Human waste

Image: Basil MK


The criminalization of drugs, through lucrative clandestine sales, only favors organized crime. The release of drugs does not recruit new followers, it even reduces the prevalence of drug use

On Mondays, I usually take the little waste I accumulate during the week to the trash room in my building, properly packaged, because recyclable trash is usually collected on Tuesday mornings. This Monday I went to the room earlier than usual and was shocked by the dirt, banana peels scattered on the floor, papers, containers, etc.

I went to the doorman to vent my discomfort and he apologized because he hadn't yet had time to clean the little room of rubbish. But I said I wasn't complaining about him, but rather perplexed by the behavior of my upper-middle-class neighbors. The doorman said that he was used to the way rich people treat their employees and also referred to the trash on the street, in the strict sense and in the broad sense, that he would soon clean up all that dirt.

I understood that the residents of the luxury building thought that, as they paid, the employee should collect their waste and that he submitted to this without resentment, due to lack of choice; I also understood that any attempt to “educate” my neighbors would end up harming the doorman, who is a saint.

So I decided to vent my discomfort with the city's trash in the broadest sense here in this space. When people ask me what I work with, sometimes I can't resist the joke and say that I work with drugs. When we were involved with research Fatal victims of violence and the drug market in the Metropolitan Region of São Paulo, published in the Brazilian Journal of Population Studies, we closely followed, by chance, the murder of a noia, who defaulted on 70 reais and was sworn to death.

His mother took the money, which was cordially dismissed by the traffickers, they didn't want her money, they just wanted to maintain order in the area. The mother sent her son on vacation to her relatives' house in Minas Gerais. Six months later, the noia returned. She was playing with the children on a Sunday in front of her parents' house when was shot by two boys known to the family. In the homicide report, drawn up in the metropolitan region of São Paulo, the author and motive behind the crime are unknown.

Homicides mainly affect young, poor and disposable small retail dealers, who live on the fringes of organized crime. The “law of silence” and a caustic criminal code protect, from the ground up, the top hierarchy of drug trafficking; 95% of police reports involving homicides are filled out with unknown authorship and motive behind the crime. And, to say that they do something, how can they not? the hypocritical elites who make a living from illicit trade persecute the noias who are products and victims of drug trafficking.

Applauded by the orderly citizens, the police invaded Cracolândia and dispersed the noias without worrying about their fate. The assault and human exodus were followed by reporters co-opted by the heroic police to certify the state of these people's community facilities. Bands of noias now roam nomadically, occupying and alternating the streets of Campos Elíseos, from where they are continually displaced like human waste. One can wait in vain for their death, because although they die, the current noias are promptly replaced by new waves produced by trafficking.

Despite the stereotype about drug use among marginalized people, all research indicates that drug use is strongly associated with people with a high level of income. But, although the prevalence of drug use is higher in wealthy social classes, retail trafficking preferentially involves the poor segments of the population. For those who see no prospect of getting out of poverty, the glitter of dust, the lucrative illegal sale of narcotics, appears as a way of easy and quick enrichment, access to the pleasures of the rich life, designer clothes, cars, women, whiskey and cocaine, something for nice people.

While they easily gain and lose money, prison, lawsuits and, ultimately, their lives, these young, poor and small-time traffickers are enriching an entire organization that remains unpunished and is not the subject of investigation. The drug industry, to manage drug trafficking, creates its own code, military rules of loyalty and submission, and widely distributes very modern firearms. The population's absolute lack of choice between the absent State and the drug trade that dominates the space is often mistaken as community support for drug trafficking.

The fatal victims of violence are not people who are strangers to crime, but young people enticed by drugs who exterminate each other in the logic of trafficking, helped by corrupt police officers who demand their share of the profits. And to show efficiency, police officers usually arrest small crack sellers and micro-traffickers, who operate mainly in the central region of the city of São Paulo.

There is something rotten in this immoral conduct in which the dehumanized rabble is treated like garbage and is sacrificed in a heap, in which the common people have no right to identity, they succumb in a mass grave without individualized space in the media, which lasts for days when violence affects a member of the elite who does not correspond to the profile of the fatal victims of violence. And, for the procession of the victim who has a name and pedigree, ironically, without any shame, the media remembers to use the impersonal homicide statistics maintained essentially by the noias.

The repressive policy has not produced the “expected effects” of stopping the use of drugs that are currently illegal in Brazil and the crimes associated with trafficking. Violent is not the drug itself, violent is the illegal trade that feeds members of the country's police, economic, political and legal elite involved in trafficking, who, cynically, never tire of fattening their bank accounts.

The criminalization of drugs, through lucrative clandestine sales, only favors organized crime. The release of drugs does not recruit new followers, it even reduces the prevalence of drug use. Historically, the consumption of alcohol, tobacco, coffee, mate, mandrake and even belladonna was considered illegal, which led wizards and witches to the stake in the Middle Ages and today can be found stacked on the shelves of good pharmacies. Prohibition in the United States affected moderate drinkers (the mass of obedient people), but did not reduce the consumption of alcoholics. The self-control system is established as soon as official control ceases. Prohibitions, on the contrary, generally cause an increase in drug use (irrationally) and drug trafficking violence.

*Samuel Kilsztajn is a full professor of political economy at PUC-SP. Author, among other books, of From Scientific Socialism to Utopian Socialism.

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