Breaking the Taboo


“If you can’t control drugs in a maximum security prison, then how can you control drugs in a free society”? Those are my words that close Breaking the Taboo, a poignant new film about the global drug war.

On May 31st I was invited to attend its world premier in Sao Paulo, by its filmmaker Fernando Grostein Andrade. I met Fernando when he was in New York City filming and he asked if he could interview me about my experience serving a 15-to-life sentence for a non-violent drug crime. I agreed and was thrilled to take part in it.

Breaking the Taboo is a stark and honest portrayal of the global war on drugs and its failure to resolve the many issues that derive from prohibition. The main character of the film is the former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Other former world leaders and dignitaries appear beside him, like Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

A few days after my return from Brazil I attended the Global Commission on Drug Policy’s press conference in NYC, where the film was shown as former world leaders declared that the global war on drugs has failed. The commission released a report that called for frank dialogue that encouraged governments to experiment with the regulation of drugs, especially marijuana.

The 19-member global commission includes former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Schultz, who held cabinet posts under U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon. Others include former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, the former presidents of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Switzerland, writers Carlos Fuentes and Mario Vargas Llosa, U.K. business mogul Richard Branson, and the current prime minister of Greece.

Fernando Andrade told me that the main purpose of Breaking the Taboo is to encourage a deep and well-informed debate on the complex drug issue in Brazil and abroad. The film intends to bring youth, families, teachers, physicians and society as a whole together for a long and honest conversation to reduce prejudice, help prevent drug use and spread scientific information on the issue.

The documentary was filmed in eight countries, in fifty-eight days of shooting (thirty-one in Brazil and twenty-seven abroad), totaling 400 hours of footage, and 176 people interviewed: Brazil, United States, Portugal, Holland, Colombia, Switzerland, France and Argentina; and in cities such as Geneva, Amsterdam, Washington, Los Angeles, S?o Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Bogot?, among others.

One of the main points in the film is that forty years ago on June 17, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs, in a crusade for a drug-free world. But this war has been proven to be a dismal failure which has perpetuated the damages caused by drugs to people and to society as a whole. Abuses, inaccurate information, epidemics, violence and the strengthening of crime networks are the results of a war lost on a global scale.

Breaking the Taboo pursues solutions, principles and conclusions among the many voices coming from different realities worldwide, in a mosaic assembled by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Former world leaders and Chiefs of State of countries such as Colombia, Mexico and Switzerland reveal the reasons why they changed their opinions on the issue of the war on drugs must be discussed and clarified. From lessons learned by people whose lives were scarred by the drug war, to the celebrities such as world-renowned writer Paulo Coelho and actor Gael Garcia Bernal, Breaking the Taboo is an invitation for all to debate the drug issue.

See the trailer : “Breaking the Taboo

Events are taking place in the United States to commemorate the failed drug war http://nomoredrugwar.org/take-action#events

Anthony Papa is the author of 15
Years to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom
and Communications
Specialist for Drug Policy
. He can be reached at: anthonypapa123@yahoo.com

Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation
Sheldon Richman
Let the Refugees In
James Anderson
Reframing Black Friday: an Imperative for Déclassé Intellectuals
Simon Bowring
UN Climate Talks 2009: a Merger of Interest and Indifference
Ron Jacobs
Rosa Luxemburg–From Street Organizer to Street Name
Aidan O'Brien
Same-Sex Sellout in Ireland
David Stocker
Report from the Frontline of Resistance in America
Patrick Bond
China Sucked Deeper Into World Financial Vortex and Vice Versa, as BRICS Sink Fast
Majd Isreb
America’s Spirit, Syrian Connection
James A Haught
The Values of Jesus
Binoy Kampmark
British Austerity: Cutting One’s Own Backyard
Ed Rampell
45 Years: A Rumination on Aging
Charles R. Larson
Chronicle of Sex Reassignment Surgery: Juliet Jacques’s “Trans: a Memoir”
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
CounterPunch’s Favorite Films
November 26, 2015
Ashley Nicole McCray – Lawrence Ware
Decolonizing the History of Thanksgiving