Rodrigo Pacheco's PEC

Image: RDNE Stock project


The decision to make possession of any amount of drugs illegal is scientific denialism, institutional racism and a total lack of civic commitment by senators with the real problems of society.

The Federal Senate approved in two rounds the Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC), submitted by the President of the House, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), which makes possession of any quantity of an illicit substance a crime. In practice, it is a direct response to the decision of the Federal Supreme Court that has judged, since 2015, the unconstitutionality of the criminalization of drug possession, seeking criteria to differentiate users from drug dealers.

The prohibition of drugs, specifically cannabis – linked by several historical and anthropological studies to enslaved black people in the colonial and imperial period, and used in hospitals for the alienated at the beginning of the Republic until it was banned – is yet another device of Brazilian institutional racism. Prohibiting and criminalizing the possession of widely consumed illicit substances paves the way for them to be used as currency in all types of crimes, from organizing militias to invading demarcated lands.

In this direction, the State becomes an active agent to arrest, kill and build criminal organizations essentially composed of young black and peripheral people. These, without access to education and decent employment opportunities, become easy prey for criminal organizations that are becoming more and more efficient in State institutions every day, as is currently happening in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

According to a 2023 survey carried out by Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA), 68% of defendants for trafficking are black; 72% are under 30 years old and 67% have not completed basic education. In only 13% of cases there is previous involvement with criminal organizations. In other words, it is in the overcrowded prison that these vulnerable people are mobilized by criminal groups. Brazil has the third largest prison population in the world, with almost one million people.

In addition to the human cost, there are economic expenses. O Center for Security and Citizenship Studies (CESeC) revealed that in 2017 Rio de Janeiro spent almost R$1 billion on the war on drugs, while São Paulo wasted R$4,2 billion.

The approval of Rodrigo Pacheco's PEC, combined with the approval of the project that eliminates the possibility of temporary releases from prisons - partially vetoed by President Lula for violating the principles of human dignity - points to a fearful future of over-incarceration and likely rebellions, with the growth criminal organizations and militias.

Such aspects contribute to the strengthening of far-right groups which, seductive with their easy solutions to difficult problems, only have to gain from a nationwide prison revolt, once the links between militias and criminal organizations are made explicit – but not confronted. with parliamentary staff and senior civil service bureaucracy.

As Muniz Sodré pointed out in his book Fascism of color: an x-ray of national racism, racism in Brazil is institutional and intersubjective. Rodrigo Pacheco's PEC is just another manifestation of this: scientific denialism, institutional racism and the senators' total lack of civic commitment to society's real problems. These and other measures show that in Brazil's current democracy, parliament is just a House to mourn.

* Carla Teixeira is a doctoral candidate in history at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG).

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