Latin America for the most part is seen as the home of drugs that wash up on the shores of many nations in the developed world. Little to no study is undertaken in relation to the effects these drugs have to these nations themselves. Crack cocaine is king in Brazil: What Sao Paulo is doing about it is a piece of investigative journalism written by Stephanie Noel, which gives us a look into Brazil’s war on crack use within the nation. Cracolândia is the common name given to places ridden with the drug (there are variations on the name depending on the region, Cracolândia commonly refers to the major crack neighborhood within Sao Paulo). Here, residents are able to buy and publicly use crack cocaine, and over time, masses have migrated here due to the easy and constant availability of the drug. Cracolândia is located between the business and cultural districts of Sao Paulo, and therefore acts as a constant reminder of their nation’s glaring drug problem. Brazil is reported to have the highest number of crack cocaine users in the world having been recently estimated at over one million users.
Amid the release of the staggering statistic and prior to the World Cup, the Sao Paulo provincial government under Fernando Haddad undertook operation Braços Abertos (Open Arms). The optimistic project aimed at rehabilitating the inhabitants of Cracolândia by giving them shelter, employment and other social amenities to better their lives, in the hope that they would abandon crack use. The endeavor was predicted to save taxpayers’ money used in the hospitalization of those same drug users, and instead invest those funds in their recuperation and reintegration back into society. Many, including the drug users themselves, wondered if this was a government ploy to hide the countries domestic issues prior to the World Cup, and then abandon the project after.
Reflecting on this issue after the World Cup, it is clear to all that it was just a political plot to cover up the grave drug problem within the nation (see Copa do Mundo não altera vida na Cracolândia, Jéssica Souza). Sao Paulo’s inhabitants have returned to public drug abuse, and Cracolândia went back to thriving as well as it did before Braços Abertos. Drug use in Brazil is widely seen as a reflection of the inequality within the nation. The majority of the crack users are the poor, uneducated factions of the nation, while those who supply them are easily found anywhere within the middle to upper classes (those with access and connections to neighboring countries that export cocaine). This addiction has continued to consume the lower classes of the nations, and helps to maintain the power structure within the country. Brazil has had an active war on drugs for years, whether it is the trafficking of drugs within or outside the nation (use of BOPE prior to the World Cup), or the use of drugs within its own borders (as seen by the Braços Abertos initiative). This however has largely become a business, leaving its negative socio-cultural and economic effects to be felt by the marginalized poor majority, while those in power reap from this enterprise.
Crack Is king in Brazil; What Sao Paulo is doing about it; http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/crack-is-king-in-brazil-what-sao-paulo-is-doing-about-it/article18232957/?page=all
Copa Do Mundo Nao Altera Vida Na Cracolandia; (text in Portuguese)