executions" in at least nine out of 10 killings committed by the military police in 2014. 

Chile moves towards cannabis decrim

Posted on July 7th, 2015 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , .

Southern ConeCheers broke out in the public gallery July 7 as Chile's lower-house Chamber of Deputies voted 68-to-39 with five abstentions to decriminalize cannabis—including a provision for cultivation. The reform of the country's anti-drug statute, Law 20.000, would "depenalize" the possession of up to 10 grams (0.35 ounce) and the growing of up to six plants. The bill makes reference to recreational, medical and spiritual use of the herb. To become law, it still has to be studied by a health committee before the Chamber of Deputies votes again on each specific provision. It will next pass to the senate, and then to the desk of President Michelle Bachelet, who is expected to approve it.

Police extermination campaign in Brazil's favelas?

Posted on November 10th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilA harrowing report on National Public Radio Nov. 9 points to the possibility that the crackdown on favela gangs in the prelude to this year's contentious Brazil World Cup may have actually been a police extermination campaign of favela youth. On June 11—one day before the World Cup opened—two officers of the Military Police picked up three Black teenagers in Rio de Janeiro's Zona Norte. The three hadn't committed any crime, although they did have a history of petty offenses. The officers drove them up to the wooded hills of the Morro do Sumaré area, above the city. One was shot in the head and killed. One was shot in the leg and the back and left for dead. Another escaped. We know what happened because the officers left their patrol car cameras on, and the videos appeared on Brazil's Globo TV.  One officer taunts the youths: "We haven't even started beating you yet and you are already crying? Stop crying! You are crying too much! Be a man!" The officers are then heard saying "Gotta kill the three of them." And finally: "Two less. If we do this every week, we can reduce their number. We can reach the goal." The "goal" was apparently a crime-reduction target ahead of the World Cup.

Cannabis clubs register in Uruguay —but backlash brews

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

UruguayUruguay started registering cannabis growers' clubs at the end of October. Under the plan, licensed clubs of up to 45 members will be allowed to grow a maximum of 99 plants annually, with  each club member permitted to produce up to 480 grams per year. This is an advance on the regulation approved in August, allowing personal cultivation of up to six plants. (BBC News, Oct. 31) And the private sector may get on board next. The government's Institute for Control and Regulation of Cannabis (IRCCA) reports that 22 private companies—10 of them foreign-based—have expressed interest in producing or distributing cannabis in the small South American nation. (TeleSUR, Aug. 28)

Brazil: deadly prison uprising ends in deal

Posted on August 27th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , .

BrazilBrazilian authorities reached a deal with inmates Aug. 25 after a deadly prison uprising at Cascavel in Paraná state. The riot erupted the day before as breakfast was being served, when inmates overpowered guards. In apparent score-settling between rival drug gangs, two prisoners were beheaded, and two others thrown to their deaths off the roof of a cellblock. At least 25 were injured in the fighting. Under the deal, two guards who had been taken hostage are to be freed in exchange for a commitment to improve conditions at the facility and the transfer of some inmates to other prisons. The prison had already exceeded its intended 925 capacity. Negotiations on the specifics are ongoing between prisoners and  the Paraná attorney general's office. Some 574,000 are incarcerated in Brazil; only the US, China, and Russia have more people behind bars. It is an open secret in Brazil that with prison overcrowding at unmanageable levels, guards routinely keep the peace by handing control of cellblocks to the inmates. The  overcrowding has been exacerbated by a legal reform eight years ago that dramatically increased sentences for drug trafficking. (AFP, BBC News, Al Jazeera, Aug. 25; AP, Aug. 24)

Uruguay releases cannabis sales regulations

Posted on May 3rd, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

UruguayAuthorities in Uruguay on May 2 released details on how cannabis will be produced and legally sold in the country, following President José Mujica's bold legalization initiative that passed in December. With the announced regulations, Uruguay becomes the first country in the world to have a system to oversee legal cannabis production, sale and consumption. Licensed pharmacies will sell the herb for less than $1 (up to 22 pesos, or $0.95) a gram, with consumers allowed up to 40 grams (1.4 oz.) a month, or 10 grams per week. Private households may grow up to six cannabis plants. While the new regs are to officially take effect this week, it will be several months before the full system is in place. Diego Canepa, chief of Uruguay's National Drug Junta (JND), said: "Towards the end of November, early December, the sale of marijuana will already be available in the country through pharmacies." He added that the government will launch the licensing process for companies seeking to cultivate cannabis within the next 15 days. The government estimates Uruguay's current cannabis demand at between 18 and 22 tons per year, which would mean approximately 10 hectares of plantations. An Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis (IRCCA) has been established to maintain standards for quality. Use of the herb will be allowed in most public spaces where tobacco smoking is permitted, althought not at workplaces. Motorists caught "smoke-driving" will be subject to the same penalties as those under the influence of alcohol. To discourage "marijuana tourism," only Uruguayan citizens and residents will be allowed to purchase cannabis. (Al Jazeera, AFP, La Nacion, Argentina,, May 3; BBC News, TeleSur, May 2)

Rio: favela violence spills into Copacabana

Posted on April 30th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , .

BrazilAt least three cars, including a police vehicle, were set ablaze in the Rio de Janeiro favela of Complexo do Alemão on April 29 after the fatal shooting of an elderly woman—the latest in a series of such outbreaks as Brazilian authorities attempt to clean up Rio's slums before the World Cup games open next month. Arlinda Bezerra de Assis, 72, died after being shot in the stomach during a gun battle between police and presumed gang members. In another incident on April 23, the favela violence actually spilled into Rio's posh beachfront tourist districts—an unprecedented occurrence that doubtless struck fear deep into the hearts of the city fathers. The protests broke out in the Pavao-Pavaozinho favela, perched on the hills overlooking the famed Copacabana district. The riots were sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, 25, a popular dancer on Brazil's Globo TV network, had been discovered in the favela—apparently killed as "collateral damage" in another one of the frequent police shoot-outs with drug gangs. Residents swept down into  Copacabana, setting fires and hurling bottles at police, vehicles and businesses. The violence also spilled over into nearby Ipanema, another posh tourist district. The young dancer's funeral two days later also exploded into a riot, as mourners blocked traffic after leaving the Sao Joao Batista cemetery, chanting  "Justice! Justice! Police murderers!" Police used tear-gas to clear the intersection. The Military Police "pacification" campaign aimed at getting the favelas under control ahead of the World Cup and  2016 Summer Olympics looks like it may be backfiring horribly. (World Bulletin, April 29; AFP, April 25; Daily Mail, VOA, April 23)

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