ARGENTINA: 23,000 PEOPLE SUPPORT 'DEPENALIZATION BILL'

ARGENTINA: 23,000 PEOPLE  SUPPORTED THE DEPENALIZATION BILL IN THE BIGEST RELATED PUBLIC ACTS IN THE COUNTRY

Last Saturday approximately 8,000  were involved in the fourth edition of MMM in Rosario city with a great festival with concerts and performance organized by the Argentinean Harm Reduction Association ARDA. The Festival was on the Municipal Open Amphitheatre with the bands Rosario Smowing, Urganos del Sur, Mobil Vision and Manos de Filipi.

On Sunday over 15,000 persons participated on the Buenos Aires edition of MMM with another open-air festival on Palermo area. The concerts involved Intoxicados, Manos de Filipi, Resistencia Suburbana, Orge & Caro and Concha Man.

Main speakers on both festivals were the Executive Secretary of ARDA Gustavo Hurtado, Diputy Eduardo Garcia, author of the bill for depenalization and a representative of the Argentinean Drug User Organization.

The famous musician Andres Calamaro sent greetings in a very sensitive letter asking for “freedom, freedom and freedom” , as it is written in the national hymn and reminding that “from the skin to inside I am the owner of my body”.

Drug Users in Euro Parliament

On 21 April 2005, ‘addicts,’ people living with AIDS, other drug users, MEPs and other European Authority diplomats met in the European Parliament to discuss the inclusion of civil society in drug policy debate and drug policy generally. Here is a short report :

It was an interesting and extraordinary scene to have the dreadlocked guys around the suits in an otherwise ‘diplomatic session.’ NGO delegates, mostly organisational or individual members of ENCOD came to take part in a drug policy hearing initiated by ENCOD, a major part of whose remit was to remind the EU, as a democratic institution, that it has a responsibility to consult with Civil Society when designing drug policy. It was even more heartening to hear Olivier Hartman of an Illicit drug user union in Belgium acknowledge, along with the panelists, that we do indeed have to help kids not get in a mess with drugs for as citizens, we have both collective as well as individual responsibilities.

We had our man behind the camera, Thorri Johanssen and then there were NGO delegates and ENCOD members from Italy, France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Italy, Poland, Switzerland and the U.K. Other NGO delegates included Pien Metal of the Transnational Institute (TNI) and Marco Perduca of the International Prohibitionist League(IAL), both of whom were speakers along with ENCODs coordinator, Joep Oomen. Mr Barra of the International Redcross Federation, who is an ally of harm reduction, also spoke passionately about stigma kills more people than the drugs themselves; he also addressed the AIDS plenary in Vienna at the annual Commission on Narcotic Drugs last month advocating strongly for NEPs as well as maintenance substitution therapies. I liked him..it transpired that he had worked with drug users for 3O yrs.

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