Disarmament caravan arrives in the Northeast region

24/10/2004 - 16h09

Brasília - Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, has begun the week at the head of the Disarmament Caravan (Caravana do Desarmamento), which is now moving across the Northeast region. Today it will be São Luís (MA), and tomorrow in Recife (PE). The caravan enlists governors in the campaign to eliminate weapons in Brazil, and then signs contracts with them releasing monies from the Public Security Fund (Fundo Nacional de Segurança Pública). There will be US$1.2 million (R$3.5 million) for Maranhão and US$2.4 million (R$6.9 million) for Pernambuco.

Since October 7, the caravan has gone through the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paraná, Rio Grande do Norte, Ceará, Piauí, Distrito Federal, Tocantins, Goiás, Mato Grosso and Rondônia.

So far the campaign has collected 135,914 weapons around the country. The government pays for the weapons, and thus far has handed out US$3.1 million (R$9 million). The government's budget has earmarked US$10.4 million (R$30 million) to pay for weapons that are turned in this year. Minister Bastos says that by the end of the year the campaign's budget will be depleted.

The original target for the campaign was to collect 80,000 weapons by the end of the year - a goal that was reached in September following a surprising surge of nationwide participation. "The caravan is something that just means participation will be even greater," says Bastos.

The Brazilian Disarmament Campaign received a Unesco prize in the Human Rights and Peace Culture category. In awarding the prize, Unesco described it as one of the best strategies to promote peace in Brazilian history.

For more information on the Disarmament Campaign, the following toll-free number, in Brazil, can be called: 0800-729-0038.

Agencia Brasil
Translator: Allen Bennett