Gathering allows Portugal to teach the world
She brought the house down when she stated, simply: “People do notlose their human rights because they use drugs.” Whether or not Portugal continues to advance rapidly, it remains an outlier in world terms. “There are still lots of places where users are living the same war that they were living in the ‘80s and the ‘90s,” said Coimbra.
Working with open minds and widely consulting the public, they proved that it “is possible to have public policy conceived, based on knowledge and evidence coming from different domains.” They rented large cinemas to hold public consultations about the new approach. They were so packed out that people were sitting on the floors. “People would come up to us at the end of the meeting, in tears, thanking us … It was very touching, it was very motivating.” The government accepted the commission’s strategy without changing “a single comma,” publishing it on April 22, 1999—[over 20 years ago]. [The program now comes under next generation leadership], “I couldn’t be happier to endorse the efforts pushing for harm reduction, decriminalization and a people-centered approach that has saved lives in our country,” he said.