Dear friends: I’m forwarding to you, below, a message from Claude Bauchet, leader of the Santo Daime in France, written June 2nd, 2005.

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Dear friends,

Brief review of events:
After a lengthy juridical-political-pharmacological soap-opera that took more than five years (begun on November 18, 1999 and ended January 15, 2005), we, the French and Brazilian daimistas, were finally acquitted of the accusation of drug trafficking and use, and earned our legitimate right to the free practice of our religion. However, on May 3rd, 2005, a commission of the “French Agency for the Safety of Health Products” (under the jurisdiction of the Health Ministry) published in the official journal a decision signed by the General Director of Health, Mr. D. Houssin, on behalf of the minister, that included the main ingredients of Ayahuasca (Banisteriopsis caapi and Psychotria viridis) in the list of narcotics (see: http://alto-das-estrelas.blogspot.com/2005/05/sad-news-ayahuasca-forbidden-in-france.html – in English; http://alto-das-estrelas.blogspot.com/2005/05/notcia-triste-lei-proibe-o-uso-da.html – in Portuguese). This measure hinders us from the free practice of our religion, since without our sacrament our religion is denaturalized. Our practices are now illegal!

No researcher that is abundantly informed of the scientific literature on Ayahuasca and its ingredients, and that has empirical experience, can conclude that the prohibition may be justified by any criterion of scientific objectivity. For what obscure reasons has a product that is innocuous to public health been forbidden? After centuries of ayahuasca use, there is no record –whether scientific or anecdotal- of a single case of death, while on the other hand there occur 450 000 deaths per year in France due to alcohol, to cite just one example of this incongruence.

Urgent measures:
In the face of this grave situation and the international prohibitionist movement against our holy beverage that is occurring not only in France, but also in Italy, the United States and Germany, it is necessary for us to reflect on ways of taking combined action among the fellowship of the Santo Daime and other sympathizers and users of ayahuasca in its several traditions.

We believe in the spirit of dialogue with authorities and the possibility of generating constructive proposals to exit this impasse. Yet we are determined to see our actions to their end and this will develop in different directions and forms:
1) We will appeal to the Council of the State, which is one of the two supreme courts of the French state (the other is the Court of Cassation) and, in the case of a defeat in the Council of the State, we will appeal to the European Court of Rights;
2) We will create an association, the Association pour l’usage et la tradition de l’Ayahuasca [Association for the use and tradition of Ayahuasca], a partnership between the French brotherhood of the Santo Daime (http://www.santodaime.org/) and the French representatives of Takiwasi (http://www.takiwasi.com/), the medical center led by the French doctor (naturalized Peruvian) Dr. Jacques Mabit, located in Tarapoto in Peru. Takiwasi combines traditional Amazonian medicine (including ayahuasca) and Western medicine for the cure of chemical dependencies. In France, the center is represented by La Maison qui Chante [The House that Sings], led by Ghislaine Bourgogne (ghislaine.bourgogne@wanadoo.fr and coucous@aol.com ) in the city of Lyon.
3) During the meeting of the European Churches of Santo Daime that was held in Madrid in 2004, delegates were designated to form a committee to work on the issue of the legalization of our sacrament. We are defining a well thought-out shared strategy so that our brethren can confront the unjust attacks that we are suffering and intend to hold another meeting, probably in Brussels on August 26, 2005 (to be confirmed).

We welcome all support and suggestions that may come from researchers, politicians, users and sympathizers of ayahuasca, including other partnerships than those mentioned above.

Viva our Unity!

Viva the freedom of Santo Daime!

Viva all ayahuasca traditions!

Harmony, Love, Truth and Justice!

Claude Bauchet
http://fr.f265.mail.yahoo.com/ym/Compose?To=claudebauchet@yahoo.fr
http://www.libertedusantodaime.fr.st/

(Translated from the French to Portuguese by Timberê Villas Boas and revised and edited by the anthropologist Bia Labate – http://alto-das-estrelas.blogspot.com/, translated to English by Christian Frenopoulo)

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