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‘Cracolandia,’ the drug epidemic in Brazil

RIO DE JANEIRO (BDCi) – The U.S. has officially been surpassed by Brazil as the world’s leading consumer of crack cocaine, as per the Federal University of São Paulo.

A recent strong economic growth, which led to more disposable income for all goods, including drugs, is partly to blame for crack’s popularity, as is the fact that Brazil borders Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, the biggest cocaine-producing countries in the world.

In Rio de Janeiro, just north of the famous Maracanã stadium, lies “Cracolândia,” where between 300 and 400 people camp out nightly under tarps, smoking single-hit balls of crack out in the open.

Another “cracolândia” already exists in central São Paulo.

As the World Cup approaches, officials have launched several initiatives addressing the addiction problem, with mixed results. Critics believe recent efforts have only targeted cleaning up the streets and have not faced the drug issue head-on.

Nongovernmental entities like churches volunteer their time and resources to try and make a difference in the epidemic, providing weekly soup kitchens and helping at-risk youth.

The cost of a small single-hit of crack is 5 reáis, or roughly $2.20.

  By: Diego Díaz Source: CNN Photo: Reuters 13 May 2014

9:30 a.m. P.D.T.

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