My new short film featuring voices from the illicit drugs trade in Brazil urges the development sector to address drug policy reform in order to protect marginalised communities that are being criminalised under punitive drug policies that create cycles of violence and oppression.
The film created co-produced with Health Poverty Action states that governments need to legalise and regulate drugs to mitigate the brutal harm the so called ‘war on drugs’ causes people around the world.
The film, shot in São Paulo’s favela, echoes the findings of Health Poverty Action recent report ‘Punishing Poverty’ and the progress made at The UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs, endorsing a strategic move away from prohibition that repeatedly targets and harms the most marginalised communities, encouraging corruption at all levels of society and criminalises generations of people.
It’s the story of a favela community leader, Marcio, who has witnessed first hand the discrimination and brutality generated by drug policy enforced by a corrupt law enforcement regime. Marcio states ‘the privileged and the disadvantaged have a different experience of the police forces’ highlighting the social divide that drug policy upholds, claiming that ‘drug policy is racist’ and ‘creates violence’.
© Andrew Davies — Campaign Film LTD ‘Parasopolis Sao Paulo, the favela next to towering apartments replete with privtate swimming pools’
I’ve tried to visualise the economic pressures that drives individuals to work in the lowest levels of the drugs trade, and the deadly consequences that follow as marginalised communities clash with law enforcement officials — with current drug policy being the ‘excuse for many arrests and killings’ according to Marcio.
Shot in the first person with exclusive access into the favela, the testimony lays bare the harms of drug policy and that the so called ‘War on Drugs’ is undeniably a war on people.
A lack of public services, state support and economic opportunities is an obvious entry point into the drugs trade for a short term viable livelihood for many who have next to no work opportunities.
If you want to know more of the reformative work on drug policy then head over to https://www.healthpovertyaction.org/