It started in the jungles of the Amazon and is now infesting the streets of the favelas (ghettos) of Sao Paolo and Rio de Janeiro. Crack addiction is out of control in Brazil. In fact, Brazilians are the biggest consumers of crack and cocaine in the world. Keep in mind that Brazil has over 100 million Black citizens, which makes the nation second only to Nigeria in Black population. That is two and a half times the Black population of the United States. How this has come to be is mysterious, but one thing is for sure – it predominantly affects the Black populace of this nation.
Brazil is a former colony of Portugal. The Portuguese took a ship full of African slaves to the Vatican. They were seeking the Pope’s blessing. He received the slaves and blessed what the Portuguese were about to do. Thus, the greatest holocaust in history - trans-Atlantic African slavery was begun. Portugal claimed Brazil in the year 1500 and the first slaves were delivered in 1525. There are villages in southeastern Brazil where the villagers still speak their native African languages. Unlike the United States which went through a civil war and reconstruction for the immersion of Africans into the general population, Brazil and other South American nations ended slavery during the 1880’s abruptly and had no transition for the newly freed Blacks.
This nation tries to hide its Blackness. They are officially in denial about disparity. Blacks are 52% of the population but, in a nation where voting is mandatory, Blacks have less than 10% of the elected officials. They have no economic base and any Black celebrity such as an athlete, singer or actor is expected to marry someone white. It reminds me of that old rock tune "All They Want to do is Dance". Some day there is going to be a struggle in this predominantly Black nation.
How is cocaine being brought into this large nation? I have read various articles about the situation but no one seems to identify the source. It could be using the model of the United States. The difference is the trafficking started in the rural areas in Brazil with the cities being the final market.
The CIA wanted to fund a revolution in Nicaragua and were denied by Congress. Thus, they came up with a funding scheme. They would introduce crack to Black neighborhoods in the United States and come up with quick cash to buy arms for its rebels. They recruited a bright, entrepreneurial middle class guy living in Los Angeles by the name of Ricky Donnell Ross. Rick Ross put the first crack house in America at 69th and Hoover. That was eleven blocks south of my Aunt Lula’s home. His distribution source would be two fledgling gangs: Crips and Bloods. Los Angeles always had gangs. But they were social units like the Slausons, Business Men and Del Vikings. These new groups are murdering machines and would soon infest the entire nation with the crack plague. In the end, Rick Ross had mastered a 600 million dollar enterprise and only had to do fourteen years in prison. The damage done by this CIA sponsored activity was very serious and it is still having a detrimental affect on our society.
The addiction level in Brazil is raging into a fury. No one seems to know how it is coming into the nation. Ha! Like the United States there is some level of cooperation. The United States would use two major street gangs. The Brazilians have three gangs running their operation. There is a lack of police activity; the only official activity to stop this plague is the social work industry. These people will visit these "crack lands" located near favelas and try to convince addicts to enter rehab. Very rarely will you see police or military trying to suppress the drug activity in these areas.
These gangs operate with impunity within the favelas. They are more like the local government and organized crime can flourish within their territories. Brazil is known for its corruption at all levels and the crack business seems to have found very friendly territory. We, in the Black Diaspora, should not be quiet about this. There are evil people profiting off the misery of Black folk and where is the outrage? The government has announced that it will fund $2.2 billion for further rehab and education efforts but that probably will do nothing to stop the rise in addiction. A very large Black population is at risk and the world seems to ignore it.
Harry C. Alford is the co-founder, President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.