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Geopolitics

Why Brazil Is Not Cool With Uruguay's Legalization Of Marijuana

Dude! Smoking marijuana in front of Parliament in Montevideo
Dude! Smoking marijuana in front of Parliament in Montevideo
Natuza Nery, Fernanda Odilla, Matheus Leitão and Johanna Nublat

BRASILIA — The Brazilian government doesn't like to talk about it publicly, but top officials are worried about the impact that Uruguay's decision to legalize the production and sale of marijuana — the first nation to do so — will have on its larger neighbor to the north.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff talked about it privately with her Uruguayan counterpart José Mujica on his visit last month to Brasília. Specifically, she told him that while she understood and respected the domestic debate, she also expressed her fear that the effects could drift over the border into Brazil.

Mujica explained that Uruguay wouldn't become a new Amsterdam, the world's best-known destination for so-called "drug tourism," and assured her that all necessary controls would be set up to prevent the law — which bans non-residents from buying cannabis — from being abused.

Still, despite Mujica's promises, Brazil is preparing to step up its controls of people and luggage, should the predictions come true of a rising numbers of passengers travelling to and from Uruguay.

Tougher sentencing

Brazil's federal police will file charges of international drug trafficking against anybody who tries to enter the country with any quantity of marijuana. The usual sentence for narcotics traffic — between three and 10 years in jail — will be boosted by a maximum of six years in any case where the "transnationality of the crime" is proven.

In the meantime, nobody foresees exactly how the new law in Uruguay will change how the trafficking flows. Paraguay is expected to remain the main producer of marijuana in Latin America, with federal police estimates citing as much as 95% of the cannabis that enters Brazil coming from its western neighbor.

When asked whether "the trend would spread" of legalization, Brazilian Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo said that "each country must follow the path that it believes is fair, according to its own reality."

Meanwhile Health Minister Alexandre Padilha insisted that the Uruguayan decision shouldn't have any impact on Brazil public health. "Brazilian law doesn't criminalize users anymore. The challenge we're facing now is to establish a safety net for people who are victims of drug abuse, especially crack," he explained.

Experts note that Uruguay's marijuana decision is only one of many measures taken in an attempt to fight against rising violence in the country. "Instead of replying with armored vehicles, riot police and robocops, they chose to focus on prevention and to take a progressive approach to tackle the issue," sociologist Cláudio Beato said. "The legalization of the production and sale of marijuana is merely one part of this strategy."

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Geopolitics

Utter Pessimism, What Israelis And Palestinians Share In Common

Right now, according to a joint survey of Israelis and Palestinians, hopes for a peaceful solution of coexistence simply don't exist. The recent spate of violence is confirmation of the deepest kind of pessimism on both sides for any solution other than domination of the other.

An old Palestinian protester waves Palestinian flag while he confronts the Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the village of Beit Dajan near the West Bank city of Nablus.

A Palestinian protester confronts Israeli soldiers during the demonstration against Israeli settlements in the West Bank village of Beit Dajan on Jan. 6.

Pierre Haski

-Analysis-

PARIS — Just before the latest outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians, a survey of public opinion among the two peoples provided a key to understanding the current situation unfolding before our eyes.

It was a joint study, entitled "Palestinian-Israeli Pulse", carried out by two research centers, one Israeli, the other Palestinian, which for years have been regularly asking the same questions to both sides.

The result is disastrous: not only is the support for the two-state solution — Israel and Palestine side by side — at its lowest point in two decades, but there is now a significant share of opinion on both sides that favors a "non-democratic" solution, i.e., a single state controlled by either the Israelis or Palestinians.

This captures the absolute sense of pessimism commonly felt regarding the chances of the two-state option ever being realized, which currently appears to be our grim reality today. But the results are also an expression of the growing acceptance on both sides that it is inconceivable for either state to live without dominating the other — and therefore impossible to live in peace.

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