Demilitarize, extricate, legalize!

Image: Kindel Media


New drug policy, public safety reform and prison system restructuring: the time is now

It intrigues me a lot: why does the progressive camp, the left in general and the PT in particular, have so many difficulties with the issue of public security?

Common sense is hegemonized by neoliberal-conservative thinking and, recently, by neofascism. “A good bandit is a dead bandit” – Datena-style programs swarm around.

In Brazil, about six thousand people are executed every year by military police. It is a structural problem, which the PT and the left in general have many difficulties to face.

Demilitarize the police, legalize and regulate drugs, stop mass incarceration of poor black youth.

There are successful practices on drug policies around the world – from Uruguay to Portugal – passing through California, for example.

We have 832.295 thousand people in prison (adding closed, open and semi-open regime). About 200 are pre-trial detainees – that is, they have not been tried and convicted. 70% are black.

It is very complicated even for a PT state government to deal with these issues. The military police, in particular, consider themselves to be a separate force in charge of everything. A bunch of poor workers – ill-educated, with guns in their hands and fascist ideology in their heads.

Recognizing the size of the challenge should not lead us to relativize the mistakes of our democratic state governments. The PT's performance in this area, in general, is very poor.

sad Bahia

“Sad Bahia! Oh how dissimilar
You are and I am from our old state!
Poor I see you, you to me emenhado,
Rich I saw you already, you a abundant mi.”

I turn to the genius Gregório de Matos.

The PT governs Bahia de Todos os Santos – and all of us – since the year of grace 2007, uninterruptedly.

Any of us would imagine that this succession of progressive administrations would have operated some transformation in public security policy, putting some kind of brake on the murderous police. Or at least disputed racist common sense.

In 2015, the current Minister of the Civil House, Rui Costa, at the time the PT governor of Bahia, said about the slaughter of twelve people in the Salvador neighborhood of Kabul the following “disgrace”:

“It's like a scorer in front of the goal who tries to decide, in a few seconds, how he's going to put the ball inside the goal, to score the goal”, he compared. “After the play ends, if it was a great goal, all the fans in the stands will clap and the scene will be repeated several times on television. If the goal is missed, the scorer will be condemned, because if he had kicked that way or played that way, the ball would have gone in ”.

Avant-garde our Rui! He anticipated the Bolsonarist governor of Rio, that Wilson Witzel, who only three years later came to proclaim “the police will aim at the little head and… fire”.

Damn, I apologize (Moro, Sérgio). But I'm old school. Left is not to change something in the world? Aren't PT governments a step towards more equality, more wages? And less state violence against the poor, blacks, young people, women? Did I miss a chapter in the booklet?

Shall we move forward? Discuss and seriously face the agenda of drugs, pulices, from jails full of blacks?

* Julian Rodrigues, journalist and teacher, is a PT militant and an activist in the LGBTI and Human Rights movement.

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