Gilberto Gil is Still Making Beautiful Music -- This Time About Drug Legalization

Music lovers have long appreciated Brazilian composer and musician Gilberto Gil's enormous talent and his contributions to bossa nova, tropicalismo, and other uniquely Brazilian music forms. Of course, Gil was never just a musician; he and Caetano Veloso, another giant of Brazilian music, were imprisoned by the military dictatorship in 1969 for "anti-government activities," and the pair went to exile in London and the US after they were released. Gil continued both his musical and political careers in the intervening decades, winning elective office in his home town of Salvador in 1990. When Lula Da Silva and the Workers' Party won power in 2003, Da Silva appointed Gil minister of culture. Now, Gil is speaking out on drug policy, and not for the first time. Last year, he told the newspaper Folha do Sao Paulo that he had been smoking pot for the last 50 years. But in an interview on Sunday with the newspaper O Globo, Gil went further, calling for the legalization of drugs. According to O Globo, Gil wants drug use and the drug trade treated as a public health matter, not a criminal one. "We have to treat cocaine addicts like we treat alcoholics," he said. While he seeks to reduce drug consumption, Gil said there are better ways than prohibition. "The cigarette smoking habit en Brazil is systematically falling not because it has been prohibited, but because it is discouraged, associating the smoking habit with bad health," he said. Gil's remarks came just days after President da Silva signed a new Brazilian drug law that will reduce penalties for consumers, but stiffen them for drug sellers and traffickers. Look for a feature article on the new law on Friday. In the meantime, we can all enjoy Gilberto Gil's beautiful music.
Location: 
Brazil
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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