In recent years Brazilian cities have seen the rise of so-called cracolândias—homeless encampments where crack and other drugs are openly consumed and sold, often accompanied by high levels of violence. While many cities have responded to this phenomenon with police suppression, arresting and displacing inhabitants (only to see them quickly resettle the streets), São Paulo is trying a different approach: the innovative, controversial De Braços Abertos (Open Arms) program to house, feed, employ, and offer health and mental health services to over 800 active drug users.


  • Taniele Rui, an anthropologist, is the author of the book, Nas Tramas do Crack: Etnografia da Abjeção (In Crack’s Web: An Ethnography of Desolation, 2014).
  • Cleia Noia is the program manager of the Drugs, Security, and Democracy Program at the Social Science Research Council, which supports research in Latin America and the Caribbean to inform drug policy.
  • Sarah Evans is a senior program officer for the Open Society International Harm Reduction Development Program.
  • Catesby Holmes (moderator) is a senior program coordinator for the Open Society Latin America Program.

Food and drink will be served.

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