A harm reduction campaign regarding the use of drugs designed for this year’s Carnival in Olinda ended up being interrupted after accusations that the action was an “apology for drugs”. “Stay Soft” was an initiative of the Free School of Harm Reduction and was criticized by far-right lawmakers. The organization had its space interdicted by the Civil Police (PC) temporarily, but it has already been released to return to activities.
“Stay Suave takes place for the second time at the Carnival of Olinda and has the proposal to bring information, prevention and reception to revelers, providing care, rest and hydration to those who need it, in addition to protection supplies”, is what explains Priscilla Gadelha, psychologist and one of the coordinators of the Free School of Harm Reduction.
:: Harm reduction is the best option to reduce drug abuse, say professionals ::
During the days of revelry, volunteers from the organization distributed kits including water, sunscreen, condoms, cards and straws for the use of snorted drugs, in addition to educational material.
In addition to the physical action, the disclosure also circulated widely on the networks, with explanatory videos and publications with guidelines. These are the ones that caught your attention. Based on an anonymous complaint, the Civil Police was called, through the Cyber Crimes Police Station.
On Carnival Monday (20), the space of Escola Livre RD, located on Rua Treze de Maio, in the Carmo neighborhood, was closed. “The police action took place without a warrant or court order, coercing the team with screams. They arrived in space with truculence, pointing a gun at our team. They searched the entire yard looking for substances and found nothing”, reported Priscilla Gadelha.
At the end of the inspection, two local coordinators accompanied them to the police station together with the organization’s lawyers, with samples of the kits, where they gave statements and were released.
A day later, the organization called on popular movements, partners, popular mandates, civil society institutions and organizations that support the fight against the criminalization of harm reduction to attend the House of Harm Reduction in a joint action.
On social networks, there was great commotion on the part of parliamentarians from far-right parties. Federal deputy Clarissa Tércio (PP) published a video congratulating the Civil Police for interdicting what she said was “an apology for drug use”.
State deputy Joel da Harpa (PL) also played an excerpt from the campaign video, in which one of the members of the School presents informational materials and inputs from the kit distributed at the Olinda Carnival, also claiming that it was an incentive to drug use.
Federal deputy Coronel Meira, on the other hand, stated that he did not have access to the material, but classified the distribution of information leaflets as inappropriate. “There is no safe consumption of drugs, the only possible harm reduction is the search for professional assistance for immediate treatment”, he emphasized.
Parliamentarians such as Rosa Amorim (PT) and former mayor of Recife, João Paulo Lima (PT) condemned the action of the Civil Police and reiterated that Harm Reduction is a health policy.
“The valuable work is in defense of life, with reception and information about the risks of exaggerated use of alcohol and other drugs”, published João Paulo on his social networks.
What is harm reduction?
The Harm Reduction Policy (DR) in Brazil is not something new, nor are the moralistic attacks it suffers. In 1989, the country had its first experience with RD, in Santos, on the coast of São Paulo. The city government distributed syringes to injecting drug users to avoid sharing the drug.
Since then, the government has been working to promote and expand policies in this regard. Ordinance 1028, of July 2005, updated by Consolidation Ordinance nº5, of September 28, 2017, provides for the distribution of supplies to drug users. In its 2nd article, the rule defined the State’s guidelines for action.
“Humanity has always used drugs and always will. But we live with a prohibition that usually acts only on an ethical and moral basis”, says Evelly Araújo, a social worker who specializes in health at the Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE).
She points out the need to look at several aspects to understand the individual’s relationship with the drug, among them cultural, social, religious, economic and political factors. “Harm Reduction starts from multiple factors to understand that the user needs to have access to information and care that is not moralized”, points out the professional, who also researches Drug Policy in her master’s degree and is part of the anti-asylum struggle collective Liberating Subjectivities in Pernambuco.
Thus, Harm Reduction for drug users has as its main objective to minimize the damage caused by the use of psychoactive substances. Among the strategies adopted by HR are the promotion of health and dignity of users, access to equipment for safe consumption, such as disposable syringes, and psychological and social support.
“RD has achieved dialogue throughout Latin America, but at the same time we have an extremely fragile context in Brazil with the advance of the extreme right”, he points out. “If we think of the Pernambuco context, we have the Collins family, we have Mayor Lupércio, the Tércio family, they are religious parliamentary leaders who have, for example, therapeutic communities. The debate on drugs is central to the campaign and to the their claim”, criticizes.
Finally, she denies that Harm Reduction is an apology for drug use, but an apology for care. “We greatly expanded the notions of HR beyond inputs. Inputs are paramount, but our way of welcoming, listening, and the way we manage to insert these people into a network is also fundamental ”, she concludes.
After what happened in Olinda
One week after the ban on the space in Olinda, the event brought the debate on Harm Reduction to the population and sparked a national mobilization. On social networks, the Free School Reduction of Damages took a position through a note to what it called an “attempt to criminalize” the activities of the house. Read in full:
As a result of this case, Harm Reduction organizations and movements called for actions throughout Brazil with events, activities, acts and cultural interventions in defense of care, prevention policies and for a new drug policy that respects Human Rights. The national mobilization takes place next Saturday, March 4th.
Source: BdF Pernambuco
Editing: Elen Carvalho
Leave a Reply