Argentina: Age of first drug use now 8 years

Catholic Bishop of Neuquén Virginio Domingo Bressanelli of Neuquén, a province in southern Argentina, expressed concern about the economic situation, social inequality in the country and his diocese, but also about the spread of illegal narcotics.

In an interview with the local press, Bishop Bressanelli said, "The year 2012 was not one of the best years from the economic point of view. It is said that in 2013 and 2014, the situation can improve ... It is well known that when there are difficult situations, those who suffer the most are the vulnerable, the poorest, those with lower incomes or those without work." Bishop of Neuquén since 2011, Bressanelli pointed out that "the number of people who are in a vulnerable situation, who I met on the street and asked for help has increased."

The causes, said Bishop Bressanelli are "the international crisis, especially in the West, and the very few foreign investment in Argentina that have limited sources of employment." Therefore, "We (bishops) are neither the opposition nor the government, we are pastors." This is why a recent document published by the Argentinean bishops about the economy and poverty touched "two important issues, such as family and social life."

Bishop Bressanelli demanded decisive intervention by the government to counter drug consumption and addiction. "In Neuquén, alcohol, gambling and drugs addicts are a serious problem" claimed Bishop Bressanelli. According to media reports, the average age when drug use begins has dropped from 14 to 8 years. "The drug problem is now also present in primary schools," he said, saying he is in favor of increasing the number of social workers addressing the problem. "The question of dependence must be attacked from all sides," concluded Bishop Bressanelli.

Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.


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